Connecting an estimated 33,000 military families around the world, the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program bridges the gap so many military families face during deployments.
“When a service member, stationed in the deserts of Kuwait, misses the birth of his child, the USO is there to provide that powerful connection back home,” Benjamin Griffin, center operations and programs manager at USO Fort Hood, explained. “Through the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, that service member can read his newborn daughter a bed-time story from halfway around the globe.”
The program began on Dec. 12, 2017, when Linda Hope, daughter of the actor and comedian who entertained the troops for decades, announced a partnership with the United Service Organizations to create the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program for military families, in memory of her father.
“For more than six decades – from World War II, through Vietnam, to the Gulf War – Bob Hope traveled the world, visiting remote outposts and isolated battleships, to put on USO Shows,” Griffin added. “His passion for helping keep troops and families connected from halfway around the globe lives on today.”
The program provides service members the opportunity to connect with their families via a virtual story time. The service member chooses a book of his or her choice, is recorded reading the book to his or her child and then the USO ships the video of their story time to their family at no cost to the service member. Griffin said, in many cases, parents choose books that have significance to them, which can stir up a lot of emotions. A box of tissues is kept in the room during the reading if the parent needs to use some.
Books range from all reading levels, so a parent can read to a baby, early reader and advanced readers in chapter books. After the family receives the video from their service member, they can record a video of their own for their deployed parent.
“Those moments will have a lasting impact on the lives of their children and it is our absolute pleasure at USO Fort Hood to be part of this program.”
Due to COVID-19 protocol, service members or families must request an appointment to record a video. Appointments allow for social distancing and extra cleaning between readings.
There are also story times recorded weekly by volunteers or special guests and broadcast
on social media. The video is posted on the USO Fort Hood Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USOFortHood, at 10 a.m., every Wednesday.