2018 Tribute to Military Families: We listened, honored and celebrated

July 12, 2018

Twenty-nine years, over 2 million military family members served and United Through Reading still has work to do. As long as our Nation’s military is deployed and separated from their families, we will do what we can to help them stay connected. Ongoing, consistent support from sponsors like BAE Systems and an expanding network of partners, advocates and volunteers amplifies our impact for military families around the world—for this we are truly grateful.

Our 2018 Tribute to Military Families was a wonderful evening that paid tribute to those who make it a priority to support the families of those who serve our nation. MSgt Kevin Bennear USMC from The President’s Own United States Marine Band set the tone, most literally, with his majestically beautiful rendition of our National Anthem.

We listened to inspiring and emotional United Through Reading (UTR) stories from SGT Lori Fury USA, a behavioral health specialist in Iraq; Hannah Simmons, a mom-to-be whose husband will miss the birth of their child due to his deployment; SSG Bryan Purcell USA and Mandy Purcell; Maj Jonathan Wagner USMC and Jacquelyn Wagner. General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff introduced the keynote speaker, Lauren Colt. A brilliantly confident and talented 15- year-old UTR beneficiary, she commanded the audience with the presence of a pro as she shared her family’s UTR story and her Dad’s awesome UTR video-recording of The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.

We honored those who serve and support our military families. Army Reservist and Congressman Brad Wenstrup (OH- 2), the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy and the Reader’s Digest Foundation were recognized with awards for their shared passion and dedication to military families.

We celebrated the power of the simple act of parents reading with their children whether they are serving in Iraq, Djibouti, or at the polar ice cap. UTR exists because there is a real need in our military communities for a reliable connection within families during deployments and separations. The impact of a UTR connection on a family’s wellness and resiliency was a common thread in all of the stories shared by our families and honorees.

Your support—past, present and future—guarantees this impact will continue. As Lauren Colt said, while we can’t make up for all the bedtime stories that are missed due to deployment and separation – we can make up for many of them and bring Dad or Mom home “on demand”.

Click here for pictures.