Reading Program Connects Deployed Soldiers With Their Children
By Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Jan. 29, 2009 – A program in Iraq is helping
deployed soldiers bond with their children back home through books. |
United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization, gives deployed
soldiers an opportunity to record themselves reading stories on a DVD
that is shipped home for their children to watch.
Sgt. 1st Class James Morton records himself reading a book to his
daughter, Emily, at Camp Victory, Iraq, Jan. 27, 2009. U.S. Army photo
by Sgt. Frank Vaughn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
program, available worldwide for deployed units, is coordinated here by
Army Capt. (Chaplain) Mike Jones, chaplain for the 10th Mountain
Division Special Troop Battalion, and his assistant, Army Spc.
To participate, soldiers first choose a
book from the collection, along with a miniature stuffed animal to help
them tell their story. Soldiers may send the book and the furry friend
home with the DVD as a keepsake.
“That’s one of the neat
things about this program,” Greenfield said. “The book and the animal
make a good heirloom for kids, grandkids and so on.”
More than 80 soldiers have participated in the program since its inception here in June.
“We have handed out around 140 DVDs so far,” Greenfield said. “Some soldiers come back to do it again and again.”
Sgt. 1st Class James Morton, noncommissioned officer in charge of the
battalion’s security section, is one of the program’s repeat customers.
He said he enjoys reading books via DVD to his 4-year-old daughter,
“I first discovered this program when I was deployed to
Qatar in 2005,” Morton said. “Since coming to Camp Victory, I’ve done
it at least seven or eight times.”
While the United Through
Reading program helps soldiers like Morton stay connected with their
children and loved ones, the benefit to their families is apparent as
“One of the major reasons I do this over and over again
is because of the stress relief it gives my wife,” Morton said. “She
pops in a DVD of me when my little girl is sad.”
Morton said his
daughter is glued to the television when he’s on the screen. “She likes
having daddy around,” he said. “She’s definitely a daddy’s girl.”
While the program benefits deployed soldiers with children, it is not limited to parents.
can read stories to nieces, nephews, cousins or whomever they choose to
do this for,” Greenfield said. “We can even set them up to read to
school children they don’t even know if they so desire.”
(Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn serves in Multinational Division Center.)
|Military Connection's Comments:
Before the Internet, television and even radio families would gather around the fireplace and take turns reading a book aloud. Families stayed close even after children grew up. Today families are split across the United States. Children move away and cousins hardly know each other. Deployed service members are not only separated from their families they are scattered many thousands of miles away. The United Through Reading program provides opportunities for emotional bonding that relieve the stress of separation. The program also instills a love of reading by providing the opportunity for family members to read aloud to children on DVD. One of the most stressful events for children is separation from a parent. The United Through Reading is available to service members around the world. The separation is hard on both the deployed service members and their children. But hearing their parent’s voice and seeing them gives hope and happiness.