Support for Military Spouses through Storytime
United Through Reading, a nonprofit organization, connects military families through stories read aloud on video.
When we talk about military families and the challenges they face during deployments we often envision the 3-year-old boy who misses his mom and doesn’t understand why she is gone, or the service member who is missing out on special moments, like birthdays, with the family at home. What we sometimes don’t always consider is the hardship of the at-home caregiver doing it all solo during deployments. The primary caregiver at home bears some tough burdens during deployment as they react to the emotions of military children and provide comfort, strength, and stability while a military parent is away.
Veronica is a Navy wife of more than 15 years. Over the course of her husband Rex’s career, they’ve spent more than four years apart. They have four children who have also endured this time away from their dad. Veronica has taken advantage of several resources for military spouses, but one of her favorites is United Through Reading (UTR), a nonprofit that connects military families through the read-aloud experience by video-recording services members reading books to their families at home and shipping the video and book home to keep them connected.
Veronica says, “Our first UTR video arrived just after Rex had left on a 10-month deployment. As soon as I pressed play and his smiling face popped up on the screen saying hi to the kids, their eyes lit up. They watched that video over and over until it was bedtime. They were so excited to see him and said it felt like he was here reading bedtime stories to them like he always did.”
At first, Veronica thought the video was just for the kids to stay connected to their dad, but she soon realized it was a gift for her as well.
“When my husband is deployed I lose my teammate and support system at home. I am the only one that the kids can come to when they need something and I have to be on all of the time. With the UTR videos, I can pop one in make dinner uninterrupted, or I can use the video for Rex to tell the kids their bedtime stories while I tidy up and do the dishes before tucking them into bed. Sometimes I read a book myself for a rest. Those little 30-minute breaks can really help spouses recharge when they are alone.”