Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. --
Deployments are a reality service members and their families expect when
they join the military. Extended separation can be hard even for adults to
deal with, and children may feel disconnected and confused as to why mom or
dad is not home.
The United Through Reading program helps children bond with deployed
parents by giving service members opportunities to record videos of
themselves reading books on camera. The service member can then leave the
video for their children to watch during their absence.
The Marine Corps Air Station New River Library has the equipment to make
the program available to all deploying service members.
The program was previously available only at the United Service
Organization of North Carolina. Headquarters Marine Corps has expanded the
budget for installation libraries to participate, said Suzan Caughlan, UTR
program manager for the Marine Corps.
All a service member has to do is visit the library and tell a librarian he
wants to participate in the program, said Lynda Bryan, air station library
The library has a quiet room for the service member to record a book from
the library, or a book from home if the child has a favorite, she added.
The staff advises service members on how to talk and relax in front of the
Service members can take their time reading to the camera, as there is no
set time limit. Service members are not limited to one book or one session
ether; they can return on a different day to finish their book or read a
After they are happy with the recording, the librarian makes a DVD of the
reading so the family can pick it up at anytime.
The service member can break the recording up into chapters, books, or at
timed intervals, so children can repeat their favorite chapters or read a
different book with their parent.
Parents can leave behind the book so the child can read along with them,
The program is available at more places than the base library. There are
recording centers in Afghanistan, Africa and aboard Marine Expeditionary
Units as well. They offer the ability to send more videos to families back
home, said Caughlan.
In deployed settings, chaplains run the program. Caughlan talks with them
every month to ensure the program is running smoothly and to see if there
are any areas for improvement, she said.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Arce deployed with Combat Logistics Regiment 2 to
Afghanistan early in January and was the first Marine to use the United
Through Reading program aboard the air station, said Bryan.
He read several books to his 4-year-old son Jayden.
His wife, Carol, saw that her son was feeling sad about not having his
father around and felt it was the best time to show him the video.
“As soon as he saw the video pop up and daddy with his favorite book in
hand, he immediately lit up,” she said.
Carol told the library she was grateful for “bringing a ray of sunshine
into the emotional storm that is this deployment.”
For more information, call 910-449-6715 or visit