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Troops Reach Home Through USO's Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program
by U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez
December 9, 2019

A parent reading a book to a child is one of the oldest American household traditions. It is a memorable, bonding experience, for both parent and child, which leaves lasting effects for a lifetime. For those answering the call of duty in foreign lands, this tradition continues.

The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, hosted by the United Services Organization (USO), is the link that makes it all possible. Service members currently deployed with Task Force Southwest in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of the NATO Resolute Support Mission, were recently able to use the program during a scheduled USO visit.

The program allows service members deployed abroad to pick a book, read it on camera, then send both the recording and book to their child. Those who used it were impressed.

October 16, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Lance T. Matsumoto, a maintenance management officer, reads a book for his child during a Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program event hosted by the United Services Organization (USO) Afghanistan while deployed with Task Force Southwest in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (U.S Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)
October 16, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Lance T. Matsumoto, a maintenance management officer, reads a book for his child during a Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program event hosted by the United Services Organization (USO) Afghanistan while deployed with Task Force Southwest in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (U.S Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)

“I think this program is great in what it does for the families,” said Chief Warrant Officer Lance T. Matsumoto, a maintenance management officer with the task force. “The families, specifically the children, can connect with parents deployed all over the world.”

According to the USO official website, the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program was created through a partnership between The Bob Hope Legacy and the USO. From World War II through Vietnam to the Gulf War – Bob Hope traveled the world, visiting remote outposts and isolated battleships to provide entertainment and support our nation’s service members and their families.

Today, the USO mission continues providing the same services for troops abroad and their families. Those serving in austere environments around the world can still contribute to parenting at home through the reading program.

“My son is one and half and we’re always trying to instill good traits in him like always telling the truth and being accountable for your actions,” explained Capt. Nathaniel T. Lemons, a deputy staff judge advocate with the task force. “The book I chose to read demonstrates in a sort of fun way that lying never pays off and it just gets other people in trouble, and it ends in a bigger predicament for you.”

October 17, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Nathaniel T. Lemons, a deputy staff judge advocate, sorts through children’s books for his child during a Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program event hosted by the United Services Organization (USO) Afghanistan at while deployed with Task Force Southwest in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)
October 17, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Nathaniel T. Lemons, a deputy staff judge advocate, sorts through children’s books for his child during a Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program event hosted by the United Services Organization (USO) Afghanistan at while deployed with Task Force Southwest in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)

The reading program has proven popular even with some bases being outfitted with Wi-Fi or internet connectivity available for the troops. It’s not only about staying connected, but the recording and book are also provided for the family to be used whenever.

“You’re giving them a gift not only in the book but a gift of time as a parent as well,” said Lemons. “It’s there permanently for them. When my kid repeatedly says ‘dadda read book’, my wife plays the video of me reading while they flip through the pages together. It’s an amazing program and I recommend it.”

Resolute Support is the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan committed to assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces’ development of sustainable systems necessary for Afghanistan to become more secure, safe, and stable.

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