Lake County veterans share experiences at annual oral history project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Lake County News-Sun posted an article on Nov. 13 about the sixth annual Veterans History Project held at the Lake County Courthouse, Ill. NCRA member Kathy Fennell, RMR, an official court reporter from Matteson, Ill., was on hand to transcribe.

Read more.

What can you do in a month to earn CEUs?

A middle-aged white woman listens attentively during a workshop while taking notes.The Sept. 30 deadline for this year’s CEU cycle is coming up quickly, but there’s still time to earn a few more last-minute credits, both in person and online. Even if your CEU cycle isn’t ending this year, these ideas can help you stay on track and possibly even get that requirement done early.

Attend a webinar or e-seminar

Webinars and e-seminars are a great way to learn some new skills in the comfort of your own home and, in terms of e-seminars, on your own schedule. There are three 90-minute live webinars scheduled for this September:

If none of these webinars fit your schedule, check out the NCRA e-seminar library for 60- and 90-minute sessions on topics that include business, CART and captioning, ethics, grammar and language, history, official reporting, personal development, realtime, technology, and more.

Attend a pre-approved event, including state association conferences

Many state associations and other court reporter–related organizations are hosting conferences and seminars in September. In-person events give you the opportunity to network with other reporters and captioners while earning CEUs. Most events are one to three days, and several of them are in the first half of the month. Events are scheduled in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana/Wyoming/Idaho, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as Alberta, Canada, this month. Check out the full calendar of pre-approved events here, which includes the dates, location (geographic or online), and number of CEUs.

Learn CPR or first aid

The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other organizations often host seminars on CPR or first aid. Perhaps you can organize a few colleagues from your firm, court, or even your local area to team up for an event nearby. Court reporters and captioners have to be prepared for anything, so why not add safety to your list of skills? Learn more about the requirements for earning CEUs by learning CPR or first aid on NCRA.org/WaysToEarn.

Transcribe oral histories

Members who participate in the Oral Histories Program through the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) may earn Professional Development Credits for their time. Members can apply up to 1.0 PDC to their CEU requirement per cycle. Transcribe a 30- to 90-minute pre-recorded interview of an American veteran, Holocaust survivor, or attorney who has provided pro bono services through Legal Aid. Many people find participating in the Oral Histories Program to be especially rewarding. “As court reporters, we sometimes are too focused on the financial side of what we do, but (volunteering) is giving back. Anyone thinking of participating in one of these events should just jump right in and do it. It’s well worth it,” said Kimberly Xavier, RDR, CRR, CRC, CMRS, CRI, an official court reporter from Arlington, Texas, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, who recently volunteered at NCRF’s third Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project initiative at the 86th Military Order of the Purple Heart 2017 Convention held in Dallas. Learn more at NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories.

Get credit for past events

You may have already participated in activities that have helped you earn CEUs or PDCs during the last year, and the only thing you need to do is fill out the proper form to get credit. If you promoted the profession at a career fair, law school, or other event; provided pro bono services; served on a state association board or committee (including the United States Court Reporting Association); or participated in a formal mentoring program, you may qualify for credit for your volunteerism. You can submit these CEUs and PDCs here.

Cycle extensions

If you need a four-month cycle extension (to Jan. 31) to finish those last CEUs, you can fill out the CEU extension request form by Sept. 30. Note that the deadline to complete CEUs or to request an extension is the same date.

View the full list of qualified continuing education activities at NCRA.org/WaysToEarn. View other continuing education forms here or view your current transcript here. If you have any questions, please contact the NCRA credentialing coordinator.

NCRA members reflect on transcribing oral histories from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

An elderly man is in the middle of speaking. He sits in front of a German newspaper projected behind him.

U.S. Dept. of Defense photo by Marvin Lynchard

Nearly 20 years ago, Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, of Quincy, Mass., and her husband visited the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. It was an unforgettable experience.

“There was very little talking amongst all of us tourists as we walked around the camp that day,” Keegan said. “Everybody seemed to keep looking at one another hoping that somebody would speak up and make sense of it all. Nobody did. On the bus ride back to the city, there was no light chatter. People were too overwhelmed.”

Years later, Keegan transcribed the account of one of the American soldiers whose battalion liberated Dachau.

