Soldiers, Families stay connected using reading program
Sgt. Teresa Wilt, a native of Temple, Texas, and personnel actions noncommissioned officer, reads a book during recording for her family using the United through Reading program, a partnership between the 260th CSSB and the United Service Organizatio... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq -- "That is good," said the fish. "He's gone away, yes. But your mother will come. She will find this big mess," goes the timeless story of the Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Children of all ages and generations have been captivated by the words of Dr. Seuss and other authors, taking them to places of fantasy and wonder.

In reality, a reading program allows Soldiers in Iraq an opportunity to reach across the miles and be part of their children's wonder and imagination.

United Through Reading is a program sponsored by the United Service Organizations, in partnership with the 260th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. The program allows Soldiers to share an opportunity of reading with their children back home.

The 260th CSSB set up a room in the Chaplain's office, where Soldiers will go to read books and record onto a CD-DVD, while sending a video message back home to their children.

This program allows families to watch the videos and share the joy of reading, while remaining close by using technology.

"This is a very good tool that we use to communicate with our families back at Hunter," said Chaplain Sean Facchinello, a native of Richmond Hill, Ga., and the battalion's Chaplain.

Facchinello, along with the his assistant Pfc. Christopher Perry, a Virgin Islands native, get logistic support from the USO program coordinators with a decorated room with books, a video camera and disks.

Soldiers can pick from a selection of donated books to read to their children while being recorded. During recording, Soldiers are encouraged to be animated and excited, like they were back home reading to their children. When Soldiers are done, Perry ensures that the disk cannot be written on, packages the materials and sends them home to the Soldier's family.

The 260th CSSB hopes to grow the program and influence other units to participate in such a worthy cause. The unit is working with publishing companies, local Savannah merchants and working with the Family Readiness Group to sponsor book drives.

With help from the USO, the 260th hopes to continue to receive small donations of books for different reading and age levels, allowing everyone a chance to reach out and share in the joy of reading.

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him," a quote from Maya Angelou, rings true and the United through Reading gives Soldiers simple tools necessary to touch their children's hearts and minds back home.