Sunday, November 27th


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Good morning and welcome to another edition of living veteran San Diego public service presentation of the at a town San Diego radio stations and Jerry Lee. For children of parents in the military deployments can be very difficult for them united through reading helps them through this fiscal separation. By offering military service members the opportunity to video record them selves reading books to their children. At home. There's not only benefits children but parents as well. Joining us this morning is united through reading CEO Sally and soul. And US navy's Dallas Stephanie Nelson welcome Sally welcome Stephanie thank you much good morning. Good morning thanks that my pleasure and a good morning to both view. Sally let's let's start a little bit with a little bit of us some background information tells little about a united through reading. He nicer green was founded here in San Diego over 27 years ago by a young navy's Alice. Her husband had been deployed to Vietnam and when he returned their daughter was two years old and did not recognize. He and at all so it was a very painful. Transition in reunification for that family. This young mom was also are reading teacher. And she understood the emotional connection comes when a child crawls up in your lap or you watch. Somebody read a story to you and she put all of this together and set a hot. We've got ship's Steward meeting here every day to go train to deploy. And if these sailors could read to their children. And it children can watch him read every single night while daddy a mommy was gone that we reunification she and her family suffered. Would be taking Kara and indeed that's what she did she started here in San Diego. Pulling out our Internet locations around the world serving every branch of service now 20200. I was asking the and you're based here in San yes but but how many were in the in the United States you know that's a tough question I would suspect a little over half. But when you say in sandy I think in in the United States so many of our ships take this forward so. They're not in the United States now that the United States navy ships so what is what is the the mission and or vision. A united threw me on the mission is that every child feels that emotional bonding that emotional connection. That comes from having an adult green tea that's the mission. And so we want what we want to do is to ensure that every child has that opportunity when their parent in is operated from him in the united states military. And since its inception Emily military families have used the struggle that's a great question thanks for asking over two million military family members. In the 27 years have been touched by united through reading. Last year alone a 100000 and what what what's your background what brought you to united through reading. It's also a great question and we are military family my husband has had retired army reservist our son is currently in the army reserve. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We did not know about united through reading in 2003. Our son was. Mobilizing and and 72 hours to go to Iraq for the invasion it was quite a scary time for us. I said to his wife record Corey reading a storybook or two or three. And she says that's a great idea we'd never heard of the united through reading. She according Corey reading five Storey books including greens in hand. I can and we'll watch that every night for fourteen months because Corey was gone for fourteen months he was not able to come home during that period of time. And when he came home eat and and gone from eighteen months to over two and a half years he picked Corey out of a crowd at midnight at the airport where running to him saying daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy. Jumped in his arms and knew his daddy because his daddy had been meeting screenings and hand every single day fourteen months. That's our personal experience. And it in 2006. I was approached by a board member of the united through reading sane have you heard united through reading. We're doing a search for a CEO. He told me in the mission and I say I think it's I think this isn't done. Because we have experienced it outside development and the united through reading I was so anxious to be able to have so many of them families experience what we have and why through reading I mean there's other ways to connect and stay connected with with the those that are deployed. And theft. I mean I think any talk to anyone rate greetings greetings the great equalizer aids it's. And I you read four or for pleasure you read for our education and net you read for enjoyment. And that doesn't stop you know when I am a service members deployed and as parents we also take up reading really early on to teach our children. And to keep that parenting going so it's it's in a role to Stanley life and you know rather young kids are knots and Mitsui to cannot turn it. You know that's really the great part of it and what we've really found to be you know what keeps it going and why we keep coming back. Now you're bureau you've used united through reading several times your husband. Isn't in the navy right yes yes yes and as he currently deployed he would yes. Where's yet. I'm he's on a sheath. Life if he's on a ship didn't you know he's heading west stack you know there's a lot that we don't now and that's kind of part of the job that. What we do now and what we did talk a lot about you know before he last is how we stay connected. And then like I said how being used the program before. It was something that we went to pretty quickly and okay. I am parried it talked to dad when we can't you know get a phone call or can't get an email all and right away honestly you know the kids and while will be at united or reading any quickly sort of tighten up the books that they wanted him to read and it was kind of a great way to defuse some of that. Early lead to a deployment which can be very emotional