“There were about 17,000 people still [in the camp] when they arrived,” Keegan said. “The horrific things that he relayed about some of the surroundings were what we had seen on our tour. He recounted that the battalion that had moved into the camp before his had been very overcome with emotion. He relayed about the soldiers, ‘They were so upset about what they saw that they actually lined up about 40 or 50 of these Nazi guards and just mowed them down with machine guns.’”

Transcribing this interview was part of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s (NCRF) agreement with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to have NCRA members preserve oral records from the museum’s collections. Since 2014, NCRA members have transcribed parts of more than 100 interviews from the museum’s collection of more than 200,000 records.

Hearing these eyewitnesses’ first-hand accounts puts a different perspective on what is taught in school and from history books.

“The most meaningful part of transcribing these interviews was actually becoming immersed into their life story as they’re describing the events that had happened to them,” said Megan Orris, RPR, an official from Beaver Springs, Pa. “The part of the interview I had to transcribe dealt with what this man endured right before he was liberated and then following his immigration to America and the life he had here. It was very interesting to listen to a real-life story and not something from a history textbook. It gave me a whole new perspective on life and being appreciative that I never had to go through what this man and others had during the Holocaust.”

Transcribing survivors’ accounts is a way to honor the victims, says Karen Shelton, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Fort Worth, Texas.

“I have read the stories of Holocaust survivors for years and have visited Holocaust memorials in several places and have always found them deeply moving.  When the opportunity arose to transcribe the oral histories of survivors, I knew it was something I wanted to participate in.  As much as I have learned from educating myself about the history of that time and the plight of so many victims, I felt that transcribing some of their stories was something tangible I could do to honor their memories and to provide a written record for future generations to read,” Shelton said.

Some reporters who have never transcribed an interview of a Holocaust survivor may be hesitant to do so for emotional reasons.

“I was very anxious when I hit the play button on my first Holocaust interview. Would I be able to contain my emotion and get through whatever story I was going to hear?” Keegan said. “Just like in a deposition, I automatically switched into court reporter mode and listened for the words rather than the content the best that I could.”

Keegan and many other reporters are happy to have participated.

“I cannot fully express the gratitude that I have to be able to be a part of transcribing these stories.  I am humbled by the strength and courage of these men and women who sit and recount their stories so that the rest of us may understand this part of our history. The overwhelming appreciation that I have always had for the men and women of our Armed Forces has been strengthened by these interviews. In just a very tiny way, I feel that I have helped to preserve the stories of all of these people,” Keegan said.

Orris concurs: “Another meaningful part of transcribing these interviews was preserving their story. I think that has a whole new meaning in itself that we as reporters get to transcribe these stories, and they’re saved forever in the archives for people to read years from now. It gives you a special feeling to be able to have done something like this.”

For more information on NCRF’s Oral Histories Program and to get involved, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/OralHistories, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Celebrating the legal profession on Law Day and year-round

gavel and scales

Photo by: DES Daughter

May 1 marks Law Day, a national day celebrating the role of law in our society and cultivating a deeper understanding of the legal profession, according to the American Bar Association (ABA). In 1957, ABA President Charles S. Rhyne imagined an annual celebration of the legal system, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower acknowledged the importance of the role of law in the creation of the United States when he signed a proclamation a year later. In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day. Each year, ABA chapters, attorneys, and judges across the nation host Law Day programs, which “are designed to help people better understand how law protects our liberty and how our legal system strives to achieve justice,” according to Law Day materials from the ABA.

The purpose of the annual Law Day is similar to the everyday mission of the National Equal Justice Library (NEJL) at Georgetown University’s Law Library. Almost 20 years ago, the NEJL was founded jointly by the ABA, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the American Association of Law Libraries. The NEJL was the first, and remains the only, archives dedicated to preserving the history of providing pro bono legal services to those unable to afford counsel. The need for such a collection was prompted after the family of Clara Shortridge Foltz — the first female lawyer in the western states and the person credited with instituting the public defender system in the U.S. — disposed of Foltz’s personal papers without realizing the historic importance of her personal effects.

Court reporters play a crucial role in the legal process both as the guardians of the record and, in their spare time, by preserving important collections from the NEJL as part of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) Oral Histories Program. Most NCRA members are familiar with the Veterans History Project, the most prominent project in NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, but fewer are familiar with NCRF’s partnership with the NEJL.

