USS BATAAN --
The United Through Reading program allows 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines and sailors serving in the Mediterranean Sea to connect with the children in their lives while deployed.
Specifically, the UTR military program allows servicemembers to create personal videos of them reading books for little ones to treasure at home.
Lieutenant Commander Teddy Williams, the 22nd MEU command chaplain, said UTR builds morale and makes certain, “Marines and sailors with the 22nd MEU stay connected with families back home.”
Volunteers donate books, DVDs and video cameras to the non-profit organization, and UTR compiles kits for commands like the 22nd MEU to use while deployed, Williams said.
United Through Reading also provides training and support to program administrators.
“After some training, they provide us with the resources we need,” Williams added.
The 22nd MEU chaplain’s office coordinates convenient times for Marines and sailors to record messages, and provides discs and packaging to send the final products to loved ones at home. Participants simply purchase postage and mail the packages home.
The program isn’t limited to military parents with children, Williams emphasized.
For example, he said Marines and sailors could read books to nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers, sisters or family friends.
What I like about this program is it reaches the married and single Marines and sailors, Williams said.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and improve the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission, capable force, commanded by Col. Eric J. Steidl and comprised of an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps’ smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response to a hostile environment or crisis.