Monday, January 2, 2012

Military Monday - United Through Reading

The people who feel the sting of deployment the most are no doubt our children.  They depend on mom and dad to be there everyday to keep there world solid and stable.  Throw a deployment into their world and you will start to experience immediate problems.

These problems can take the form of withdrawing from other members of the family which is very common.  Your normally sweet loving child can turn into a monster and start fighting with their siblings.  I hear stories all the time of children who are normally star pupils in school all of a sudden forgetting to turn in their assignments or withdrawing from their class buddies or not studying and grades plummeting.  It's a given that when a deployment happens, the first to be affected are the youth!  And it can turn the world of the parent left at home to handle it all, UPSIDE DOWN!

Fortunately, there are a lot of agencies to help you help your kids deal with the stressors of separation of a parent due to deployment.  One I really like is called United Through Reading

Here's a little history on them:

Founded in 1989, United Through Reading is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization.
Their mission is to unite families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.

Their vision is that all children will feel the security of caring family relationships and develop a love of reading through the read aloud experience.

United Through Reading, the nation’s first nonprofit to promote the read aloud experience for separated families, offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children which creates positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading.  By participating, deployed parents can turn downtime into Mommy or Daddy time to help ease the stress of separation, build family resiliency and make homecomings easier.

Kids love to be read to when they are little and we all know that reading together begins the love of reading for children which translates to a world of knowledge.  One of the great ways to keep a deployed service member connected to their child is through video reading.  The service member gets video taped reading a book aloud to their child.  Then the service member sends the DVD home to the child.  The child watches the DVD and an adult member takes a picture or video of the the child's reaction and sends it back to the service member.  It's a WIN/WIN situation. 

The electronic age has made things much easier for deployed service members and their families by providing sites for you to see each other over the web cam.  Having your child see their service member each night on the web cam goes far in easing the stressors of the separation.  However, often times the service member doesn't have but a couple of minutes to spare on the web cam so the "quality time" is not necessarily there.  The child is seeing the parent and maybe getting to talk to them for a minute or two but then every other family member is wanting to see and speak to the service member as well.  United Through Reading gives the service member a way to create that quality time while they are gone.  Trust me when I tell you that the DVD will be watched endlessly and will become a major part of the child's life while their parent is gone.

When you go to the site click on the Military Program Tab at the top of the page.  It will have a section on how to participate which includes a listing of areas where the program is established and I'm very impressed with the fact that it is everywhere, around the world and here at home. 

I encourage you to check this out.  If you are the spouse of a service member and know there is a deployment coming up, be proactive and get involved in the program now.  Take it to your Command Staff for your unit and encourage them to get your unit/company signed up for this.  It will be a step you take that will pay off in the end.


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