USO, United Through Reading Partnership Links Deployed Families for Holidays
Friday, December 27, 2013
By Joseph Andrew Lee
Once a month, Army Spc. James Gleason walks into the USO at
Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan and picks out a book to read to his
2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Jameson. He’ll make extra reading trips for
special occasions like Halloween and Christmas.
While Gleason won’t be with his little girl this holiday
season, his presence will still fill their California home thanks to the UnitedThrough Reading Military Program.
Many USO centers downrange have private rooms with a
collection of books where troops can record themselves reading a story to their
children back home. The USO then ships each book and recording to their
families back home and encourages the families to complete the circle of
communication by taking a photo of their children watching the recording to
send back to their deployed parent.
The program has been keeping military families connected during
deployments since 2006.
“My daughter absolutely loves the books,” wrote Gleason, who
recently posted a picture to the USO Kandahar
Facebook page of Jameson kissing his image on the television screen. “Every
time she gets one she has the same reactions. She always asks for me and kisses
[my image on the screen].”
“It surprised her when she heard my voice. … She said, ‘Hi daddy!
Thank you for reading to me!’”
The program partnership will create holiday moments that
Gleason – who is on his first deployment to Afghanistan – and thousands of
American troops with families back home will remember.
"It means everything to me,” he wrote. “I'm fighting for my
girls and those reactions are priceless.”
* * *
Photo caption: Army Spc. James Gleason gets a virtual kiss from his daughter, Jameson,
as she watches his recording sent via the USO’s partnership with United Through
Reading’s Military Program at their California home. (Photo courtesy of James
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