Truman Kicks Off United Through Reading Program

Story Number: NNS071116-13Release Date: 11/16/2007 2:53:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class, Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Sailors held a kick-off ceremony, Nov. 14, to commemorate the beginning of the United Through Reading (UTR) program.

UTR is a program designed to help keep families together during deployments.

"UTR is a morale booster," said Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW/AW) Gene Garland, Administration Department. "Sailors can come and read a book to their child and then send a DVD of that back home."

Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class (SW/AW) Michael Bishop, a volunteer for the program said UTR keeps families connected during the holiday season as well.

The program is actually quite easy. A Sailor signs up for a thirty-minute slot where he is recorded reading a book to a family member. The recording is transferred to DVD and then given to the Sailor to mail home.

"You just sit there and read to your child," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Sean Ehrsam, a laboratory technician with Truman's Medical Department. "I feel the biggest thing to remember is, while you're reading, you're not the captain or the [command master chief], you are that kid's mom or dad or grandparent." Ehrsam said when he was reading to the camera it really felt like his kids were there.

Garland said the readings are filmed in the ship's historical museum because he believes it embodies the essence of Truman.

"It is the best place for sound," Garland added. "And offers a sense of privacy for the Sailor."

Garland said Sailors have a large selection of books to read. The books come from the ship's library and they are also sent out to the ship by groups in Norfolk.

Retired Rear Adm. Stephen Loeffler, a military advisor for UTR said Sailors should get actively involved in the readings. He recalls one time when a Sailor got into a firefighter's suit just so he could read to his child.

This program isn't just for children, Sailors' adult family members can also benefit from it.

"One of the major benefits adults will receive is knowing their families will be able to feel their presence while they're gone," said Bishop. "This will fill that gap or void that may form while the parent is away."

Bishop is confident UTR will be a huge success with the crew and the squadrons.

Garland said UTR is like an all-they-can-read buffet, since there is no limit to how many times a Sailor can sign for a reading.

UTR will be available for Truman Sailors during their long deployment in support of to support maritime security operations in the Central Command area of responsibility.

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