for families lives first time that she used it. You b.'s actually amnesty back in 2009. And have only lived in Jacksonville Florida. And my house and is looking at at deployment for about six to seven months and we have three kids very young at the time. And my youngest was I guess is that fourteen ninths. I am in my eldest is really threes they are all really and say it was it was a lot seriously think about you know as parents to have power your. Stay connected and you know what we're gonna do that I was lucky enough to have down the street from you militant base housing and actually had three volunteer. And I didn't know her very well banking this year Palestinians and high you know I kind of see where you're going through just to make sure you know about our program. And I didn't and I didn't know about the program it's amazing you know you you learn Cinemax or military life and there's so many resources. You know win. When he learned about it only used it we just we didn't look back it was great. And so that's how you first found out that that was how we first found out about it and it was kind different experience you know in usage when your cancer. Not reading when your reading Saddam when you're teaching them the alpha that you know and it really is truly a way that they're able to. Look on the street and have to special recognition with dad or mom. It's different experience it's equally rewarding and was very very useful for us and like I said with such. A release of waited to keep contact. But we still come back to so even though you know years later my kids they can read they can take a puck in their room and read on their owner. I could read to them or you know they've got their screens hayride and they can do it themselves it's nothing like. Like getting a video from dad you know and just having that personal connection of the story time whenever they want so it's been very. All of your children Abu rate now they're 1110. And saddened and she made yet. A great point Gary we call mommy or daddy on demand. Because you know it's when it's when you're three year old it doesn't going to downtrend happen is just kind of cranky. And you put mama and because moms and gone for three months and suddenly comments in the living room right there with you. And you put the blanket and you watch mom I read a story and you know in a B two million back. And the child is relaxed and comforted because mom is in the room and brings a touch of normalcy touching every day back home to the family. Absolutely as telling Sally hadn't seen her in awhile and and yeah finance and her she asked me how that the plan is going in her early and you know it's only man and a couple weeks back you know that's really the transition time of adjusting to you know the service number being on in. I mean a lot of the emotion and that still is attacks so that they told or it could be you know we got our first packet videos from from my house I didn't. I am and I said it was such a game changer that night his beard just you know we can't have any everybody's eyes be just you just have one of those days straight. One of those days where nothing is going raid everybody's kind of in a funk. And I said hey we got these video as you and Watson and it totally just turn the whole night around for. Since sounds totally changed and it it was great. Net now united through reading has. Been recognized for its work any impact several times. 2016 community services hero award 2015 American prize Library of Congress literacy awards. And best in America charity what are what are these kind of accolades mean to an organization like yours. Well. That's and it's quite amazing quite humbling. And the American cries from the library of congress of course. Is speaking to what we're doing to impact. Literacy in our military families it was quite spectacular for us but we're we're small organization here we have less than ten employees to. He makes this work around the world and so. Pressed to be recognized by The Library of Congress. Four are working literacy. It really spoke to. The good work that we are doing. And helped magnify I guess the work that we're doing within illiteracy round so I think it makes is sort of like the good housekeeping seal of approval you know. That and that all of god sees people do not only do they send books to the the kids. But they really are doing something good in literacy so that in itself was amazing. In 2016. We were notified by the congressional medal of honor society. That we were going to received the first ever. Citizens he her award for an organization. That congressional medal of honor society is made up of all. Living medal of honor recipients. And every year they each use. Two to three he wrote his individual citizen he grows. Two recognized for their work with military families in 2016. He decided to choose an organization. That supports military families. And they cherish united through reading. So as you know there'll how it's a wonderful organizations out there that supports our military the US cell. Fisher house and military child education coalition against. Taps are tremendous organizations and so for us to be selected out of that. Big basket of goodness. And be the first honoree and was tumbling beyond the gotta make you feel good and makes us feel amazing. So how does the program work. They're videos that the service manner or women. Record right yes so we are blessed to have our program run by. Volunteers around the world. So for example on Stephanie has been ship. There are active duty. Sailors. On that particular ship who run the program. And so they have books they have a little library set up they have a video camera and they have dvds. And they have a sign up sheets. And they advertising and you might want to speak to that more about how they advertise on it ship and X. I mean and it's so funny I mean sure they advertised it in all honesty it's such a great program it's really word of mouth I mean it it's Brad it's pretty much like wildfire you know and it's often. A topic