The Bayonet

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Georgia’s First Lady makes stop on post

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Georgia’s First Lady, Sandra Deal, visited Fort Benning Wednesday in celebration of Georgia Children’s Cabinet Month of the Military.

Deal, wife of Gov. Nathan Deal, greeted the staff of Martin Army Community Hospital, visited the Reach Out and Read program and read to children in support of the national nonprofit’s pediatrics-based early literacy intervention.

Deal serves as the co-chair of the Georgia Children’s Cabinet. A former teacher, she said reading was the most comforting and educational way to build relationships between parents and their children.

“It’s wonderful that the pediatricians and the Fort Benning medical center are partnering with Read Out and Read to try to stimulate interest in teaching our children how to read at an early age, encouraging parents to select books and let the children learn about reading by reading with them,” Deal said.

According to a release, Reach Out and Read will receive a $25,000 challenge grant from the Georgia Children’s Cabinet through their partnership with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning to promote giving by foundations, corporations and the public.

The Governor’s Office for Children and Families Reach Out and Read Georgia has received funding for the past two years to support military early intervention school readiness program on military installations across Georgia.

“Having them provide this leg up to our Soldiers and their Families is tremendous and purports perfectly with our physicians and their goals as they help our children to succeed mentally and physically,” said Col. Scott Avery, commander of MEDDAC.

Amy Erickson, Reach Out and Read’s executive director, said the program serves more than 63,000 children in Georgia via 59 clinical locations and military installations, including Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, Fort Gordon and Robins Air Force Base. The program will be able to provide more than 12,000 books to military children in Georgia through the partnerships with a network of military doctors.

Reach Out and Read supports and strengthens military Families with young children by helping parents understand developmental stages, build routines, which reassures children and develop coping skills essential to families tested by multiple deployments, separations and reintegration.

“We thank those who serve our country, but we also appreciate the Families because we know how much goes into helping support the person who is serving,” Deal said.

“We are grateful for the military for sharing in this to help our children learn to read.” For more information on Reach Out and Read, visit

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