Staying Connected

PACIFIC OCEAN – Deployments can be a time of urgency and stress, not only for Sailors, but for their families as well. Technology’s growing accessibility provides deployed service members more ability than ever before to communicate with their loved ones.

The Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) are taking advantage of the United Through Reading program to alleviate the stress of physical separation. The program enables crewmembers to make a recording of themselves reading a book, and a DVD of the reading is sent home to their families.

“All service members who deploy are making a sacrifice to serve our nation and do our part,” said Lt. Stephen Brown, Mobile Bay’s chaplain. “The United Through Reading program is a great way to have some normalcy and let our loved ones know we love them and will be home soon.”

According to United Through Reading statistics, in 2015, the program served more than 100,000 beneficiaries around the world, including 66 U.S. Navy ships, submarines, aviation and special forces commands.

“I have never had this opportunity before,” said Lt. j.g. Kyle Decker, damage control assistant aboard Mobile Bay. “When I heard about the program, I made sure I was the first to sign up. I knew it would mean the world to my little boy back home.”

Separation is a routine part of military life. Since its founding in 1989, the program has helped to keep families in touch with each other as operational tempos have changed.

“I have done [the program] before on deployment in Afghanistan with the Marines,” said Brown. “It's a great way to create connections between the service member and their loved ones back home. These positive connections help build resiliency and reduce anxiety.”

Combating the daily rigors of deployment by developing a routine can help Sailors keep their mind focused and attentive on the mission ahead. Much in the same way, families at home can make the United Through Reading recordings part of their everyday lives.

“I know my little boy will watch the DVD over and over again and will get more enjoyment from it than I can imagine,” said Decker. “When I left the room after recording the video, I felt like a million dollars. It allowed me to focus further on our mission.”

For more news on USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and John C. Stennis Strike Group visit www.facebook.com/USS-Mobile-Bay-CG-53 or http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/.

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