of conversation. I think I mean it commands will say and when new sailors. Check scanner before it ships about to leave or you know of Marines are on board a cable wares that you have united their eating comes up a lot and it's it's great most often. You know command says yes Biggio and it's just. And matter where it is and to get him going because a lot of people looked at. And it is very long man and so and you know oftentimes I think it sometimes India and the chaplains office you know it's essential location. See there's usually no you know two places the Nassau in the south I thought hey. Yeah I think it's thought that and the Arab friends really really well. So they sign up then they don't sign up ahead of time before they're deployed well that's another great question. Typically in this particular situation where they're bishops are deploying he will do that once they get to see. And they will sign up in Macon scientists many times as they want there's a library of books there. They will go in the active duty person who is volunteering to run the program will say held held to sign. My son is five a little has the constitution yet know he's probably gonna lose it to see you know there's a great book here about losing accused. Might wanna read it train because that maybe a moment that you're going to miss. How well your way or might the girls learning to ride a bicycle here's a great book it's called duck on a bike. And each she would love this so. These people are trained by our staff to talk about the books that might have an impact on the families while their way. So they sit down the cameras focused on him and then. The door closes her all by themselves we give them their privacy any say hi if your dad and I'm gonna reaching unity day about a duck on a bike isn't that silly and they proceed to read. When they're done they opened the door and me volunteer comes and could set off it's nine dvd Hanson DDD hands in the book he ends in the mailer. He can write a note provider in whatever and then Amy. It is time replica appointment she talks about it being you know a place for they close the door and me. Have that moment mean and we have to remember a lot of times. These service members these men and women are doing very hard jobs there and very dangerous situations. Than in and day out. To have that little moment to kind of decompress TO. And connect with their family and be goofy you know and redefine but it's it does so much for round tko. Do you gifted to pick books ahead of time if you if you were to sign up earlier before you were deployed of course and we also advise that you pack a book. So if he is a special book that's you know special to your family. Pack a book or two or three. We have at a great story about a fellow who had promised his daughter that he would be home for her high school graduation. And he had taken the book doctor seuss' oh the places you'll go. He picked that up while he was away intending to give it to her when he came home and he was going to be different graduation two weeks before of course it as in all military situations. Nothing is ever certain. And he found out he was not going to be home for high school graduation. Told his daughter on the phone she was devastated beyond belief. On a Sissy and at the world for her. And two days before graduation she got in the mail and dvd and a book over the place to show ago she watched it with their mom. She went into their bedroom and her mom said to me well I thought that can go well. And she peeked in on our daughter got I was on the phones and you've got to get over here and see what my dad sat me. And said thirty minutes later she had six high school eighteen year old high school girls on the couch watching her husband had to meet a Dr. Seuss oh the places you'll go. And so a bad demonstrates that it's it's ageless. An eighteen year old can get and just as much comfort from dad reading new book as an eight month old. And it also tell you that he had he had prepared to bring that book home to her but he couldn't but he yet. He was able to bring that the culture. Andy five if there's a lot of servicemen and women that that. Don't know about before there's deployed and then there's surprising their family with with these videos oh absolutely absolutely and you hear over and over Ernie. Yeah and that the spouse gets us on the open to me has no idea what it is and opens up a system on the block. And is a dvd. And it puts an end and up on my gosh it's very meaningful to the spouse to. That is an irony in seeing on the flip side you know military spouses were resourceful and we're resilient and when we find out. There's a good thing around there that helps us through deployment and beads spread the word. So it's not and con and also had to have through a military spouse network or family support group. That is Stanley members telling the sailor or the service number. Haiti to head down to the south and not Cassini to do this book sitting eat out and then they're the ones educating that was so it's wonderful. As Tenet telling the gift that keeps on give as you can watch it over and over again. That's concept except I just try to I mean that's absolutely true and we know that over 80% of our children. Watch his videos every single night they are watch over and over and over again. Several years ago general Odierno in his wife Linda Odierno he was the chief of the army. And they recorded a story for their grandson he sent to their grandson their daughter called and said mom. He just watched it seventeen times. And Linda to bully you to Scotty yes change he says I'm now happened seventeen times he's watched it since yesterday. So it really is something if something comfort but it's also not surprising because if you if you have ever read it a book too small child. As soon as you finish a sick again. And again and again you're just oh my goodness that we have to meet at my only time that yes you do because. That's what they want they comfort from that they get enjoyment from it and there's really search