By Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez
Active-duty military parents can miss a lot when they are deployed overseas: movie nights school plays, family dinners.
But thanks to the USO Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program there’s one family tradition that deployed service members can still continue, no matter where they are in the world–reading bedtime stories. The program allows service members deployed abroad to pick a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child.
Service members currently deployed with Task Force Southwest in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of the NATO Resolute Support Mission, were recently able to use the program during a scheduled USO visit. Those who used it were impressed.
“I think this program is great in what it does for the families,” said Chief Warrant Officer Lance T. Matsumoto, a maintenance management officer with the task force.
“The families, specifically the children, can connect with parents deployed all over the world.”
The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program was created through a partnership between the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation and the USO. From World War II through Vietnam to the Gulf War, Bob Hope traveled the world, visiting remote outposts and isolated battleships to provide entertainment and support our nation’s service members and their families.
Today, the USO mission continues providing the same services for troops abroad and their families. Those serving in austere environments around the world can still contribute to parenting at home through the reading program.
“My son is one and a half and we’re always trying to instill good traits in him like always telling the truth and being accountable for your actions,” said Capt. Nathaniel T. Lemons, a deputy staff judge advocate with the task force.
“The book I chose to read demonstrates in a sort of fun way that lying never pays off and it just gets other people in trouble, and it ends in a bigger predicament for you.”
The reading program has proven popular even at bases outfitted with Wi-Fi or internet connectivity; the program is not only about staying connected but also about the act of sending a physical recording and book back home for the family so they can read it at any time.
“You’re giving them a gift not only in the book but a gift of time as a parent as well,” Lemons said.
“It’s there permanently for them. When my kid repeatedly says ‘dadda read book’, my wife plays the video of me reading while they flip through the pages together. It’s an amazing program and I recommend it.”
-This story originally appeared on DVIDS.net. It has been edited for USO.org.
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