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Dad on DVD: USO-hosted United Through Reading Military Program Helps Navy Pilot Stay in Touch

Monday, June 10, 2013

By Eric Brandner 

Victor Glover’s life sounds like a master class on multitasking.

He’s a lieutenant commander in the Navy. A pilot. A legislative fellow in Sen. John McCain’s Washington office.

And when he comes home, his title changes from “sir” to “Dad,” with four young daughters waiting for him.

“I like to use ‘kinetic,’” the 36-year-old Glover said about life with his four girls.

Keeping up with Genesis, 10, Maya, 8, Joia, 6 and Corinne, 5, is a bit easier during his current assignment on Capitol Hill. But recent years of deployments created plenty of gaps in their family history.

When preparing for his spring 2012 deployment from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, to the Middle East, Glover noticed an email circulating about the United Through Reading’s Military Program hosted by the USO. As his squadron’s operations officer, Glover went to his commander to see about setting up a time for his fellow deployers to record themselves reading books and sending messages to their children before departing downrange.

With just two days to coordinate the effort, Glover notified his squad about the program. The response was overwhelming.

“I sent out an email to all the squadron giving all the times they were going to be available and it filled up within an hour,” he said. “The [USO programs manager] showed up early, she started early and she was willing to stay late.”

United Through Reading’s Military Program – available to troops around the world via the USO or directly through United Through Reading – gives deployed troops the chance to make a DVD of themselves reading an age-appropriate book to their kids back home. When they complete a USO-hosted event, either United Through Reading or the USO sends the DVD and a copy of the book to the family.

Shannette Abney, USO Japan’s programs coordinator, says she’s facilitated nearly 20 United Through Reading events with deploying soldiers and sailors since joining the USO in January.

She knows firsthand the impact the videos have on military families.

“Being a military spouse, I see the joy these readings have brought to my own kids, there is no greater feeling,” Abney wrote in an email. “The sailors and soldiers that I’ve recorded have been just as excited as the families receiving the package. I tell them to make it as personal as they’d like and I even step out of the room so that they feel they are having that personal time with their loved one.

“I have personally seen the [United Through Reading] program bring joy to so many, and that is why I am always excited when I have a scheduled recording. It’s the little things that make a huge difference.”

Glover not only set up the spring 2012 event at Atsugi from the command side, but he also recorded one video for each of his four girls before his six-month deployment.

“They loved them,” he said. “Kids like to watch one movie over and over and over again. They play them and they’ll listen to that same book even though they’ve got it memorized.”

Glover feels the videos not only provided entertainment, but also helped keep their father-daughter bonds strong until he returned.

“It was important. They really got a kick out of being able to see me,” Glover said. “At the end of the recordings, I said a message to them. I used each of their names and I said something to the effect of ‘I love you, be good, be supportive to your mom and goodnight’ because I imagined they’d do the books right before bedtime.”

* * * 

(Photo caption:Navy Lt. Cdr. Victor Glover and his wife Dionna pose with their children Joia, 6, Corinne, 5, Genesis, 10, and Maya, 8. Photo courtesy of the Glover family.) 

* United Through Reading works with military commands deployed around the globe to record troops reading and send DVDs back to their families. Visit the organization's How to Participate page for more details. 

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