USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Religious Ministries Division (RMD) aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) began offering the United Through Reading program to all crew members while underway for COMPTUEX Jan. 13.
United Through Reading is a program designed to allow service members to keep in touch with their children by reading to them on video.
"The United Through Reading program is an awesome tool used to connect Sailors, Marines and other service members to their children and families while on deployment," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist Terry A. Burrell, RMD's leading chief petty officer and United Through Reading coordinator on Enterprise.
Participation in the program is relatively simple. RMD Sailors record the reading session in a private location, copy it to DVD, and then give it to the participating service member to mail home.
The program has proven to be quite successful.
"On the last deployment we had around 1,000 recordings," said Burrell.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class George N. Cintron, the assistant leading petty officer of the ship's bow catapult, and Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Bonita R. Huffman, a customer service supervisor, participated in the United Through Reading program during Enterprise's last deployment.
"My son was one-year-old and it was important to me to have him hear my voice and see my face so that when we returned from cruise he would know who I was," said Cintron.
"I participated in the United Through Reading program last deployment and it was awesome," said Huffman. "After I sent my video off to my son, my mom said that they watched it and listened to it every night."
Burrell said that children will gain experience with words, letters and sounds through the program so when participants are reading they should try to show the book to the camera. He also said one of the program's missions is to motivate and inspire children to read and develop a love for reading.
The ship's library has a variety of children's books for participants to choose from while preparing for their session.
"My son is six-years-old," said Huffman. "He actually asked my mom to buy the books that I read in the video so that he could learn them and read them to me when I got back."
"A lot of the books I read were Dr. Seuss books, and four to five page beginner books featuring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck," said Cintron. "I tried to find books with a lot of pictures so that I could interact with him (my son) as best as I could."
Crew members who are interested in participating in the United Through Reading program can sign up and schedule an appointment with RMD. Appointments are available in 30-minute increments. Anyone serving aboard Enterprise can participate regardless of whether or not they have children.
Burrell, Cintron, and Huffman agreed the program is a great way for service members to keep in contact with any family member.
"I think my wife enjoyed it too," said Cintron, "I feel like anyone with a loved one, but especially a child, should participate in this program."
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