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America Supports You: Program Helps Military Families Stay Connected

American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 21, 2004 – With so many U.S. troops on lengthy deployments overseas, the Family Literacy Foundation is helping ease fear, uncertainty and anxiety in children in military families through a program called "Uniting Through Reading."

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Marine Cpl. Christopher Heaton of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit reads a book from aboard the USS Peleliu. Courtesy photo

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Uniting Through Reading enables deployed parents onboard Navy ships, at air stations abroad, and in tents throughout the world to share their love and support with their children by reading favorite books on videotape.

"We have had amazing feedback about the positive effects of this program," said Betty Mohlenbrock, founder of the Family Literacy Foundation. "Children read aloud and talk to their parent while watching the videotape. The spouse at home tapes that reaction and sends it overseas. The morale of the whole family is boosted."

The program has many benefits: children's fears are eased, deployed parents get a chance to share their love and support, and children receive essential communication and literacy skills.

Uniting Through Reading offers children a chance to see their deployed parent's face, listen to the parent's voice and read along as the parent reads them a children's story. It also allows them to spend as much time with the deployed parent as they wish by watching the videotape over and over again.

Developed during the Gulf War in 1991, Uniting Through Reading is available on all carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, and Marine Corps expeditionary units and construction battalions, representing approximately 20,000 families on ships and in land-based units.

"Deployment doesn't only affect those who have volunteered for service. It affects hundreds of thousands of children as well," said Mohlenbrock. "Our goal is to lessen the strain of separation and increase bonding through the positive, educational experience that reading aloud provides."

(From a Family Literacy Foundation news release.)

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Related Sites:
Family Literacy Foundation

Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Sample reads a book from aboard the USS Peleliu. Courtesy photo  
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