2018 was full of steady focus on the mission for us at Boot Campaign.
We held fast to our commitment to give more than $1 million in support of veterans struggling to overcome invisible wounds of war. Two hundred military family members were impacted by our health and wellness pipeline that provides individualized, holistic and comprehensive care. We welcomed new partners like the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and Warriors Heart to our pipeline of care. We were recognized by the Better Business Bureau as one of 26 national veteran and military service nonprofits that meet the 20 Better Business Bureau standards for charity accountability and I’m proud to say that in 2018, 88 cents of every dollar went directly to meet our mission.
In 2018, Boot Campaign veteran ambassador and paralyzed U.S. Army veteran Ricky Raley took matters into his own hands, rolled out of New York City in August and rode down the East Coast to combat veteran suicide in the first #RaleyRoadTrip. And I did something I never thought I’d do. I flew 14,000 feet in the air on a freezing cold November day and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. From that day on, I coined a new phrase and new motto for me personally and for Boot Campaign: #LiveLacedUp
For me, living laced up means saying thank you for your service when I see a Vietnam veteran at the grocery store or restaurant. I can always spot them with their black cap donned with yellow and gold lettering representing their service. Living laced up means sharing stories of military service with my kids and the importance of showing respect to those who protect their freedoms. It may be communicated in simple terms given their ages six and three. Now when they spot someone in uniform at the airport or even on TV, they shout, “Mommy, look!”, they are military, and we love them.” Living laced up also means shining a light on the soul of Boot Campaign each time I wear my boots and get asked, “What’s with the boots?”
For my teammates at Boot Campaign like Beth Davis, “It’s the decision every day to stand up for those who stand & stood for me! Never forgetting and always reminding my children nothing is free and we are blessed to have those willing to pay for freedom.”
For Lydia Matula whose grandfather, U.S. Navy pilot CDR Valentine George Matula, served in World War II and ultimately died in south Vietnam, living laced up means, “Everyday day when we wake up, someone is away from their family fighting for the freedoms we enjoy. We can all do our part to give back to those that give so much for us whether it be physically or mentally lacing up, it’s our duty to show our military and their families that we’ve got their back.”
And for Dr. Jenny Howland, military spouse, daughter of a Vietnam veteran and director of our health and wellness program, living laced up means, “a visible and an internal commitment to keep our military and veterans in my heart and mind, while doing my part to take action to bring awareness and take care of the warriors who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom.”
I am honored to serve alongside a group of people who daily #LiveLacedUp for the benefit of those who are hard at work so we can live free. I’m also proud of the work that Boot Campaign accomplished in 2018. We didn’t do it alone so be sure to see our growing list of donors and consider lacing up YOUR boots to join the team! After all, as Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” so let’s #LiveLacedUp and support those who serve us all.