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Nellis Spouse Group Donates Children's Books for Deployed Wing's Reading Program

Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

Staff Sgt. Gavin Ramos, services journeyman with the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, is video-recorded while reading a book for his children April 8, 2010, at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia. Ramos was the first Airman at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing to participate in the United Services Organization's United Through Reading program. The program allows for a deployed service member to read a book while being recorded and the book and a DVD is sent home to a child to see and follow along. Ramos is deployed from the 154th Force Support Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and his hometown is Kapolei, Hawaii.

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- 05.13.2010 Dozens of boxed-up children's books appeared at one mail drop for Maj. (Dr.) Kevin Bohnsack of the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group recently. At first notice, the major wondered what it was for but soon enough learned their purpose thanks to a not attached from a representative of the spouses group for the 64th and 65th Aggressor Squadrons at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The children's books were sent as a donation to support the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing's "United Through Reading" Military Program that recently began. On April 8, the 380th AEW began the program which is run through the United Service Organization. According to the program's Web site, www.unitedthroughreading.org/military, the program "helps ease the stress of separation for military families by having deployed parents read children's books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home."

Bohnsack said the book donation came to fruition thanks to his previous participation in the program.

"We initiated this book donation because I had participated in a previous United Through Reading program at a different base," said Major Bohnsack, who is deployed as the chief of aerospace medicine for the 380th EMDG from the 55th Medical Group at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. His hometown areas are

"I sent the DVD home to my family and it nearly surpassed 'Finding Nemo' as my daughter's favorite video. My daughter, Natalie, has now memorized the entire book, 'Where the Wild Things Are' at the age of 3 years."

Bohnsack said they were so impressed with the United Through Reading initiative that they wanted to support the new 380th AEW program.

"We are very excited the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron has stood up this valuable service to deployed families," Major Bohnsack said. "My wife, Tabitha, and my mom, Marcia Bohnsack, donated books initially but Sarah heard about what they were doing so she organized a spouse's book drive at Nellis."

Deployed service members with the 380th AEW participate by going to the 380th EFSS' Learning Resources Center. While there Tech. Sgt. Oswald Steley, LRC manager, assists them in completing the reading program process.

"There have been many programs like this over the years," said Steley, who is deployed from the 60th FSS at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and whose hometown is Metter, Ga. "In this program, the service member is recorded by a DVD recorder while reading the book and the DVD and the book are shipped to this child for free. It's a program that I think helps both the parent and the children communicate."

The program's Web site states that deploying commands normally request United Through Reading Military Program several months before deployment. From there national program managers train volunteers and "provide promotional tools and offer options for getting necessary equipment."

According to the note Major Bohnsack received from Mrs. Sarah Reynolds at Nellis, and with dozens of books as evidence, the spouses group was more than happy to make the donation.

"I think this is a wonderful program and wanted to help out," Mrs. Reynolds wrote in the note. "Enclosed are a few book donations from myself and the Aggressor spouses. We hope these books help make your reading program a success."

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