Loretta Rietsema has been a trustee of the Coast Guard Foundation for the past 10 years, during which she has led on important fundraising initiatives, which focused on the importance of education for Coast Guard members, their children and their spouses.
Laurie, as she's known to her friends, has strong roots with the Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard. Her father, Laurence J. Hoch, a retired commander and Coast Guard legal officer, was an early champion of the organization, helping the Foundation transition through an important expansion in the mid-1980s. The Foundation's headquarters in Stonington, Connecticut are dedicated to Hoch's contributions to the men and women of the Coast Guard.
Laurie Rietsema and Vice Commandant John Currier at the Washington, D.C. awards dinner.
Finding her father's service so inspiring, Laurie joined the Coast Guard after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. She entered Officer Candidate School at a time when being a female officer in the service was exceedingly rare, and Laurie enjoyed a great career in the Coast Guard, serving with distinction for nearly a decade.
"It was something I was familiar with and comfortable with, and I wanted to travel and I wanted to see new places, and do something that was exciting and interesting," Laurie said, of her decision to join the Coast Guard. "I thought that was a good way to do it, so I applied to Officer Candidate School, and got accepted, and took it from there."
In 2011, Laurie and the James L. Everitts Foundation, contributed $50,000 to a new program that provides grants to Coast Guard spouses, who are pursuing higher education opportunities.
Thanks to Laurie's gift, we were able to award grants to 77 spouses in 22 different states. Some were taking long distance courses through certified universities online, others attending colleges or technical schools. They ranged in age from 20-53. Some are parents, some are not. A common thread in their life is the love and support of their spouses and the United States Coast Guard and the desire to better themselves through education.
Laurie's Coast Guard career was recently highlighted by the Mountain Lake PBS, which serves the Adirondacks, Quebec and Northern Vermont.