that sense that is more important to read the same book several times to child. Ten times than it is to read ten books one time because of the repetition the vocabulary. They cadence the context they start to get all of that. In that supports literacy peace. Has there cost for the first match I serviceman in an amendment we are a nonprofit that serves them front and back. So let's let's talk about some of the benefits. Aside from reading aloud which is huge benefit on its own that. There's got to be other benefits that the service members and their family or are reaping from this program. I I would suggest that Stephanie can speak is the better as well because her husband is there. The commanding officer bishop in terms of the morale of the deployed sailor and what that does and how important that is to mention chip. Absolutely I am I mean I think if you if you look at any workplace right we'll take the military out of that. If your employees are happy if your employees are taking care of things go after writing race. Pakistan as an employer you can rest easy you can focus on the work to be done and I'm the same can be sent her for whatever situations there in its mouth so yes absolutely for people to. I am happy piece of mine did that there are staying connected with their family. That there's still communicating with fair children and it's not always children mean and it could be ennui after Grammer. Our service Emerson and our very young they may have younger siblings comments at all. That they were you know a huge part of their family life and their now. Out of that seemly unit so. There's still contributing and your members of that family will then they can focus on the job at hand side so absolutely it is it is a huge part of that. You know I'd talk about can't just a matter Alleman you know. Take that they kids out of it I mean if you look at you know first oust this. You know. One of the biggest things about deployment in preparing for an in his power are we going to incorporate the person that's leading how are they still gonna feel included in our family or as a parent. And it's something that we talk about you know the literacy or children or. Or connecting with and and he knows that he is still included in its. And he's misses a lot he misses the entire school year he misses an entire you know athletic season and he never sees any games breaking news. That he is and reading a story to them every night and again like fat is good for our marriage. Interest have been together eighteen is that when he's sending me I am a buck or you know or a dvd like maybe it's helping me house that night you know okay is. It's just his time off I mean when you're doing a laugh and sound absolutely it's it it crosses a lot of a lot of things for us that I would say definitely help out with with military life what are your kids think about how they allotted to think about it. You know like Sally mentioned I think. You in there younger these that they really loved skating my hasn't had a great job live and doing the individual books for each one of them. So each child had add something that came in the mail all. You know that was and address to baton you know we don't get mail lot anymore so that was like Christmas every time and Psycho my guys you have a letter you know for a fighter holed that huge right. And then on top of it it's a dvd. An army even of vodka but yet now it's just it's their own personal connection that is maintained. And bros you know even though their fathers and. Is a great another great story and we could tell stories of how they affect idea they tell us they they explain what we do better than we do. But am I young my always telling me she had three children probably much like you Stephanie I think there were three unity for four. And she said did you spend a day holidays. She was just done. Had fed the kids and given them back and she said they were wild and wound up and she can get him calmed down she was ready to cry. And she said and I think. Our kids dads gonna watch you for a minute and she senate put in a dvd. And she said they all just like melted into the couch and they started watching. She went into the kitchen cleaned up after dinner. She was able to put the food away do the dishes clean up the bathroom and come back they were all drowsy she put commit add. And and her husband call. And she said honey you saved the day yeah thank you for watching the kids now think about how different that conversation would have ban. If she was still dealing with screaming kids. And her husband called Sony just flipped it completely and so it as Stephanie said. It made that marriage stronger that night for sure. He felt like he was doing something to help current support her and when your way you don't often get that opportunity or Fiona way. And she felt like he was helping her that's great it's great way to stay connected it's it's so simple what we do it is really simple it's not rocket science. But it has a profound effect on my family's. And it Allan SuSE a stress reducer as well because there's this is not a an easy thing for you. Now now it's night it's challenging and you know over we're happy to do our part. But it is challenging. And they did it adds absolutely as stress reducer and we'll see if there's any way to make it five and I don't know I'd ever college appointment fine bag you know like these my kids are now. And you know they have. Reading goals Edith that they've sat with their dad have and chapter books and things that we're gonna tackle in it throughout this time apart so. You know were able to look at the bright side and it increases their interest in reading Ellison to. So we do surveys with all of our families who participate and we have a very high percentage of families who come backers say that children are definitely more interest in books and reading. Then they were before. The I deployment in the UC UTR. We get statistics back saying that the stress and anxiety level and the children is reduced and there's a notable. Difference in the