USO program helps 'Black Jack' Soldiers stay connected
December 29, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, got the opportunity to record a video of them reading children's books aloud as part of the United Service Organization's United through Reading program at the 1st Cavalry Division Soldier and Family Readiness Center at Fort Hood from Dec. 8-12.
Once the videos are completed they are given to the Soldier's children at home to keep in touch with their deployed parent.
According to Lucy Limon, the wife of a deployed Soldier and USO volunteer, Soldiers who are about to deploy can select a book offered at no charge from the USO and read it while being recorded in a separate room for privacy.
"We set it up so they (deploying Soldier) can show pictures while they are reading, and they can get animated and not be embarrassed," Limon said.
The Soldiers can keep the book they select from the USO in order to give to their children so they might read along with the video recording of their parent. According to Limon, this will allow the children to have something to relate with the deployed parent on and can follow along "together".
"It gives them (the children) a chance to see their parents," Limon said. "They get to hear their parents' voice that is away and that is a very valuable thing."
Limon also stated the program offers a lifetime of memories for those children who lose a parent.
The program is really good because we had a Soldier pass away and it was something the children could use to remember their father for, Limon said.
Staff Sgt. Joseph James from Rice Lake, Wis., a military police officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., prepared for several months to make his video at the behest of his wife.
James thinks pictures are dull and believes the video, instead of pictures, is a great help for his three children; 7-month old Claudia, 9-year old Dakota, and 11-year old Zak.
"I want them to be able to see their father in animation," James said.
James also wants to make sure his 7-month old does not forget her father's voice.
Lorton, Va. native, Capt. Katherine Gowel, who serves as the 2nd BCT Trial Counsel, also took part in the program and believed the video to be more personal than a photo and was a good tool to have.
Gowel, who has two children, a 5-year old and 18-month old, is preparing to deploy along with other Soldiers of the 'Black Jack' Brigade, and wanted to make sure she left something behind for her children.
"I did it so (my children) can stay connected with me and so the baby won't forget who I am," Gowel said. "Everyone should do it".
Limon said the videos are finalized on location and then given to the Soldier. Also, Soldiers who were not able to get a chance to make their video at the 1st Cavalry Division Soldier and Family Readiness Center, can still do so through the Fort Hood USO office or even in Kuwait. There are also select areas to make the video once deployed to Iraq.