What kid doesn’t like a good bedtime story? With United Through Reading, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) Sailors and Marines can make it home just in time to tuck the kids in with a goodnight story. Service members across every platform in TRCSG unite to read children’s story books and literature on camera for family members to enjoy.
United Through Reading volunteers provide service members with video cameras to read directly to their loved ones while out to sea.
“United Through Reading is a wonderful program that helps people stay connected with their family and their friends through reading books,” said Navy Counselor 1st Class Jessica Uribe, command career counselor aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).
“Our library ranges from infant books to junior high books, and I’ve even had some people come in and read poetry for both their child and spouse.”
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailor Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Christine Rivera took advantage of the opportunity.
“It’s not just reading a book, you can talk to them,” said Rivera. “You can leave them a message. It gives you that time by yourself with your family to tell them how you’re doing and to let them know you’re doing okay.”
The program is free to all Sailors with the exception of mailing costs.
“The only cost to Sailors is the shipping to send the video out, everything else is completely free. You can even keep the book you read if we have multiple,” said Uribe. “It’s also a great volunteer opportunity for Sailors that they can actually use to work toward their [Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal].”
United Through Reading is designed to ease the stress Sailors experience while deployed away from family, said Uribe.
“Before I knew about [United Through Reading] I made a video for my kids,” said Churchill’s Ensign Christopher Hetherington. “It’s a relief to know that I have this available to me. I’d advise any service member to take advantage of it.”
Anyone interested in the United Through Reading program, or volunteering to help, should contact Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class William Murdy or stop by the Command Religious Ministry Department.
“We’re out here more than we’re in port and we don’t have video chat, so it’s great to be able to surprise your kids with a DVD that’s just for them,” said Uribe. “So when they get to missing dad, mom, auntie, or uncle, whoever it is, all they have to do is pop in the DVD and they have them right there with them.”
Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Drew, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs