As Military Team Lead for the Program Managers within United Through Reading Gerilyn brings great experience to our table. She manages the Navy programs of the West Coast and also acts as liaison for all the remotely located program managers.
News Chief: Gerilyn, it is a pleasure to introduce you to our readers. Tell us a bit about your experience with the military.
Gerilyn: After serving on active duty I married a Sailor and his first ship was PCU Decatur (pre commissioning unit). Being a brand new ship, I had the opportunity to don my volunteer hat and assist with establishing the command’s FSG (family support group). In my volunteer role I served as the Command Ombudsman for the USS Princeton for 2.5 years. During that stint I learned about the United Through Reading Military Program at a command pre deployment brief. I was so excited about this program I volunteered again, to support the ships program as the United Through Reading Home Front Coordinator (HFC). My time as the HFC allowed me to get to know the Program Manager at that time and I really enjoyed working with the organization.
NC: What about that experience reinforced wanting to participate?
Gerilyn: Everything! At that time our twin boys were about 5 and they had already been through 3 deployments. It was really awesome to hear that there was one more means by which they could stay connected and that it was personalized, just for them, not an email coming thru me, but something Daddy was doing FOR THEM. They were about to begin kindergarten, didn’t know anyone, and having that extra support from their dad was huge.
NC: What is the most important part of your role now, as Military Team Lead?
Gerilyn: It depends on the minute! As the program continues to grow, we have hired remote team members, so I assist in bridging the communication gap between these physical distances; a liaison between those who work remotely and staff in our headquarters in San Diego. With members of our team spread out amongst all the service branches and physically located from coast to coast, in 4 time zones, meetings can be a challenge. To further assist with this effort I’m part of our technology committee. We are exploring resources to enhance how we handle internal and external communications with everything from meetings to training of our coordinators, to future models of our program. We have been experimenting with Web Ex and other ways to share information.
NC: Is there a highlight you could share with us from your job so far?
Gerilyn: There are so many…but one of the big ones is the first time I got to go on the USS Carl Vinson. I had been on a carrier before but not to the extent of receiving such great hospitality from their crew- as it related to United Through Reading. My job was to train the designated volunteers but my day started by having an introduction to one of the chiefs who runs the flight deck. He gave me a tour and I saw all the knobs and gadgets; even miniature magnetic airplanes color coded to organize how the hangar bay works. It was great learning about how the air squadrons maneuver. After my coordinator training was completed, a full tour of the ship followed including being invited to lunch in the Chief’s Mess. It was awesome. I was fortunate to sit with the Command Master Chief as well as with RPC Enya George (who is still running our program!) They were so gracious to show me how it all worked, what they would be dealing with while deployed and really letting me understand how United Through Reading would be a part of their life while away.
NC: What is one thing would you like to communicate to our readers?
Gerilyn: It is increasingly important to support our military and their families and I feel that United Through Reading plays a huge role in that. Our program has been supporting the military for over 20 years now, but we are still new to some branches of our service. If I could communicate one thing to our readers I would ask them to start spreading the word; and one great way to do that is by word of mouth. If I tell a friend who then tells a different friend, and that friend tells yet another friend, the message can spread very quickly. There is nothing as good or fast as word of mouth.
As personal beneficiary of this program I have seen the impact it can have on children. My children smiled from ear to ear the first time they watched the video from their father. It is my wish that their smiles spread to as many military children as possible because of their families participation in United Through Reading. One little smile is why I enjoy my job so much!
NC: Thanks Gerilyn and to all our readers, in advance, for spreading the word. If you would like information on setting up a program for your command please comment here and we will introduce you to the manager for your branch of service.