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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
Reading program unites deployed servicemembers to families back home

By Cpl. John Robbart III | | September 23, 2012


During their Western Pacific deployment, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is participating in a program that links its Marines and sailors to their loved ones back home.


The United Through Reading program helps connect servicemembers to their family members by providing them the opportunity to record themselves reading a book to their loved ones. The recordings can be up to 30 minutes long. If the servicemembers brought the book with them, they can mail the book with the recording back home. If they didn’t bring books, they can borrow one from the unit.


The program makes the kids seeing their parent’s face possible through three easy steps: record the reading, personalize the video, and send the final product home.


“As a father, I know first-hand how hard it can be to be away from your children on a deployment,” said Sgt. Nicholas M. Ortiz, program non-commissioned officer-in-charge and legal chief, 15th MEU. “I am encouraging all Marines with children or younger siblings to take full advantage of what this program has to offer,” added the 23-year-old native of Houston.


Ortiz began his involvement in the program through the unit’s Religious Ministry Team.


“United Through Reading is for children back home that may not understand the dynamics of their parents being away,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Edward S. Debaun, UTR project manager and religious program specialist, 15th MEU. “It’s important for the children to see their parents so they don’t feel abandoned,” added the 34-year-old native of Copperopolis, Calif.


Servicemembers can expect their recordings to take approximately three weeks to get home to their families. However time may vary based upon operational requirements and the ship’s location, said Debaun.


“I have two children,” said Staff Sgt. David T. Griffith, staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the administrative reachback cell, 15th MEU.


Griffith likes that the program allows his children to see him while he is away from home.


15th MEU personnel and family members can find more information about reading to a loved one by contacting Ortiz at Nicholas.ortiz@peleliu.usmc.mil.