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Military spouse cherishes voice from beyond

USO’s United through Reading video, last image of Servicemember

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Kimberly Newlove didn't think anything of the military van parked on the street where she lived, she didn't think anything of it when officers rang her doorbell, she didn't think anything of it when they asked to come in... until the chaplain walked in. Her husband and high school sweetheart, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jarod Newlove, was missing in action.

Just hours prior that same day, Kimberly received a DVD in the mail from the United Service Organizations (USO) -  Newlove has taped videos for his children utilizing USO's United through Reading Program. It was 2010, and he was on his way back to Afghanistan (from block leave) when he stopped by Kuwait's USO to tape a reading of Bark George Bark, for his daughter Addison, 3, and I Love Daddy, for his son, Jordon, 11-months-old.

Days later, Newlove was captured by insurgents in Logar Province, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was ambushed. It was his first overseas deployment.

"He told Addison to be a good girl and to help me with her little brother, and they did their special kiss," said Kimberly, as she sat in the newly renovated USO facility at McChord Field on Nov. 8-the day it opened. "Then he told me he loved me and turned the video off. It's bittersweet and so emotional to be sitting here in this room now. It breaks my heart every time I watch the video. But if it wasn't for the USO, the kids and I wouldn't have this lasting image of him."

Seattle natives, the Newlove's were Seahawks fans and had lived in the region most of their lives. Kimberly still wears his fuzzy Seahawks jersey (which helped her cope), and Addison still has memories of daddy taking her shopping for her very first Nike shoes-a purple and pink rendition, but all Jordon truly has at three-years-old, is the image of his father reading to him on that DVD.

"He hated reading too, and only did it for the kids," she said. "Military families are so lucky to have this service through the USO. If it wasn't here, Servicemembers wouldn't have the connections to home while over there. It's a big thing to connect with kids, family and friends while deployed. This is a great thing and I am grateful for it."

With the launch of the new USO center at JBLM (renamed The Shali Center), the USO of Puget Sound expanded its reach to cover military bases and families throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, and is now known as USO Northwest (USONW). The United through Reading program has a dedicated room on JBLM for deploying Servicemembers - a service that's also available at many USO centers; the cost of equipment, books, packaging, and mailing is free for military.

"If you have a USO center close by, use it," Kimberly said. "They offer things other places can't, and I'm glad they have this program."

For more information, please visit the new USO's website at

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