Navy Family utilizes UTR for a decade of deployments

October 13, 2022

Happy 247th Birthday to the United States Navy! Let’s celebrate their big day by getting to know the Ions; they are United Through Reading users and a proud Navy family! “We love the Navy,” explains Ari Ion.

Her husband, LCPO Jeremy Ion, is assigned to the USS Roosevelt. He geobatches (when a military family decides to live apart, leaving the spouse and family in one location and the service member in another) in Rota, Spain, and is currently on deployment. He is separated from his wife and their two children, nine-year-old Vaughn and seven-year-old Vela, who live in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Ari says, “we miss him so much but are also really proud of him and the work he’s doing.” LCPO Ion is a gunner’s mate, highly trained in operations and maintenance of weapons systems.

LCPO Ion consistently connects with his children through reading, thanks to our programs. “He is a huge reader, and our children take after him,” explains Ari.

The Ion family began using United Through Reading in 2014 when Vaughn was a baby, and LCPO Ion was on his first deployment. Fast forward almost a decade, and now they are reading the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Ari says, “she and her dad are both super smart Slitherens!”

As for Vela, she enjoys candid Facetime conversations with her dad while he’s living in Rota. However, busy school and work schedules and the time change made scheduling challenging. And the deployment has made those interactions impossible.

Ari says, “But since that’s not an option now, United Through Reading is an amazing resource for us.” Vela prefers to read about animals with her dad, especially cats!

The time spent learning about cats and all things Harry Potter is building strong bonds between the girls and their dad – which in turn, gives Ari peace of mind. She says, “having two big readers in the family is a great way to stay connected and have a shared experience despite hectic schedules and time zone differences.”

The separation will also make this year’s Navy Birthday look pretty different. Ari says, “we are definitely bummed to be missing khaki ball celebrations again this year, which is usually how we celebrate the Navy’s birthday.” Instead, they’ll toast cupcakes from their kitchen table without their loved one.

United Through Reading has embedded story stations on several Navy ships worldwide. Learn more today https://unitedthroughreading.org/how-it-works/where-we-are/.

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