USS VICKSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) have been staying connected to their families through the ship's United Through Reading program.
United Through Reading is a non-profit public benefit organization founded in 1989 with the purpose of uniting deployed service members with their families back home.
Through the program, Sailors are able to videotape themselves reading books to their children and loved ones. The videos are then sent to the Sailors' families to view.
"Kids will touch the screen and really feel closer to their loved ones," said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Gregory L. Bosworth, coordinator of the ship's United Through Reading program.
"I was in charge of the program on USS Carney (DDG 64), so when they were looking for someone for Vicksburg, I jumped at the chance," said Bosworth. "I participated on my last deployment and sent videos to my nieces and nephews, but now I am sending videos to my wife who is expecting our first child while I am deployed."
Most Sailors who participate in the program take part more than once.
"I have recorded for my son at least five times," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Derek J. Marsik. "It helps me feel connected to my family back home. United Through Reading helps me and my family stay in touch."
Some Sailors aboard Vicksburg received proof of their children enjoying their United Through Reading videos.
"My wife has sent me photos of my kids watching the videos I send," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class (SW/IDW) Mark D. Simpson. "I have two girls and one boy and I make videos for all of them. I never knew about it before I was on Vicksburg, but this program has made this deployment go so much more smoothly for me and my family."
More than 30 Sailors take advantage of this program every month aboard Vicksburg.
Vicksburg is on her final deployment and is currently operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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