By Andrew Carroll

CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT – Army Sgt. 1st Class Ruben Pimentel is a father of three and he uses the USO’s Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to connect with his family while he’s deployed.

“Everything else I’ve done for my job is easy, but this is that special reward,” Pimentel said. “I know I’m not there, but I’m able to connect with my family. Even when I’m 60 years old, I’ll be able to look back and see myself reading to my kids. It’s a family heirloom.”

The USO provides service members with the unique opportunity to record themselves reading a book for their loved ones back home. When they finish recording themselves, the USO then sends the service member’s recording, along with instructions and a copy of the book, to school-aged kids back home.

"The program allows children to connect with their parents with the repetition of reading to them,” said Army Col. Steve Berger, who helped bring the program to his unit in Kuwait. “It gives them the feeling that their parents are still with them, even if they are thousands of miles away.”

"It’s a strong emotional connection,” said Duty Manager Chris Patterson. "You can see it. It’s truly gratifying and the reward is instant. If we’re able connect them back to their loved ones, we’ve done our job.”

–USO Senior Multimedia Journalist Joseph Andrew Lee and USO Content Strategy Manager Sandi Moynihan contributed to this story.