|Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON Staff
Source: Carolyn Erickson
Wednesday, 06 August 2008
Story and photo by Carolyn Erickson
Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON Staff
The Fort Leonard Wood United Service Organizations has a program to help families stay “United Through Reading” when a military parent is away from home.
The program, located at the USO on Iowa Avenue, offers parents the opportunity to record themselves reading a book to their children, then send the book and recording to their family for free.
Parents can bring their own book, or chose from one of many free children’s books available at the USO. The parent can write a note to their child on the inside of the book, then read the book in front of a fairytale background in a private office. The USO will then mail the book and DVD to the parent’s child at any date the parent desires.
Hope Berry, whose husband deployed in May, currently volunteers with the program because of how much it helped her family.
“I saw a flier about (the book reading program) in the library and suggested it to my husband,” Berry said. “He wanted to do it. He’s really concerned that the baby won’t know what he looks like. I show (the video) to (the baby) if not daily, then every other day. I recommend others do it — it’s why I’m here today.”
One Soldier, who has been away from her son since he was 9 months old, used the program and shared how she felt after recording the book.
“It was pretty fun,” Pvt. Ashley Harrell said. “I felt a little weird, but I pretended (my son) was right there with me. All I could think about was him at home watching TV with me reading the book. It’s a good experience for anyone with kids to do.”
Another Soldier who used the program a few weeks ago while here for training shared why he chose to do it.
“I used to read to (my children) before I left … and I miss reading to them,” Pvt. David Braun said. “It was hard for me to read, I’ll admit that. It’s pretty quiet in the office when you do it. You’re nervous, but it’s not too bad.”
Elizabeth Potskowski, USO facility manager, explained how the program can be tailored to fit an individual or deploying unit’s needs.
“We can bring the whole program – books, recorder, DVDs – to units that are deploying so they can film in-between stations,” Potskowski said.
“People can bring their own books in if they have a special book that they read to their kids,” Potskowski said. “We’ve had people bring in a Bible and read a passage.”