United Through Reading Keeps This Family Connected

We received this fantastic email from a recipient of United Through Reading’s Military Program.  We hope you enjoy…and be sure to let any military family you know about this wonderful program!

The kids have a great time reading along as Dad reads the same book to them on screen! (Photo courtesy of the Hofman Family)

“Thanks to you, my husband, who is currently stationed in Afghanistan, was able to take care of the kids this afternoon!  He read to them by DVD, thanks to the United Through Reading Program.  My children felt so proud to get something in the mail from him, and they absolutely loved the book selections and being able to see and hear their dad.  My 3 year old son was beaming from ear to ear.  My four year old daughter kept waving at her dad on the TV and blowing him kisses.  I loved the words my husband was also able to share with my oldest son on the DVD.

And we have a 6 week old infant as well, who I put in a baby swing in the same room, enjoying the fact that he can hear his dad’s voice for a good 20 minutes at a time. It is also the most clear recording of my husband’s voice we have, better quality than we hear on the phone, through Skype, or in the voice recordings my children have in stuffed bears from my husband. It is truly my husband’s voice filling our home. Thank you so much for having this program. We really appreciate the way we are able to stay connected with our Soldier.”

It's smiles all around as the kids receive their books from United Through Reading's Military Program, complemented by a DVD of their Dad reading out loud. (Photo courtesy of the Hofman family)

It’s Never Been Easier to Show Your Support

United Through Reading is just one of many programs that are supported by Americans like you!

We know how much it means to show your support for our Troops and their families.  And we’re happy to announce more ways for you to get involved from anywhere!

We invite you to visit USO.org today to leave a message of support for our recovering Wounded Warriors.

We also invite you to visit Serve.gov‘s “Stories of Service” Blog, where you can read about United Through Reading’s Military Program, a perennial favorite that takes place at USO centers worldwide, every day.  It’s just one of many resources available on that website.

Dr. Jill Biden has just released a PSA in support of that initiative and more, and we hope you’ll share that, too.  Your words, donations, and actions mean so much to our brave men and women in uniform, and all we can say is…Thank You!

Tell Us About Your Favorite Program!

Many people know the USO for our celebrity entertainment tours and USO Centers in airports around the world.  But did you know that we have a variety of programs that can be enjoyed by service members far beyond the reaches of a center or tour.

And we continue to grow!  Our newest program – Operation Enduring Care – is a “comprehensive long-term initiative to support America’s Wounded Warriors and their families.”  And many local USO Centers also offer programs and services that are unique to the populations they serve.   Your USO is changing…but the fact that we support our Troops and their families will always remain.

Take our quick poll to let us know which program is your favorite, or which one your family enjoys the most.  We’re always looking for feedback and love to hear your personal stories.  PLUS, two lucky blog comments will be chosen at random to win a special USO Prize Pack!  (Sorry, but USO employees and their families are not eligible)

Vote for your favorite above, add your original idea below, and be sure to check out this short video that shows USO2GO in action!

United Through Reading’s 100,000th Recording Makes It All the Way to Germany!

Sgt. Sosa (c) prepares to read a book to his family back home as CASF USO Manager Rebecca Voelker (r) looks on. (USO Photo by Mrs. Marquita Milligan)

As we were proud to announce earlier this month, United Through Reading’s Military Program and the USO celebrated the 100,000th recording at Virginia Beach’s Patriotic Festival.  Across the Atlantic, USO Centers in Germany also celebrated this milestone

USO Kaiserslautern offers two USO locations for United Through Reading: the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility and the Warrior Center. USO Kaiserslautern is excited to announce two more USO centers that just started offering United Through Reading in June: the Deployment Center on Rhine Ordnance Barracks and the Ramstein Terminal. The USO located at the Ramstein Terminal is an open United Through Reading facility for all military ID cardholders in the KMC.

Sgt. Herriot writes a note back to his family before reading a book as part of the United Through Reading program at CASF USO. (USO Photo by Mrs. Marquita Milligan)

On June 15, 2010 the AFN Kaiserslautern news crew came to the CASF USO to record a story over this great accomplishment and interviewed Sgt. Sosa and Sgt. Herriot, two active duty military fathers who work at the CASF. Sgt. Sosa and Sgt. Herriot discussed their feelings over the program and were recorded reading books to their children.  Rebecca Voelker, CASF USO Manager, was interviewed as well and discussed the importance of the United Through Reading program and the significance of the 100,000th recording.  Watch the video below!