“NCRF and NCRA’s fantastic professional staff and volunteer reporters have provided the NEJL with immeasurable support to preserve and make accessible the history of legal aid and indigent defense in the United States,” said Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist. “NCRF and NCRA’s superb volunteer reporters have transcribed all 75 interviews from the first series of oral histories and are currently supporting the NEJL with transcribing our latest series of oral history interviews. All of the available transcripts are posted online through our Digital Georgetown repository, and the interviews are frequently featured on NEJL’s blog, Right On.”

Today, the NEJL archives contains 118 interviews with prominent attorneys, judges, and other members of the legal profession about their work in legal services, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who worked as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, and Clinton Bamberger, the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity Legal Services Program. The archives also include a series of interviews with Abe Krash, Bruce Jacob, and Anthony Lewis, key participants and observers of Gideon v. Wainwright, a landmark 1963 ruling that obligated states to provide legal counsel to criminal defendants unable to afford it. In 2013, the NEJL embarked on a new phase of the oral history project, focusing on second-generation leaders of the legal aid movement, such as Dennis Groenenboom, the executive director of Iowa Legal Aid.

“These attorneys have worked tirelessly to create programs such as self-help, low- and no-cost representation, as well as elder law,” said Heidi Darst, RMR, CRR, an official reporter from Rockwall, Texas, who has transcribed multiple interviews from the NEJL collections. “What has been most memorable for me in all of the interviews is the level of dedication these fine lawyers have to providing equal access to legal representation, even if it means taking a job that may not be a guaranteed paycheck starting out or located in good areas to raise their families. Transcribing the NEJL interviews is a great opportunity for busy reporters to give back to the legal community.”

The NEJL still has plenty of collections that need to be transcribed, according to Hering. Transcribing from these collections is a worthy celebration of the legal profession on Law Day and year-round.

“The NEJL is currently seeking transcribers for interviews from our new series of oral history interviews, including eight interviews documenting the history of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, which were conducted in 2016,” said Hering.

The library also gratefully accepts donations of oral histories documenting the legal services work of attorneys, judges, and court reporters, as its small staff of a single interviewer and single archivist limits the number of interviews it can conduct. The NEJL’s Oral History Recording and Donation Guidelines can be found online.

Working reporters earn 0.25 PDC per completed transcript they submit as part of NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, up to 1.0 PDC per education cycle. If you would like more information about the NEJL, please contact April Weiner, NCRF’s Foundation Manager at aweiner@ncra.org, or Katharina Hering, NEJL’s project archivist at kh781@georgetown.edu.

School literacy project teaches children history through the people who lived it

The McDonough Voice, Macomb, Ill., posted an article on Sept 26 about a school literacy project that teaches children history through the people who lived it. The article showcases a recent presentation by World War II veteran Dorothy Anderson, served as a stenographer during the war, and other veterans. The event also celebrated the upcoming release of a children’s book about Anderson’s life.

Read more.

Celebrate National Purple Heart Day in Chicago

Purple Heart Medal pinned to a U.S. Marines uniform

Photo by Expert Infantry

NCRA leaders President-Elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, a freelance reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Vice President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Wausau, Wis., will join other volunteers for a special Veterans History Project (VHP) Day taking place at the Association’s 2016 Convention & Expo, being held Aug. 4-7 at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., in celebration of National Purple Heart Day.

The VHP Day, which will be held Sun., Aug. 7, from 10-11:30 a.m. and 1-2:30 p.m., is being coordinated by NCRA and the National Court Reporters Foundation and will include participation from members of several local chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Heart serving the Chicago area.

“The Veterans History Project is perhaps the most beloved of the Foundation’s programs, and all you need to do is participate in one VHP Day to know why,” said Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, a freelance court reporter from Minneapolis, Minn., and Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

“To become a part of American history by using our skill set to capture, transcribe, and preserve for posterity the stories of the magnanimous men and women who have served our country and kept us safe and free — there’s the great sense of patriotism you experience when honoring and thanking veterans for their service via this wonderful NCRF program, that makes you want to come back and do it again and again,” said Ballman.

