Militarily Speaking Ep. 48 Strengthening Military Family Bonds Through the Power of Storytime with Jessica Hall

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are.

We — with guests like you — will help the military community not only navigate their finances but also military life. We chat about both good and bad financial practices and provide some insight along the way. We’ll share strategies to help people get ahead, discuss military benefits that members should take advantage of, and more – all working towards the goal of helping people become more financially independent.

On the show, we’ll also preview and talk about how to take advantage of military specific services, such as loans and mortgages, and help members prepare for important milestones such as PCS moves and the transition to civilian life. Finally, at the end of every episode, we have a bit of fun with our Military Minute. That guessing-game segment features military history, hobbies, a bit of pop culture. Correct guesses by listeners could result in a donation to charity of individual’s choice.

Welcome to the "Militarily Speaking" podcast with Tom McLean and Jodi Vickery.

In this episode of “Militarily Speaking,” Tom, Jodi, and guest Jessica Hall, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for United Through Reading, discuss how the mission-focused organization is dedicated to strengthening military families and building literacy.

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes the military community who they are.

Ep. 48 – Strengthening Military Family Bonds Through the Power of Storytime with Jessica Hall

 United Through Reading was founded in 1989 with the sole aim of helping military families bond and connect through daily shared reading. This mission is targeted towards strengthening both emotional bonds and literacy skills among military families irrespective of the distance between them. Since its inception, United Through Reading has connected over three million military family members through shared story times.

 The organization holds steadfast to their belief in the power of reading and utilizes an array of programs to keep military families connected. Jessica sizes it all up by saying, “We help military-connected families bond and connect every day through reading together. Our mission is to strengthen military families, literacy, emotional bonds, and well-being through the power of reading together every day, no matter the distance.”


Leveraging Technology and Books

United Through Reading boasts a free app compatible with all mobile device platforms - iOS, Android, and Amazon. Via this app, military families can record, save and share their stories with each other. This initiative supports those who are deployed to keep up their presence and connection with their families back home. As Jessica mentions, “This is mom or dad on demand.”

 The organization also offers an array of resources. From reading trackers to activity calendars, United Through Reading equips military families with the tools needed to instill and maintain a strong reading habit. More importantly, the organization employs a holistic approach in dealing with the needs of each family as no two families are the same.


Partnerships and Awards

United Through Reading appreciates a wealth of support from a myriad of partners. Jessica emphasizes the value of their partnerships, particularly the collaborative relationship with fellow organizations in the military family support space.

 Over the years, United Through Reading has garnered awards that acknowledge their dedication and contribution to service families and literacy improvement. They notably received the Community Service Hero Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the American Prize of the Library of Congress’s Literacy Awards Program.


Jessica’s Military Moves

Jessica’s journey with the military has seen her move across various locations within the United States. Her family began at Fort Huachuca, where she resided twice. Later, her journey led her to Joint Base Lewis-McChord as well as Fort Hood, alternatively known as Fort Cavazos, where she contributed significantly to military spouse communities.

The pathway of duty also took Jessica to the renowned Fort Knox, followed by a transitional phase in Northern California for her husband's graduate studies. The final anchor in her journey, for now, is Fort Meade where she is currently based. She has served in various capacities, riding alongside her husband's service commitment, from spearheading Girl Scout troops to actively participating in Fort Knox's Spouse and Community Club.


Military Minute

Jodi introduces the Military Minute segment of the show, beginning by closing out last episode’s Military Minute.

  • Last episode’s Military Minute: What was the original name of the Purple Heart?
  • Answer: Badge of Military Merit
  • This week’s Military Minute question: Who is the most famous author of children's books with over 300 million copies sold?
  • Watch for Facebook and Instagram posts about this episode.
  • Answer with the correct answer and you plus a charity of your choice can each win $50.
  • After a winning selection, Military Minute participants are eligible for another selection after 12 months.


Tom closes the episode by asking listeners to go to and subscribe to the show, as well as leave a rating and comment on your favorite podcast platform such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

 Join us to hear how to better navigate your finances, military life, and the crossroads of the two.