USO Kaiserslautern employee Fawn Bennett said she is excited United Through Reading has reached its 100,000th reading.  “The United Through Reading program is truly an awesome idea. The feedback we have been given by the servicemembers has always been outstanding,” she said. “When the child sees the bright yellow package, they know there is a book and a story waiting for them from a loved one.”

Be sure to “Like” CASF USO Germany and USO Grafenwoehr on Facebook and follow USO Grafenwoehr on Twitter, too!

United Through Reading’s Military Program Celebrates 100,000 Recordings!

USO employees (left to right) Alexandra Volp, Patrice Cameau and Director of USO Fort Eustis Mary Moyer bestow some special gifts upon the Butcher family, which includes mom Kerri, 9-year-old Alexis, and 7-year-old Rodney; Sgt Butcher is currently deployed. (USO photo by Lauren Hebert)

As we told you yesterday, Virginia Beach’s Patriotic Festival was a huge success this year, with Ride 2 Recovery rolling into town on Friday and a celebration of the 100,000th recording for United Through Reading’s Military Program.

To mark this momentous occasion, hundreds of supporters watched as a deployed father read a book on the Jumbotron to his children, who were in the audience with their mom.  He had recorded the reading at Fort Eustis and will not return home for many months.  His family was thrilled, however, to be able to see him onscreen and read along at home any time they want, through the DVD and book provided by the USO and United Through Reading.

Thanks so much to the Butcher family, for allowing us to be a part of this special family moment.  And thanks to everyone who came out to the Patriotic Festival to support the USO and our Troops!  Be sure to watch the video recording below, and let us know about your own United Through Reading experiences…

Patriotic Festival attendees watch as Sgt Butcher reads a book about dinosaurs - and completes the 100,000th United Through Reading's Military Program recording - to his family, who was sitting in the audience. (USO photo by Lauren Hebert)

United Through Reading Tonight on NBC Nightly News

Be sure to watch NBC Nightly News this evening, as United Through Reading’s Military Program will be featured!  Learn more about how this innovative program keeps military families connected through the gift of books and a shared story.  Be sure to check your local listings for times.

Can’t wait until tonight to hear about United Through Reading?  Check out this great story from USO Kuwait…

A USO volunteer colors in the United Through Reading logo on a T-wall right outside the USO center at Camp Ali Al Salem. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

Sailor’s Hobby Gives Back to USO
by Duane DeVorak, Media Director, Camp Ali Al Salem

Deployed service members dedicate hard work to their job and the branch they serve in; however that does not mean they have to sacrifice their other hobbies and passions.  One sailor uses his skills as a cartoonist to beautify the base and build morale.

The USO at Camp Ali Al Salem (AAS) was trying to promote the already successful United Through Reading program and Keon Moore, one of the Duty Managers at AAS realized one way to do this was to paint one of the T-Walls outside of the center.

“While on a deployment service members look for any opportunity to bring themselves closer to their families.  Whether it’s through morale calls or e-mails there is always a way to reach that love one back home, but another way to connect to the little one in your life is the USO’s UTR program,” said Moore.  “That’s why it’s so important to promote this program.”

USO Volunteers and Duty Manager Keon Moore work on the Dr. Seuss UTR wall into the wee hours of the night to get it done. The wall was painted to help promote the already popular USO program. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Kaopuiki had already painted several walls for Navy Customs here at Camp AAS.  It was no surprise when he was asked to paint one for the USO that he agreed to help out in no time

“I did this for the kids basically,” said Kaopuiki.  “By painting this wall I am able to help promote this program and get service members to read to their children.”

Kaopuiki along with three other USO volunteers completed the wall in about seven hours.  The entire wall was done so quickly thanks to his idea of painting with spray paint.

The theme selected was Dr. Seuss, since the popular character is so well known and people will automatically look to see what the wall is all about.

Since 2006, United Through Reading recordings made by troops at USO centers has steadily increased. In the first year, a little more than 4,200 recordings took place at USO locations. The total number grew to more than 20,000 in 2008 and reached 57,000 in 2009.