‘Gimlets’ strengthen bonds with books

| December 16, 2010 | 2 Comments
Capt. Christopher Welsh, intelligence officer, 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, reads a book on camera, Nov. 28, in the battalion’s conference room at FOB Warhorse.

Capt. Christopher Welsh, intelligence officer, 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, reads a book on camera, Nov. 28, in the battalion’s conference room at FOB Warhorse.

Story and Photo by
Spc. Robert Michael England, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

 

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — Several Soldiers sat on couches in a dimly lit tent, speaking softly to one another, each waiting for their turn, here, recently.

Sgt. Jonathan Windsor emerged from a separate room with a book in one hand, a camera in the other and a smile on his face: He had just finished reading Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” to his son.

Windsor, a company intelligence support team noncommissioned officer in charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, “Gimlets,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, had participated in the “Bonding Through Books‚” program, offered here.

Sgt. Jeremy Graham, a fire support sergeant, HHC, 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, and program coordinator, has been the key to the program’s success since he opened it up to Gimlet Soldiers in October.

“Soldiers are away from their families, they’re not able to actually connect with them, and the children back home can’t really see their dads, except for maybe a couple photos over the Internet,” Graham said. “So, we’re giving Soldiers the opportunity to read to their children, and then we send the book and the DVD we record back home to their children.”

Graham said he drew inspiration from a similar program offered by the USO.

“The USO actually has a program like this in Kuwait called “United Through Reading,” but we don’t have a USO here that does it,” he said. “So, we figured we’d do it ourselves.”

The Gimlets’ reading program arrived in time for Soldiers to send videos to their children for the holidays, and Graham said he plans to keep the program running throughout the deployment. He added that many Soldiers are appreciative of the program because it keeps their children familiar with their faces and voices.

Capt. Christopher Welsh, battalion intelligence officer, 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT, read a book for his daughter, who was born just two months ago.

Windsor said he and his son have dealt with separation during a previous deployment, but this program has provided him another way to maintain a connection with his son.

“Well, this is not the first deployment my son and I have had to endure,” Windsor said. “At 2-years-old, he’s doing pretty well with sight recognition, but I wanted to make sure he gets my voice down, too.”

“Bonding Through Books” helps Graham maintain a connection with his own daughter. He noticed a difference in her behavior toward him from his previous deployment, compared to his time at home during this deployment’s morale leave.

“When I came home on a previous deployment, my daughter was shy; she wouldn’t come up to me. She really didn’t know who daddy was,” he said. “When I went home … this deployment, she ran up to me and hugged my legs. I’ve never had her do that before, and I think it’s mostly because of this (program).

“I think there’s more of a connection that would not be there if I wasn’t able to do this, and I want to share that with other people,” he added.

Graham sets aside time each month to bring all needed supplies to the battalion conference room, a quiet place where the Gimlet Soldiers can read the books in peace. He found the books in a closet and borrows the camera from another NCO in the battalion.

 

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

Comments (2)

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  1. Robin says:

    This is a wonderful tool to keep Service Members and their Children connected. Are they getting any support from anyone?

  2. Hawaii Army Weekly says:

    Hi Robin,

    I'm not sure what external organizations are assisting with the Gimlets' Bonding Through Books program, but I have forwarded your comment to the unit.

    Thanks,

    Stephanie Rush
    808-656-3153

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