Airforce ROTC Volunteer of the Year

Sgt James Lewis
May 31, 2017

UMD's Tech Sargent  James A. Lewis, won the 2016 Air Force National Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Volunteer of the Year Award.

Giving back to the community has always been really important to Tech Sargent Jim Lewis. During his upbringing in New Orleans, his family and town always supported others. Lewis said, “No matter what the situation was, people always volunteered to help – in a time of tragedy or happiness. People always helped each other out. It’s a way of life for me.” Lewis added, “I’m glad I was recognized for something I’ve done my entire life and career, but I always love helping people out. I’m truly honored by the recognition of the Air Force and my commander.”

His career in the armed forces started when he went to college and decided he needed more money to complete his education. He first joined the military as a police officer guarding a gate. One day in 2001, there was a ROTC non-commission officer that came through his gate and he told Lewis how great it was to work for an ROTC unit. Eventually, he went into Computer  Administration through the Air Force and worked for NATO in Belgium for five and a half years. There, he learned to speak fluent French and played for the professional football team.  

Lewis then sought out a university job through ROTC and relocated to UMD in the Air Force ROTC as a Non-Commission Officer. Lewis says the transition to Minnesota was easy, “Minnesotans really embrace you.” Until recently, Lewis was a staff member with our ROTC program and supervised undergraduate members' finances, fitness, security clearance and physical therapy.

In addition to his work with the university, Lewis is a sponsor and strong supporter of the 23rd Veteran, an organization that helps veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), finding employment, mental health counseling and re-integration into civilian life.

Sgt. Lewis is able to support the 23rd Veteran group with money made from his clothing line brand, “The Silent Battle," and he strongly believes that not all battles are fought on the battle field. 

Not long after Lewis was notified of his volunteer award, he was deployed to the Middle East through Special Ops. He will be serving around a seven month tour. He said, "The rest of the Silent Battle Team will be stepping up while the Captain is gone.” 

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