Lisa Sietsma, 48, of Scott Township, knows first hand the importance of supporting the nation’s veterans and members of its military. Her grandfather was an Army major and doctor who served in World War II. One of her brothers, who was also in the Army, was killed in a helicopter crash in 1986. One of her sons is now in the National Guard. Many of her uncles and other relatives serve or served in various branches of the military.
“It goes deep,” Sietsma said. “I’ve always wanted to do something, but I knew serving (in the military) wasn’t my thing.”
Then about three-and-a-half years ago she heard about the National Remember Our Troops Campaign (NROTC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of military service members, veterans and their families.
The charity had job openings for donation table representatives, or “table reps,” people who host tables in front of stores and at various community events. In addition to donations to benefit the veterans, table reps collect “thank you” and “get well soon” cards, which are forwarded to deployed troops and hospitalized veterans.
Sietsma jumped at the chance to apply, and was hired.
She is now the NROTC’s northeast regional manager and has a growing number of table reps working under her in her region, which stretches from Maine to West Virginia, excluding Maryland.
“Being part of something like this has been amazing,” she said.
When asked what she loves about her job, she referred to it as her “passion.”
“I love the servicemen,” she said. “The veterans need our help.”
According to its website, nrotc.org, some of the many ways the charity does this is by working to:
• “Improve the morale of our troops”
• “Combat depression, PTSD and suicide”
• “Provide meaningful employment, emergency financial aid and assistance for homeless and other needy veterans”
Sietsma recounted one such story:
“About a month or so ago, there was a veteran who was stranded in California. He thought he was going out there for a job, and it sounded all good, but he got stranded out there because the job wasn’t what he expected.”
She explained the man first called many other organizations for help, but without success.
“All he needed was $100 to get home,” she said.
He eventually called the NROTC, which provided the funds for his return.
“We helped about 3,000 veterans between September and December (2016), and our goal this year is 10,000,” Sietsma said. “You can imagine, since we did 3,000 in that short time period, how many we can help this year.”
As the northeast regional manager, Sietsma asks people to get involved in four specific capacities with the NROTC:
• As a volunteer: All types of volunteers are welcome, and hours can be counted toward community service requirements. Learn more at nrotc.org/volunteer.
• As a paid table rep: All the information needed to apply can be found online at nrotc.org/tablerep.
• As a paid field rep: This job requires working within a territory to call on business owners to support the organization. For more info, visit www.nrotc.org/job.
• As an affiliate: This is a new program, which is set to launch nationwide on Feb. 20. Affiliates will receive commission for collecting donations online. More information will be available at nrotc.org/affiliate.
No matter in what capacity one serves, however, the goal is the same: to show the veterans they are not forgotten.
“Veterans shouldn’t be out on the streets,” Sietsma said. “They shouldn’t be homeless. They shouldn’t be hungry. They put their lives on the line for us to have the freedom that we have right now.”
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.