United Through Reading Connects Troops, Families…and Staff, too!

Sophia Konopa and Isabella Segovia Reading Their USO Books

Deploying during the holidays is never easy, but one program eases the strain of separation through books.  United Through Reading lets Troops record of DVD of them reading a story to their children, then a copy of the book and DVD are sent directly to the kids.

As Washington Post staff writer Hamil R. Harris reported, those who work on the front end of the program – like Jim Kinnear at BWI Airport – instantly see the positive effect it has on Troops: “‘They love sending a video of them back to their children,’ he said of the military men and women. ‘The children can watch it whenever they want.’”  You can read the full article and see an interview with Jim Kinnear in Washington Post online.

On the receiving end of all those stories are the families.  Major Matthew D. Konopa recently sent an email to the USO detailing his own family’s experience with United Through Reading:

“Attached is the photo of my youngest daughter, Sophia Konopa (6) and Granddaughter, Isabella Segovia (1) back in Wade, North Carolina (near Fort Bragg) reading their USO Books recorded and mailed from Sather Air Base, Baghdad, Iraq.  The Service member of course is me, Major Matthew D. Konopa, Chief of Human Resources (S-1) of Task Force 28 and the Hospital here on Sather.  This is a wonderful program that is truly appreciated.  Thanks and have a great day.  -MAJ Konopa”

We will have a great day, knowing that another family has remained connected through this wonderful program!

Operation Proper Exit III – A Photo Essay

Five US military Wounded Warriors prepare to re-deploy to Iraq prior to boarding a US Air Force C-130 on the third “Operation Proper Exit” tour, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, December 28, 2009. Co-sponsored by the USO and the Troops First Foundation, the program is designed to help bring closure to wounded service members who have been injured in combat. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Captain Sam Brown of San Antonio, Texas (right) hugs his wife, Captain Amy Brown, who surprised him by unexpectedly showing up at an event to honor US military Wounded Warriors, at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq, December 28, 2009. Attending are (left to right): Sergeant First Class Mike Schlitz, Sergeant Bill Congleton (Retired), and First Lieutenant Jim Kirchner (Retired). (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Five US military Wounded Warriors prepare to re-deploy to Iraq prior to boarding a US Air Force C-130 on the third “Operation Proper Exit” tour, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, December 28, 2009. Co-sponsored by the USO and the Troops First Foundation, the program is designed to help bring closure to wounded service members who have been injured in combat. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Five US military Wounded Warriors prepare to re-deploy to Iraq prior to boarding a US Air Force C-130 on the third “Operation Proper Exit” tour, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, December 28, 2009. Co-sponsored by the USO and the Troops First Foundation, the program is designed to help bring closure to wounded service members who have been injured in combat. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Five US military Wounded Warriors prepare to re-deploy to Iraq prior to boarding a US Air Force C-130 on the third “Operation Proper Exit” tour, from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, December 28, 2009. Co-sponsored by the USO and the Troops First Foundation, the program is designed to help bring closure to wounded service members who have been injured in combat. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Sergeant First Class Josh Olson (right), who lost a leg in a 2003 RPG attack in Tal Afar, chats with military personnel who welcomed returning wounded warriors at an event at the Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq, December 28, 2009. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

US Army Chief of Staff Major General Joseph Anderson (second from right) holds a discussion with a group of Wounded Warriors (clockwise from left): Sergeant Bill Congleton (Retired) of Sutherlin, Oregon, Sergeant First Class Mike Schlitz of Moline, Illinois and Captain Sam Brown of San Antonio, Texas, at the Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq, December 28, 2009. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Captain Rob Brown, of San Antonio, Texas, assists Sergeant First Class Josh Olson, of Spokane, Washington, with his crutches as they exit a C-130 and are received by a US Air Force Honor Guard, on arrival at Sather Air Base, Baghdad, Iraq, December 28, 2009. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)