The VHP Program is one of several oral history projects supported through the Foundation’s expanded Oral Histories Program. Since 2003, NCRA members, who volunteer their services, have worked with NCRF and the Library of Congress to record and transcribe the moving stories of many U.S. war veterans, building a lasting legacy of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation during wartime.

The VHP Program was expanded in 2007 through the 1,000 Voices Initiative, which took the project to the public asking them to interview any veteran they might know. Many veterans have never made any formal record of their wartime experiences but are willing to sit down and talk with someone who will listen. The VHP Program continues to play an important role in preserving veterans’ stories. To date, NCRA members have transcribed nearly 4,000 veteran interviews for the Library of Congress.

Charged by Congress in 1958, the Military Order of the Purple Heart is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat. Although membership is restricted to the combat-wounded, the organization supports all veterans and their families with a myriad of nationwide programs held by chapters and national service officers. Its mission is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat-wounded veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives, and, most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families.

NCRA and NCRF are expecting about a dozen veterans to participate in the event being held in Chicago and are currently seeking volunteers for interviewers and transcribers. NCRA members interested in volunteering to participate in the event can contact April Weiner, NCRFs Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.

Volunteers raise more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon

NCRF phone-a-thon volunteers

Left to right: Laurie Shingle, Jane Fitzgerald, Bonni Shuttleworth, and Joan McQuinn

Six court reporters from across the country raised more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon between April 27 and May 6. The volunteers made thousands of calls and generated donations from $10 to $995 over the course of two weeks.

The annual phone-a-thon supports NCRF’s programs, including:

  • the Oral Histories Program, which raises public awareness about the court reporting profession by capturing and transcribing the poignant oral histories of American wartime veterans, Holocaust survivors, and attorneys who have provided pro bono services;
  • the Student Initiatives Program, which provides four scholarships to high-achieving students each year and free student memberships to NCRA for those students who transcribe two histories from the Oral Histories Program;
  • the New Professional Reporter Grant, awarded annually to a stand-out emerging court reporter in his or her first year out of school; and
  • the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which educates students and new reporters about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career.
Another NCRF phone-a-thon volunteer

Kathy Cortopassi

“It is my absolute pleasure to be able to give back to NCRF knowing that this is one way for me to pay it forward and help those who are pursuing the path to court reporting,” said Michael Hensley, RPR, a freelance first-year reporter from Evanston, Ill., who contributed to this year’s phone-a-thon. “During my time as a court reporting student, it was such a blessing to receive help with costs of schooling to ease the burden of financial stress. I’m grateful that NCRF provides this opportunity, and I highly encourage every working reporter to pitch in to keep the dream alive for those wishing to join our ranks.”

Volunteers for this year’s effort included Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, Dyer, Ind.; NCRF Trustee Jane Fitzgerald, RMR, Des Moines, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, Rockford, Ill.; former NCRF Trustee Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, Pleasant View, Utah; Bonni Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, Crestwood, Ill.; and NCRA President-elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“Volunteering to help raise awareness and support for the Foundation and its many generous programs is an exciting honor,” said Wood. “Making the calls is a wonderful opportunity to talk with members, learn more about them, and ensure that they know how important their donations are and how appreciative the Foundation is of their willingness to give. I would urge anyone who wants to experience an opportunity to reach out to their fellow members and to experience the meaningfulness of volunteering to support a profession they are passionate about to consider helping with future NCRF fundraising activities.”

“NCRF launched its annual phone-a-thon in the mid-1990s and has relied on using member volunteers to make the calls rather than an outside company because of the high success rate of the peer-to-peer outreach,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director.

“I have participated in the phone-a-thon on several occasions,” said Fitzgerald. “I volunteer because I feel it is important to support your profession through its Association and Foundation — and I enjoy talking with reporters across the country!”

If the volunteers missed you during the phone-a-thon or you’d like to give to NCRF, please call 800-272-6272 to make your 100 percent tax-deductible donation.

NCRA CEO Mike Nelson guest on Comcast Newsmakers

Elena Russo speaks with Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director for the National Court Reporters Association, about court reportingNCRA’s CEO and Executive Director, Mike Nelson, CAE, was interviewed last month for a segment of Comcast Newsmakers, a program that provides news and information from elected officials, public servants, and community leaders to connect viewers to important issues, events, and organizations that impact the community.