anxiety. Because they use the united through reading program. What's the difference between. What you're doing with united through reading and in Skyping or or doing facetime. Well you know people ask me ally and and they say why he sky AP guide he now he now you've got on this and I said but what happens when you down. Because it's not guaranteed. There are times that you know four or whatever. Security reasons there under we may not hear from them for a month or longer. No phone calls Nelly now nothing and that's just the way it is so that can be taken away in the second it's not something that you can rely on. As far as keeping up a connection and the other thing is sometimes the phone calls that you would receive would have a very long delayed. And based on the nature of you know the location in Iraq at the circumstances of the line so. You know it at 102 delay on a phone calls pretty annoying for adults. For a five year olds yeah it's it's pretty much like why bother. This famous guy you know affair of the connections not candidate. And it's just not happening and everything to his maybe even if it is gad if you ever had a conversation from afar with a variant tiles. Often times this Chinese veto pin them down to Todd. Any human they do talk it's not meaningful conversation and you know I tied him I'd fine. What did you do today nothing yeah I mean we thought we saw how it so you know I said ten times you know I would tell my husband. You know he he wouldn't understand at the time they said just the sky it's really got it it's more stressed that its war. By and because seems like they're really the best way to go because they're right there yeah in the home whenever you want them yep exactly. It's like having them right there with you and it's and it's it's some. That I can count on I mean have to have a great interaction and and acting as the kids will calm down. And they can have that one on one and there's no pressure to perform on a phone call or anything it's just about. Mom or dad that's it. Now we have just a few more minutes left you just had recently had a fund raiser we get the story but I'll tell us about that. It's a great event this is our eight here is held at the Coronado Mary act and this year. We we sold out first time we've ever been sold out. The room with half full of a military personnel and their spouses we had beneficiaries there the military personnel brought some of their children to talk about it. What it meant to them stood up on the stage and said this is what it means. A Stephanie her family have done that in the past. We had. People who want to support the military would dare to learn about united through reading into learn. What the good work that we're doing with the beneficiaries. We raised over 250000. Dollars which is the most we've ever raised. And because we're nonprofit. We get 100% of our funding is from individuals foundations and corporations we don't get any government funding nothing from a military. We don't ask for it I'm not saying we've been denied. But we don't ask where we think it's our job as a nonprofit. To support military families in this place so it was a fantastic event and he should come next year. I will try I was I was hoping to go this year but when it happens to Idaho. I haven't I guess that the story of a bar is a great event and you do have it every year we do yes every year in November very close to veterans say all right so. What are what is your on your website. I uniting through REIT dot org. And are you social media we are FaceBook Twitter now the the books that you that you provide a those donated to you. That's a great question as well we have a wonderful relationship with another nonprofit called first book. First book is located in Washington DC. And in their goal is to get books into their hands. Of children who are may be under privileged. Who may have challenges like military family children do when he moved from school to school and their parents are gone Alec time. Soon they provide books to organizations that support children who are in need in these different ways we've been deemed. An organization that they want to support because of our military family challenges. We can get a book from him that he could go to a local bookstore and paid twelve dollars for. We get it from them for about 75%. Less than twelve dollars so if you donate ten dollars twelve dollars a night you're reading. We can probably get three books for that. If you go to the bookstore and buy the books and then given to as you get one block from that and dollar amount so really stretches our dollars to be able to use first book in that way. And also we can identify the books we want we're very cautious and very careful about the selection of books we lack classics. We want books that are meaningful to all families. We want books to speak Spanish you know who hit who are written in Spanish so we're very careful and that way we can we can sort of overseas that. Now if somebody wants to help you with your your mission they can then make a donation at your website they certainly can we learn most honored by all the folks who do that in. I'll tell you what five dollars is five dollars. Any any person helps whether it's five dollars or 500 dollars we are most appreciative and grateful and Ian website www. United through reading dot org. Sally and Stephanie thank you so much for being announced Saturday. Stephanie thanks for sharing your story thanks for Canada thanks to your husband for his service and you and your children for your sacrifice. It's out for all you do that united through reading thank you very much that concludes another addition now living veteran San Diego the opinions expressed on living veteran San Diego do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the staff and management of the and it comes San Diego radio stations. Episodes of living veteran San Diego are available on the station's website. John next week when my guests will be from the braille institute San Diego until then I'm very late have a great week.