SASEBO, JAPAN – Introduced to Lassen this month, the nationally acclaimed nonprofit organization United Through Reading Program aims to help military men and women stay connected with their families in a unique way. Founded by Betty J. Mohlenbrock, a mother and a military wife of a flight surgeon deployed during the Vietnam War, United Through Reading provides servicemen and women the opportunity to read to their children back home via video.
Mohlenbrock experienced the stress of family separation while her husband was deployed. Once he returned from duty, their two-year old daughter had difficulty recognizing and reconnecting with her father. As a result Mohlenbrock founded United Through Reading in 1989.
Many sailors onboard Lassen deal with the same family separation anxiety that Betty Mohlenbrock experienced. In fact, more than one million American children are separated from one or both parents due to military deployments. On board Lassen, United Through Reading gives sailors the ability to stay engaged and interact with their families while the ship is forward deployed in the 7th Fleet.
“My kids and I love to read together when I am home and this program lets me continue to bond with them through reading even when I am out to sea,” said Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Sandra Lewis. In addition to easing the stress of separation for sailors and their families, the program helps increase the sense of security for children, allowing a much smoother transition back to family life once the service member returns from deployment.
As an added benefit, the program fosters a love of reading and helps children get a head start in their education. The goal for Lassen is to enroll all members separated from their families. United Through Reading also sponsors Reading Rockets, Zero to Three, and Military Children Coalition which are all designed to develop early literacy skills in children from birth through second grade. Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen (DESRON 15) and is currently in port Sasebo, Japan.