Nelson provided host Elena Russo information about NCRA’s members, their role in capturing the official record and providing other services to aid people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and the use of legal videography in the legal arena.

In addition, Nelson discussed the profession’s flexibility, salary potential, and positive employment outlook as well as the Association’s efforts to recruit more students into court reporting programs.

Elena Russo speaks with Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director for the National Court Reporters Association, practice "air steno"After the interview, Russo continued her conversation with Nelson and asked him questions about the court reporting and captioning professions, such as how steno works, the skills needed to ensure success in the field, and more about the nonlegal venues where NCRA members work. Nelson also noted NCRA’s members’ involvement in the National Court Reporter Foundation’s Oral Histories Program and the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

The Comcast Newsmakers segments are hosted on ComcastNewsmakers.com for up to two months, with select interviews appearing on Comcast’s XFINITY On Demand service. The segments can also be viewed via desktop or mobile browser and can be shared through Facebook and Twitter.

View Mike Nelson’s interview here.

NCRA members help “never forget” through NCRF’s Oral Histories Program

This article contains strong language and discusses situations from the Holocaust. Read at your own discretion.

One of the primary themes of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day (sundown May 4 until sundown May 5), is to “never forget” the atrocities of the Holocaust. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exists as the nations’ memorial for Holocaust victims and a testament of its survivors, including through the accumulation and preservation of Holocaust survivors’ stories.

The importance of preserving these stories is underscored on the museum’s website: “Today we face an alarming rise in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism — even in the very lands where the Holocaust happened — as well as genocide and threats of genocide in other parts of the world. This is occurring just as we approach a time when Holocaust survivors and other eyewitnesses will no longer be alive.”

Since 2014, NCRA members have volunteered their time and skills to transcribe these personal accounts through an agreement between NCRF’s Oral Histories Program and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“NCRF’s Oral Histories Program provides a tremendous service to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” says Noemi Szekely-Popescu, program coordinator for the museum. “The transcripts NCRA members produce with skill and precision enable scholars, researchers, and the public to gain increased access to our testimonies by rendering them fully searchable. The finding aids NCRA members have created over the past couple of years are essential to expanding and retaining audience engagement with our testimonies, and we are very grateful to them, and to NCRF, for their support.”

The experiences are equally gratifying to reporters transcribing the histories.

“I’ve been privileged to transcribe three interviews for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” says Mindy Martin, RMR, an official from Albany, Ga. “They all would be meaningful without a connection, but my mother was Jewish, and we lost family in the Holocaust. What is vital about these projects is that we document the experiences of people who survived history-changing events. We should not only be historians but learners with a conscience.”

NCRA members earn 0.25 PDC for each transcript they complete, at no cost to them, up to 1.0 PDC per certification cycle. However, reporters who have participated would agree that the benefits extend well beyond receiving continuing education points.

“Initially, I would surmise, most become involved transcribing for NCRF for the points,” says Andrea Wabeke, RMR, CRR, an official from Ann Arbor, Mich., “but anyone who’s done one soon realizes the hours dedicated outweigh the point payoff — but not the emotional payoff.”

One survivor’s story was particularly poignant for Wabeke. “One passage moved me to tears: ‘I got undressed in front of the sauna before we went in for the shower, I was standing in front of an SS man who was about 6’6”. My eyes fixed into his belt buckle. You can imagine how tall he was. To me it looked that tall, right? This is in front of the sauna. I’ll never forget that as long as I live, and I look in, and what does it say on the belt buckle — you won’t believe this — I don’t know if you ever heard that, Gott mit uns, okay, God is with us, in the middle, and then SS insignia on this side. I swear I looked in there, and for a second I had to hold myself back from laughing. I says, you son of a bitch — I didn’t say that — I said, not the God I learned about. I’m going to do everything in my life to outlive you.’ And he did.”

In addition to being emotionally powerful, transcribing Holocaust survivors’ stories has been an educational experience for many reporters.

“Studying about the Holocaust did not allow me the same education and opportunity for personal growth as listening to the survivors speak of their personal experiences,” says Heidi Darst, RMR, CRR, an official in Rockwall, Texas. “I only wish I had helped transcribe oral histories sooner. I don’t know what difference it will make to those who read them, but it has really touched me. My only wish is that I am able to transcribe the oral histories in such a manner that in some way it blesses the lives of the survivors and/or their families.”

