With Memorial Day memories fresh in my mind, I look ahead and begin preparations for our family’s 4th of July festivities. In addition to cookouts, parades, and sparklers, we will make our annual Independence Day donation to the United Service Organizations (USO). We receive USO mailings on a regular basis, and through one of these packets, I learned about United Through Reading.
United Through Reading (UTR) is “dedicated to uniting U.S. military families who face physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. UTR creates emotional connections between parents and their children, encourages literacy, and makes homecomings easier.”
How does it work? A service member stops by a United Through Reading recording area near his or her duty station. A book is chosen from the UTR library provided, and a video of the service member reading the story is recorded and sent home to the family. The organization’s website details the impact of UTR on the families they serve:
- 81% of participants report a decrease in their children’s anxiety about the deployment
- 88% of participants report an increase in connectedness with deployed service members
- 90% of participants report that participation reduced their own stress during deployment
- 78% of participants report increases in their child’s interest in reading and books
- 83% of UTR recordings are watched nearly every day or more often.
More than 80% of participants report that recordings are enjoyed every day or even several times a day. It’s not unusual for children to watch a recorded story 250 times during a ten-month deployment.
How can you help?
- Donations are accepted online, by phone, or by mail. United Through Reading is made possible by generous sponsors and donors. Your gift matters!
- Volunteer. Become part of the United Through Reading Team: event and communications volunteers are needed.
As we encourage kids to participate in a Summer Reading Program at a local library or bookstore, let’s remember our service members and their families and give them a gift they will treasure.