Connecting military parents and children, one story at a time

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

(StatePoint) For deployed service members who are also parents, being away from their kids is often the hardest part of the job.

This is why the United Service Organizations (USO) has prioritized connecting military parents with their families. One way to bring service members a reminder of home is through USO entertainment tours, the most famous tour veteran, of course, being legendary comedian Bob Hope. Hope’s legacy of service lives on today through the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program.

Bringing story time on-demand around the globe, the program connected more than 39,000 military families around the world through reading in 2019 alone. Service members visit participating USO locations, record themselves reading their child’s favorite story and the USO ships that recording and book home to loved ones.

Likewise, military kids can record themselves reading a book and share the story time memories with their parents serving overseas. Additionally, local USO reading events encourage kids to use their creativity and complete a craft that complements a story’s theme.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many locations had to temporarily shut their doors, this did not deter USO volunteers and staff from finding innovative ways to continue their efforts safely. USO Erbil in Iraq put their ingenuity to work and outfitted the back of a pickup truck with a makeshift trifold to serve as a reading “room.”

They then decorated the inside of the room and packed up a box of books, some props and a chair. The USO team drove the truck all around base, stopping outside popular locations as well as remote areas to reach as many service members as possible with their new, unofficial “Bob Hope on the Road” reading room.

To learn about how you can help connect military families through reading, visit uso.org/programs.

Parents universally know the draw of reading “one more book” to a pleading little one at bedtime. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program gives that opportunity back to deployed parents.