For others, it has reinforced what they already learned about the Holocaust.

“I have read a lot of Holocaust novels over the years. The authors are not embellishing the truth for the sake of art,” says April Pearl, a freelance reporter from Mamaroneck, N.Y. “It is so horrific to hear firsthand the things that our fellow human beings have endured, and yet, at the same time, uplifting to realize how strong and resilient our bodies and spirits are.”

For more information on how you can help “never forget” by transcribing Holocaust survivors’ histories, visit NCRA.org/oralhistoriesprogram.

Join the NCRF challenge: 4,000 VHP interviews by Memorial Day

During the upcoming 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, held Feb. 14-20, NCRA members and court reporting students are urged to help celebrate the profession by considering transcribing an American war veteran’s history for submission to the Library of Congress as part of its Veterans History Project (VHP). Transcribing interviews with veterans during the week will also help the National Court Reporter Foundation’s goal of submitting 4,000 interviews by Memorial Day 2016. To date, NCRA members and students have submitted 3,879 interviews to the Library of Congress.

As an added benefit to capturing the stories of the nation’s war heroes, NCRA members can earn 0.25 Professional Development Credits for each transcription they complete, up to a maximum of 1.0 PDCs during each three-year certification period. Court reporting students who transcribe two interviews can also earn a complimentary student membership to NCRA through the Foundation’s Student Initiatives Program.

“I have done 10 transcripts now for the Veteran’s History Project, and I can’t say enough about the program,” says Susan Kemph, who began her involvement with the VHP program while a student at the College of Court Reporting, Hobart, Ind. “I first heard about it from my court reporting school. Because I was a student and didn’t have a lot of money for memberships and because I knew how beneficial membership in NCRA would be, I decided to give it a try. I do it every year now.”

Kemph says that besides being excellent practice for accuracy and dictionary building, the stories also drew her in and made her feel like she was able to be part of something bigger that would touch families across the country and benefit generations to come. Eventually she says she found a live VHP event that was organized in her state nearby, of which she is now an annual volunteer.

“It’s amazing to meet the veterans in person and take their histories live. The experience has given me a lot of confidence in my writing abilities. I passed my RPR written knowledge test and am working on my RPR skills tests,” she adds.

Currently in a career transition from student to working reporter, Kemph notes that the VHP program has provided her with the opportunity to use her skills and abilities to give back to veterans who have given so much for her freedom. The effort has also aided her in giving back to NCRA and her state association, which she said have done so much to support her education and professional development.

“The first year I participated in the VHP, my veteran talked about being in a foxhole for days in 20-below zero temperatures, hearing bullets fly inches from his head, and encountering situations no person should have to endure,” says Roselind C. Pisano, a freelance reporter from Chicago, Ill.

“Yet our veterans did this, and more, so that we can live in freedom. I was humbled by the experience and honored to be a part of the VHP. It’s the least I can do for the veterans who did so much for us,” said Pisano.

Pisano advises anyone who is considering participating in the VHP to just do it. She notes that for many family members or friends of veterans who are with them as they are interviewed, it is often times the first time they are hearing their loved ones tell their story or hearing certain details.

Don’t be afraid to participate, adds Kemph, because the experience is not just worth the time for someone’s own interest but for the altruistic value as well.

“My first VHP was a bit scary because it was all so new, but the real-life transcript practice is invaluable, and doing the recordings is really safe. Even if it takes you five hours to complete a transcript, you can go over the recording as many times as you need to in order to get it all down right,” she says.

“Their stories need to be preserved, and we can give such a small part of our time to honor these veterans for all they’ve done for us,” Pisano adds.

NCRF, the Association’s philanthropic arm, partnered with the Library of Congress more than 10 years ago to help collect transcripts for the VHP program through its Oral Histories Program. Transcripts provided to the Library of Congress are preserved for future use as part of the program. NCRF’s participation with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and other oral history initiatives, are supported through donations to the Foundation.

Read more about NCRF’s Oral Histories and Veterans History projects, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Assistant, at aweiner@ncra.org.