PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment may be more than 7,000 miles from their children, but that hasn’t stopped the Iron Rakkasans from reading the kids to sleep at night.
The 3-187 has utilized the United Through Reading, a program that allows Soldiers to read books to their children on DVD.
Battalion chaplain, U.S. Army Capt. Erik Alfsen, said the program is “designed to help ease the fear, uncertainty and anxiety felt by children whose parent or loved one is deployed by providing them with opportunities for emotional connections and relieving the stress of separation.
Alfsen regularly travels Western Paktika, circulating through his unit’s area of operations with a camera, children’s books and blank DVDs, helping Soldiers read books to their families.
“United Through Reading enables Soldiers to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD,” Alfsen said. “Soldiers can also read to younger siblings, nieces, nephews, and other extended family members as well as to other children whom they mentor.”
While in past deployments, Alfsen said, Soldiers have been able to write letters, e-mail and send audio cassettes, United Through Reading offers children a chance to see their parent’s face, listen to their voice and read along as their parent reads them a children’s story. It also allows them to spend as much time with the deployed parent as they wish by watching the DVD over and over again.
“The stress of deployments isn’t limited to the Soldier of our battalion. It affects children as well,” said Lt. Col. David Fivecoat. “We’re working to minimize the strain of separation and increase bonding through the positive experience that reading stories aloud provides.”
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