Humana Military partners with Reach Out and Read to help ensure military children reap the program’s life-long benefits

In April, the Month of the Military Child, Americans across the country unite to celebrate the service and sacrifices military children make. According to the Department of Defense, more than 1.6 million military children face challenges and unique experiences due to their parents’ service, including long periods of separation or seeing their parents come home physically or mentally hurt. Military families move 2.4 times more frequently than their civilian counterparts. This means military children may experience a move every two to four years plus switch schools up to nine times by the time they’re 18 — leaving behind friends, teachers, and support systems.

Introduced over a decade ago, Reach Out and Read’s Operation Rx for Success for Military Children and Families was designed to help families with these challenges by providing new books and advice from clinicians that specifically addresses their unique lives. During well-child visits at military clinics, clinicians might share books like “The Kissing Hand” or “The Fathers are Coming Home” to help children cope with separation and reunions. These clinicians also emphasize the importance of parents and children reading together daily. Shared reading is a proven technique to help children cope during stressful times or tragedy, making Reach Out and Read a simple, useful technique for military families.

Humana Military has partnered with Reach Out and Read to help ensure that military children receive our intervention during their routine well-child visits. In 2023, their $15,000 donation helped to support Reach Out and Read at three military clinics: Joel Pediatrics Center of Excellence, Ft. Liberty, N.C.; Navel Medical Center, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and USAF Langley Hospital, Hampton Roads, Va.

Humana Military’s donation enabled military children to receive the Reach Out and Read model at 1,500 well-child visits across these three military clinics. Along with a new book, medical providers talked to caregivers about the importance of reading daily with their young children, modeled how to read books aloud with their young children, and encouraged parents to cuddle up and read to their child every day.

Using those 1,500 new books, military parents are helping their children develop early literacy skills, build a love of reading, and strengthen the positive relationships critical to healthy child development. The consistent presence of Reach Out and Read as families move from installation to installation gives both children and parents familiarity, comfort, and routine, all important for building resilience.

Reading stories aloud provides children with a sense of order, normalcy, and togetherness during times of chaos or stress, especially during deployments. Providers at USAF Langley Hospital shared, “Our Reach Our and Read program is very well loved by our patients, parents and providers. Children are always excited about coming in to get new books. It really makes a difference in helping families promote early literacy and a love for reading but also to help the children have another outlet to deal with the stresses related to deployments, prolonged parent/caregiver absences and frequent moves that are common in the military.”

In 2024, Humana is donating another $10,000 to support Reach Out and Read at three military clinics in Virgina: USAF Langley Hospital, McDonald Army Health Center, and Oceana Primary Care Clinic. The $10,000 gift will allow us to deepen program support, increase book distribution, and deliver a high-quality intervention at these sites, maximizing outcomes for our military children and their families.

We are honored to support military children during the Month of the Military Child — and every day.