Veterans History Project, stenographers work to collect stories

Radio station WTOP in Washington, D.C., posted an article about NCRA’s and NCRF’s involvement with the Veterans History Project program.

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Listen to radio story.

NCRA member helping veterans preserve their stories

The Daily Item posted an article on Oct. 26 about NCRA member Colleen Wentz, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Middleburg, Pa., who is helping local veterans record, in their own words, their military experiences as part of the Veterans History Project.

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NCRA member participates in local VHP project

On Oct. 18, Riverbend.com reported that NCRA member Jill Layton, RMR, an official court reporter from Toledo, Ill., represented the Illinois Court Reporters Association at a recent VHP event hosted by the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

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NCRF receives $25,000 grant to support VHP

Marcia Ferranto and Judge Michael Cicconetti

On Sept. 20, the Hon. Michael Cicconetti of the Painesville Municipal Court, Painesville, Ohio, presented NCRA CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto with a $25,000 check in support of the National Court Reporters Foundation’s (NCRF) Veterans History Project efforts during a visit to the Association’s Reston, Va., headquarters.

The grant was generated from money remaining from a class action suit. Funds that go unclaimed in such suits are typically placed in a trust fund by the legal firm representing the plaintiffs. Once the funds have been disbursed, any remaining money is either distributed as grants to nonprofit and charity organizations, or in some cases, returned to the defendants.

“The work that NCRF and the members of NCRA do to help ensure the valuable stories of our war heroes are preserved for generations to come through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project is priceless,” said Cicconetti, who is a past NCRF Trustee and longtime supporter of the court reporting and captioning professions. Cicconetti suggested that the Foundation apply for the grant.

“This grant will go far in helping these committed volunteers to continue to be able to capture these important historical stories for our children and their children to read and better understand and appreciate the many sacrifices those who serve in our military forces make to keep this nation safe and free,” added Cicconetti, who has been recognized nationally and internationally for his creative sentencing strategies.

“It is an honor to have Judge Cicconetti as such a good friend and supporter of the Foundation and its programs and of the court reporting and captioning professions. He understands how important the human factor in these professions is to ensuring an accurate record is made and in the benefits these stenographic skills can provide to the Deaf and hard of hearing,” said NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak.

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 nearly 4,300 U.S. war veterans, building a lasting legacy of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation during wartime. The interviews are then submitted to the Library of Congress, where they are archived for later use by scholars, students, and future generations.

The interviews have been taken during special VHP days held around the country and hosted by state and local court reporting associations, firms, and individuals. Nationally, NCRF has hosted a number of VHP events as well that have captured the unique and telling stories of veterans from World War II forward, as well as Purple Heart recipients. NCRF has also hosted three Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project events, supported by a grant from the American Society of Association Executives, that used volunteer captioners to enable veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss to be interviewed so their experiences could be chronicled.

“The VHP allows us to highlight a way that we can give back to society as court reporters and captioners by helping to preserve history,” said NCRA Executive Director and CEO Marcia Ferranto. “It also allows us to build a greater awareness of the important work and skills of court reporters and captioners around the country.”

The Foundation will host a VHP event at the Ginger Cove Retirement Community located in Annapolis, Md., near the U.S. Naval Academy, on Sat., Nov. 10. For more information or to volunteer to participate, contact Sharon Davoren, Foundation Assistant, at sdavoren@ncra.org. NCRA members who volunteer for VHP events can earn Professional Development Credits.

Make an impact in Washington, D.C., at the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

NCRA members meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill, including Meredith Bonn and her colleagues from New York, shown top-right with Rep. Kathleen Rice

“The NCRA Legislative Boot Camp was a tremendous training opportunity,” said Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Westphal Reporting, in Dubuque, Iowa. Waterhouse-Schwalm attended the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp and is currently the president-elect of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. “I continue to use the skills we received training on to this day, and they will always be of value,” she said.

The 2018 event has two days of sessions on decision-making, grassroots lobbying, certification legislation, and more. But what makes this event unique is the location: our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

While many of the sessions at Boot Camp are new, attendees will still have the opportunity to take the lessons they’ve learned and practice their new skills in mock meetings. In these mock meetings, attendees will test their strategies for speaking with legislators, and they will receive feedback to tweak their messaging and delivery.

“The mock hearings prepared me by allowing me to get my nerves out by practicing,” said Meredith Bonn, RPR, an official in Webster, N.Y. Bonn also attended the 2016 event and is currently an NCRA Director after having served on the New York State Court Reporters Association board. “I must say having not an ordinary practice session, but a tension-filled, lifelike situation was eye-opening and helpful.”

Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, left, and Kara Holland, center, meet with Capitol Hill staffers

On the final day of the event, attendees will get the full D.C. experience, traveling by Metro to Capitol Hill and spending the day meeting face-to-face with their elected officials and staff and talking to them about the important issues that affect court reporting and captioning today.

“Being there in awe of all its history is amazing,” said Bonn. “To have the ear and attention of our legislators was appreciated. To communicate a clear, concise, and useful message was empowering.”

“Kara, our current Iowa Court Reporters Association president, had a meeting with the governor last week to do a press event for the signing of the proclamation for Court Reporting & Captioning Week,” said Waterhouse-Schwalm, who attended with Kara Holland, RPR.  “Afterward she and our lobbyist, Bill Wimmer, went to meet at the capitol with state representatives. She mentioned how Boot Camp training really kicked in and made her much more comfortable in those meetings and helped her shape her arguments and talking points.”

After a full day of D.C. action, attendees will wrap up their experience with a reception in the beautiful Library of Congress honoring the popular Veterans History Project (VHP). Many NCRA members have participated in the VHP, and this reception will help them have a deeper understanding of the value of this project and reporters’ and captioners’ participation in it. The reception will also allow attendees to compare notes and share wins from the day.

“The Boot Camp was a challenging experience that has value beyond measure,” added Waterhouse-Schwalm. “Those training tools have been used both in board work and in many other ways. It gives you great confidence in advocating for your profession and your fellow reporters.”

Register for the 2018 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp at NCRA.org/BootCamp by Feb. 23.

Take Note! Court reporters and captioners transcribe interviews for Veterans History Project

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Feb. 10, the Library of Congress posted a blog written by April Weiner, Manager of the National Court Reporters Foundation. The blog provided insight into how court reporters and captioners are helping to preserve the stories of American war veterans.

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Plan ahead for learning opportunities through NCRA

calendar

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Mark your calendars and plan your learning path with NCRA through 2018. NCRA offers opportunities to earn CEUs in a variety of ways, from certification to webinars to live events. NCRA is your one-stop shop for your educational needs, whether you are working toward your next certification, your cycle ending date, or another goal.

Keep in mind that NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS Exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change):

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 10-17), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs, although members and students are invited to participate throughout the year. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages as they are available.

Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.

Court reporters help vets’ stories live on

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Nov. 20, the Courier Tribune posted a photo with a caption from a Veterans History Project hosted by the Missouri Court Reporters Association.

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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.

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Members give back: Honoring U.S. veterans

A family of four dressed for chilly weather pose outside in front of a suburban house

Michelle Keegan with her two sons and her husband, who served in the infantry in Operation Desert Storm

By Michelle Keegan

Over the years, I have transcribed many interviews of veterans through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and the National Court Reporters Foundation. I feel honored to be able to take part in such a worthwhile program. Every interview brings a new understanding of the sacrifices that our veterans have made. Often I am left in awe by the courage that these men and women showed at such a young age when called to defend our nation. More times than not, after I finish transcribing an interview, I immediately want to transcribe another. I find that as the veteran recounts his or her story, I become mesmerized. I often find that I’m laughing along with the veteran to the funny stories that are remembered, and I get teary eyed along with the veteran when he or she relates some of the more difficult memories.

One memory that was recounted recently was by a veteran of the Air Force. He said that a bunch of guys got together and decided to go into town, and they bought a kitchen sink. And they took the kitchen sink with them. They had tipped off the photographers who went along that when they got to the target, they were going to dump the kitchen sink down on the target so the headlines would read in the paper that the Nazis got hit with everything and the kitchen sink. That’s a true story.

I have recently met with the head of the local Veterans Administration to start a Veterans History Project that will interview our city’s veterans. It is my hope that the veterans of our city will share their stories through the Veterans History Project so that we as a society may gain a better understanding of what their experiences in wars were like, what they did as they integrated back into society, and how they are able to cope with and overcome some of the difficult memories that they have. I hope that by hearing these stories, we as a society will not forget that throughout our history, our country has needed protection, and these men and women bravely answered the call. And many of them are our neighbors.

Veterans Day may have come and gone this year, but one way that we as court reporters can give back is by volunteering to transcribe the stories of a veteran. NCRA and, through it, NCRA members have been working with the Library of Congress since 2003 both to record and transcribe the stories of the diverse group of men and women who have served our nation.

Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from Quincy, Mass. She can be reached at michellekeegan2010@hotmail.com.

For more information about the Veterans History Project, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact April Weiner, Foundation Manager, at aweiner@ncra.org.