AL QA'IM, Iraq --
Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Regimental Combat Team 5 recently introduced a new way for Marines’ parents to learn about what’s happening with their sons during the latter’s deployment to western Al Anbar province, Iraq. The Parent Network started shortly before the battalion, nicknamed “Warlord,” left for Iraq and continues to grow.
“We have around 1,000 parents involved in this program, and it’s still growing,” said Sgt. Maj. Howard K. Long, 43, the battalion sergeant major, who presented the idea of establishing the Parent Network. “The Marines can elect up to five people who can receive information from us.”
Mrs. Diane Hanley, the mother of Pfc. Shane Hanley, a rifleman with Company E, is the Parent Network coordinator. She corresponds with the Family Readiness Team of the battalion to address any parental concerns and answer questions to the best of her abilities.
“The network is a way to inform and educate parents of the Warlord’s service in Iraq, so they can better support their sons through an understanding of the military,” said Navy Lt. Joel Degraeve, 40, the battalion chaplain. “If Mrs. Hanley receives a question, she forwards it to us. Some have been concerns, but parents mostly want to know how they can support us.”
As the Parent Network grows, so do the number of inquiries about the battalion. Hanley eventually receives most questions from parents, but the network has grown so large that six individuals across the nation have taken intermediary roles between Hanley and the parents.
“We have parents all across the United States divided into six regions,” said Long, who is from Asheville, N.C. “Each region has its own regional coordinator they can contact for help.”
On their own accord, the parents began coordinating with one another to send battalion-care packages. They have sent boxes upon boxes of useful items to distribute to all of the Marines with the battalion. The chaplain, while visiting Marines for religious services, plans to pass out boxes at every stop.
“Sending battalion-care packages is not something they originally planned to do,” said Degraeve, who is from Chicago. “Every Marine in the battalion will be taken care of in a way because of them. In the short time they have been together, they have shown their commitment to the Warlords.”
Information on becoming a member of the Parent Network and supporting the Marines during their deployment is available on the battalion’s Web site, www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/public/iimefpublic.nsf/unitsites/2bn2mar/.
As the group continues to grow, more and more parents all over the United States are learning about their son’s deployment and banding together to take care of the Warlords any way they can.