Deployed Dad: The Bob Hope Foundation and USO

Deployed Dad

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. As it turns out, some of these deployed locations have less than stellar internet connections, so I have a lot to catch up on and moving forward, I will do my best to try and write whenever I have a reliable connection.

For the past month or so, I’ve been traveling around to various locations in the country I’m deployed to in order to take pictures, and tell the stories of the brave men and women out here trying to make a difference in the world. Before I departed for my “final” destination, I had the opportunity to tell a different kind of story.

I discovered that the USO at my staging location had a Bob Hope Foundation reading room. This program is really an amazing opportunity for deployed service members who have young children at home. How it works is simple: The Foundation donates books to USO locations around the world, a service member chooses a book he or she thinks his child would like then records him or herself reading the book. The USO then mails the recording and the book home so the child can read the book and listen to his daddy or mommy read it to him.

It’s such a simple idea, but one that makes a profound impact on both the child and the service member. What’s really awesome is that this isn’t a one-and-done opportunity. The service member can read and send one book a day for as long as he or she would like, all for no charge!

The book I chose was Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. It’s about a young boy who finds a sad penguin outside his house and goes on an adventure to discover where the penguin came from. However, only once he learns that it comes from the South Pole, and returns him there, does the boy realize that the penguin was just lonely and wanted a friend.

It was a cute little book and an easy follow along for young children. I couldn’t wait for it to get home and hear about what his reaction was. It took a few weeks – mail isn’t the fastest thing around here – but when it did, my wife sent me an adorable picture of my son holding the package and grinning from ear-to-ear.

Granted, I know he was only really excited about getting the package, and less about what was on the inside. One time, while I was video chatting with the family, I told him that I put a package in the mail for him and he got so excited he ran to the door wanting to check the mail.

From what I understand, my son enjoyed the book. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties getting the video to play, but my wife was clever enough to find a work around and get it working a few days later.

I would’ve loved to have sent more books home, hopefully I’ll get another chance or two before this deployment is over. I hope other service members with children take advantage of this wonderful program, it really helps you connect with home in a way which phone calls and video chats can’t.

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