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26th Marine Expeditionary Unit spouses learn how to give their newborns a massage during a class April 19, 2010. The 26th MEU Family Readiness Program aims to enable every Marine and sailor to complete every assigned mission without the stress of being unsure about the well-being of loved ones on the home front. The infant massage instruction and other family wellness courses are just some of the ways 26th MEU encourages family readiness.

Photo by Capt. Richard Ulsh

26th MEU families pamper newest members

22 Apr 2010 | Capt. Richard K. Ulsh

When one reflects upon life as an adult it can be easy to envy the lives of infants, whose responsibilities in life only include eating, sleeping, and getting massages. At least, that seems to sum up the lives of infants belonging to the Marines and sailors of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit after the training received at the New Parent Program Center at Camp Lejeune, April 19.

Family members from across 26th MEU gathered that afternoon to learn infant massage techniques. The class provided both a bonding experience for parent and child, and tranquil relaxation for the babies.

“It’s always good to have something up my sleeve to calm him down,” said Megan Williams, a 26th MEU spouse. She said she enjoyed applying the new techniques during one-on-one time in the class.

For one family member, the training was also about something more.

“I hope this class also develops bonds between the spouses,” said Linda Desens, wife of the MEU commander and who helped organize the class. “These bonds may provide support during deployment and other rough times that military families experience.”

Coping with tough times addresses a greater issue within 26th MEU – family readiness. The 26th MEU Family Readiness Program aims to enable every Marine and sailor to complete every assigned mission without the stress of being unsure about the well-being of loved ones on the home front. The infant massage instruction and other family wellness courses are just some of the ways 26th MEU encourages family readiness.

“If families are taken care of, then our Marines and sailors can focus on the mission,” remarked Desens. “We want them to be successful and so we try to relieve them of any burdens.”

According to Beverly Oxley, a MEU spouse who also took the class, the efforts spent to prepare families for deployment have comforted her during the initial phase of the pre-deployment training cycle.

“So far the contact has been spot on and consistent, and I feel as though I have a real resource and support.”