USS JASON DUNHAM, At Sea -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) kicked off its contribution to the United Through Reading (UTR) program during the ship's maiden deployment, July 31.
UTR was founded in 1989, allowing deployed Sailors to record themselves reading books to their children and mail home a DVD for them to watch.
The goal of the program is to boost family morale back home from their deployed Sailors.
"I first found out about UTR from a neighbor of mine who participated during his deployment, and it made me want to help get something like that started aboard Jason Dunham," said Fire Controlman 1st Class Jason Jacobs, UTR program coordinator. "It's a really nice break for our Sailors to take 10-20 minutes out of their day to read a book to their children and also keeps the parents' voices and faces in the thoughts and memories of young children, which can make a world of difference in reconnecting with the child when that parent gets home."
UTR is an important way for deployed parents to keep in touch with their children.
"On my first deployment, we had a UTR program and I was able to record myself reading to my youngest son, and it was such a big help and such a comfort to him," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Georgina Cintron. "Even though my son is older now, we still use the DVDs I recorded on that deployment for my daughter, and it is just great to let your children know that even though mom or dad is away working, they still love you and are still thinking of you."
Sailors who have participated in the program before were very excited to find out that Jason Dunham would be hosting UTR during this deployment.
"As soon as they announced where the sign-up sheet was posted, I raced up there to put my name on the list," said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Scott Bohannon. "I think this is one of the best programs in the Navy, and I was beyond excited to be able to read books for my son and daughter."
Jason Dunham is on a scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.