As any Navy spouse knows, parenting during a deployment can at times be challenging without the in-person support of your spouse, especially during those after-dinner hours before bedtime. As the one parent on duty, life quickly gets hectic and sometimes all you need is someone to read to the kids while you help the others with bath time, brushing their teeth, and changing into pajamas.
Who better to help than the parent who’s currently deployed or on active-duty assignment?
United Through Reading (UTR) makes this possible. A non-profit organization, UTR records deployed service members reading stories to their children at home. The books and recorded stories are then sent home to eager children and spouses. Families can then complete the circle and build on the connection by sending a photo or video of the child watching the deployed mom or dad reading back to the service member to boost their morale.
Families who have participated in UTR report experiencing less stress around separation, stronger family bonds, and a genuine love for reading. Below are four ways UTR can help your Navy family.
- UTR helps relieve the stress of spouses at home. The program isn’t just for deployed service members and children. It gives spouses at home the privilege of seeing the service member and hearing his or her voice whenever they are needed the most. This alone can ease the stress.
- UTR strengthens the bond between deployed service members and their children. Even though military spouses do all they can to comfort their children when the other parent is away, being able to see the face and hear the voice of their deployed mom or dad provides an added comfort. The regular interaction between the deployed service member and child that’s provided by UTR can truly strengthen and secure the relationship.
- UTR encourages a love for reading and learning. Not only will the recorded videos help lessen your child’s anxiety about not seeing his or her parent, but they will also get consistent exposure to reading, which can help foster a unique love for literature. The read-aloud experience provided by United Through Reading helps to encourage their early literacy development and language skills, and leads to a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.
- UTR makes homecomings easier for the whole family. Homecomings are very emotional times filled with relief, but they can be tough when service members have been deployed for long periods of time. UTR helps with the transition by providing the opportunity for service members and their families to see each other regularly throughout the separation, helping children feel more comfortable and connected with their service member upon their return.
UTR’s current process is to record story-time on camera and mail the video and book home. However, the organization recently announced plans to develop the first free read-aloud app with interactive book features for military families, allowing them to stay connected even more easily during deployment or active-duty assignment. The proposed app will allow for efficient and immediate delivery of the deployed service members’ videos and recordings right to a personal device.
UTR has been helping families with deployed parents for almost 30 years and is currently in more than 200 locations worldwide, including almost every deployed Navy ship. To learn more about the program, the proposed app, or to find a location near you, visit unitedthroughreading.org or find United Through Reading on Facebook.
Thank you to Kara Dallman for today’s guest post!
Kara Dallman is the Senior Director for Development and Strategic Alliances at United Through Reading. She works closely with the CEO and the Board of Trustees’ Development Committee to plan and direct resource development and fundraising to support United Through Reading’s mission delivery.
Kara has ten years of nonprofit management experience.. In 2008, she retired from the Navy as a Commander. She earned her BA from The College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from San Diego State University. A proud Navy spouse for 28 years, Kara is also the mother of two. Email Kara at firstname.lastname@example.org.