Communication keeps spirits up

Photos and story by Spc. Amy L. Barber
256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team public affairs
13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) Public Affairs

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — Soldiers with the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) understand that staying in touch with Family and friends at home is a priority for deployed Soldiers.

One Soldier made that mission his personal responsibility.

“Receiving personal mail is the biggest morale booster for deployed Soldiers,” said Spc. Cory T. Datrice, a mail clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th IBCT and an Opelousas, La., native.

Mail traditionally has not always been so easily obtainable to service members overseas. As a result, receiving mail was an event worthy of excitement, he said.

“It was like children flocking to the ice cream truck. There was so much mail that the driver just started calling out names,” Datrice said.

Because of his previous experience with receiving mail, Datrice decided to become officially trained in handling military mail at the Camp Liberty Joint Military Mail Terminal, he said.

Datrice is now responsible for performing mail duties for the 256th headquarters and four other units.

Each afternoon, he drives 40-minutes to the mail terminal, waits his turn in line, loads the packages and letters, and makes the return trip to hold “mail call” twice a day.

Spc. Corey A. Aguillard, a facilities engineer with HHC., 256th IBCT and a Lake Charles, La., native, said he was exceptionally appreciative for Datrice’s efforts in delivering two large parcels of mail to him.

Mail may be a critical means of communication across the miles, but it is not the principal method of communication from Baghdad to home. Some Soldiers opt for obtaining a cell phone, but most choose to use Internet services from their personal residences.

E-mail, Facebook and Skype are among the most popular conduits of online communication increasing the interaction between Soldiers and loved ones back home.

“I use Skype because when I connect with another person online, I can see video, speak and type with them at the same time,” said Spc. Lester P. Broussard, a logistics specialist with HHC., 256th IBCT and a Lafayette, La., native.

Skype is easy and convenient to use; providing the additional benefit of being able to visually interact with friends and Family, said Spc. Amber M. Short, a human resource specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 256th IBCT and a Lafayette, La., native.

The morale of deployed Soldiers is one of the main concerns for the company, said Capt. Daniel Fritts, commander of HHC., 256th IBCT and a Baton Rouge, La., native.

“Communication back home is extremely important, not just for Soldiers, but also for those friends and Family members in Louisiana,” Fritts said. “It is one of the biggest morale boosters for deployed Soldiers. It helps take the edge off the stresses of deployment and helps the time go by much faster.”

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Spc. Cory T. Datrice, a mail clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) and an Opelousas, La., native, loads a package into his truck April 26 during mail collection from the Joint Military Mail Terminal at Camp Liberty, Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Amy L. Barber)

 

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Spc. Cory T. Datrice, a mail clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) and an Opelousas, La., native, unloads mail April 26 at Camp Liberty, Iraq after collection from the Joint Military Mail Terminal. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Amy L. Barber)

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Spc. Corey A. Aguillard, a facilities engineer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) and a Lake Charles, La., native, accepts two large parcels of mail from April 23 at Camp Liberty, Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Amy L. Barber)

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Spc. Amber M. Short, a human resource specialist with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry Combat Brigade Team, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary) and a Lafayette, La., native, uses Skype April 26 at Camp Liberty, Iraq to speak with her two sons in the United States. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Amy L. Barber)