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What Military Appreciation Month Means to our Board Chair


In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Boot Campaign Board Chair, Josh Mayfield, shares why this year it means even more to him.

We are all familiar with Memorial Day as a day of solemn reflection on lives lost in service to our country. Same for Veteran’s Day in November where we are reminded to give thanks for the millions who have worn the uniform throughout history. But what about the roughly 2 million men and women currently serving? Should we wait for them to leave and become a Veteran, or God forbid, give their life for this country, before we show gratitude?

I grew up listening to both grandfathers sharing stories of WWII or Korean exploits or my father talking about his time in the U.S. Army. I have close friends who served and have heard their stories of love of country and their fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. And since 2019, I have been honored to be part of Boot Campaign’s Board of Directors. It was not until January 2, 2024 that I began to really appreciate our active duty troops. January 2, 2024 is the day my son, Jacob, shipped off to Army Basic Combat Training.

Jacob has wanted to be an Army Ranger since his freshman year of high school. Initially, I assumed his desire was a passing fad. But, by the time his senior year rolled around, it was clear that Jacob was working toward this goal. He educated himself on the Army, got in peak physical condition, and visited often with his local recruiter to start the transformation from civilian to soldier.

Last month, my wife and I visited him for the first time since he hopped on a plane for Basic Training for his Turning Green Ceremony, or graduation. There he was amongst the three platoons of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment marching onto the parade ground. Then it hit me: Right before my eyes were 200 young men and women who raised their right hand and swore the same oath to defend our country. Each hailed from different backgrounds — from poverty, to plenty, from big in stature to small, ranging from 18 to 40 years old. Tears streamed down my face as they all marched in step with their drill sergeant and I was overwhelmed with pride, of course, for Jacob, but also these 200 other strangers. Whatever they may accomplish during their service cannot change my appreciation for their decision and dedication and desire to serve.

No other experience I’ve shared with Veterans comes close to seeing how it all starts — on a parade ground in Georgia where 200 troops marched in as civilians and marched out as soldiers. Their sacrifices are significant and sadly, I did not appreciate it until I experienced it first-hand.

This May, this Military Appreciation Month, will be special, as my family and I honor Jacob and his fellow friends and soldiers we’ve met. I hope you join me in doing the same for all those who serve.