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United Through Reading (UTR) is a San Diego-based non-profit organization that helps connect military families around the world through reading.

Even though we live in the age of Skype and Facetime, those who are deployed are rarely in the same time zone as their loved ones. What UTR does is allow those military parents to visit one of 200 locations worldwide and record themselves reading books aloud for their children to view on a DVD at home.

In 1989, the wife of a deployed Naval flight surgeon saw that when her husband returned, their little daughter didn’t recognize her dad, and it took time to reestablish their bond. Seeing a need, that military spouse launched United Through Reading. The program creates emotional connections between parents and their children, encourages literacy, and makes homecomings easier.

Last year, the organization distributed more than 10,000 books this way to military children around the globe. To date, almost two million service member families have participated in this program.

One military spouse shared, “Our daughter watches her videos every day and loves them. She reads along with her daddy and dances to his singing. It has helped to keep him in her life constantly and greatly eases the transition of his coming home. Without this program, many children would not know their deployed parent upon their return.”

UTR National Program Managers are working directly with nearly 200 Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard commands — and 60 select USO locations that are hosting the program.

Recently, UTR was honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s “Community Service Hero Award.”  The honor was in recognition of the support UTR provides to U.S. military families.

If you would like to learn about how you can contribute to keep this great program, visit them online at http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/giving/ways-to-give/