Sterett Sailors Stay Connected to Family, Friends with United Through Reading
USS STERETT, At Sea - Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) stayed connected with friends and families back home by participating in the United Through Reading (UTR) program, April 20.
UTR is a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading together," according to the UTR website.
The program works by recording videos of Sailors reading books and talking to their family, and then sending those videos back home. The reactions of children watching the videos are often recorded and sent back to the deployed service members.
Sterett has been participating in UTR since deploying Dec. 7, 2011, with 38 Sailors using the program. In addition, Sterett Sailors have also recorded readings for Dailard Elementary School in San Diego, where Sterett is homeported, and the Corry Station Child Development Center in Pensacola, Fla. Sailors read for their own children as well as their children's friends who attend these schools.
"Having used the program myself, I believe this is a great way to let our children know we are thinking of them even when we are far away," said Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class Kristen Steele, one of Sterett's UTR coordinators. "We get to see the smiles on our Sailors' faces while they are reading, and I know their children are smiling at home as well."
Sterett plans to continue its participation with UTR throughout its entire deployment, said Personnel Specialist Gerardo Arbulu, another UTR coordinator.
"We will continue to record the videos weekly and make sure that every Sailor knows of this great opportunity to stay connected with their children back home," said Arbulu.
Sterett and USS Momsen (DDG 92) are part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, currently embarked on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 also includes USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Carrier Air Wing 2. CSG 9 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.