St. George native connects with his children while aboard USS America

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jason Sandall, a native of St. George, assigned to the USS America, records himself reading a book to his children in the ship’s library as part of the United Through Reading program in this undated photo. | U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Vance Hand, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Despite patrolling seas a half a world away, a St. George man still makes sure his children can hear and watch him read them a bedtime story.

Jason Sandall is aboard the USS America, an amphibious assault ship deployed to the Arabian Gulf, according to the Navy Office of Community Outreach. It is more commonly known as the Persian Gulf. Sandall is an electronics technician 2nd class assigned to the command, control, computers, communication, combat systems and intelligence department aboard the vessel.

The United Through Reading program, managed by the religious ministries department, enables Sandall to connect with his family through video recording services while on deployment. He records himself reading his children a book from the ship’s library.

The USS America is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region, according to the Navy.

United Through Reading offers military service members who are away from home the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to the children in their lives, creating positive emotional connections and a love of reading. The child at home watches the video and follows along with the book. While the child watches, the caregiver at home captures the child’s reaction and relates it back to the service member, United Through Reading says on its website.

“For deployed military families, the mission of United Through Reading is crucial,” the program’s CEO Sally Ann Zoll said. “The ability to maintain a sense of family unity while they are separated is paramount to their succeeding and thriving. UTR builds resiliency and strength in military families.”

The program is available to all military branches and units including the Coast Guard and all Reserve components, according to the website. It is also hosted at select USO sites and has served more than 2 million beneficiaries since 1989.

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