Sherri Reuland, Boot Campaign Executive Director and I visited about the work that was inspired after reading a book, and how this led her to reach out to do more as an American in support of the military Veterans.
The concept for the campaign started when Sherri read the book by Marcus Luttrell titled “Lone Survivor” about his experience in Afghanistan that did not go so well and a day we lost 19 of our Special Ops; Marcus was the only one who made it out alive. This book was a very eye opening experience for Sherri, someone with no direct involvement with the military, but who had always been patriotic and supportive of the troops. She felt she could no long sit back and simply wave the flag, but was compelled to do something. She simply started out by giving the book to family and friends as gifts; her way to educate them and make them more aware. It did not take long before several friends, along with Sherri, decided to start what is now known as “The Boot Campaign.”
Through the six degrees of separation, each of the women had various connections and special skill sets that brought the team together and strengthened the campaign. The testing ground for the first round of support was a concert in which Joe Nichols, Heidi Newfield and Big D and Bubba were involved with and where photos were taken of the celebrities with military boots on. Soon after an invitation to take photos of Governor Rick Perry and then the Miss America contestants followed. “We realized from the start that we had a very strong campaign and that there was support out there.”
“Our goal collectively was to make Americans feel the impact and emotion of the young men and women who go over and fight for us, voluntarily. When they come back they are physically wounded or have issues mentally and struggle with reintegrating back into mainstream society and living a normal life. We wanted to inspire people using photographs. Our inspiration came from the “Got Milk” ad campaign of using celebrities to get the message to the public. If public figures would take a moment out of their day and put themselves in the shoes of the military we could accomplish the goal of bringing awareness to the needs of our veterans.”
The five “Boot Girls” manage the campaign as an all volunteer organization with a slogan of “Get Your Boots On” as a call out to Americans. Each of the five women brought unique skills and experiences to the table when organizing the campaign; Maria -Photography, Sherri – Business, Heather and Leanne - Event Planning and Ginger –Sales. All combined, the women were able to plan the events and bring corporate and financial backing to the campaign to create the awareness needed.
September 11, 2010 the Boot Girls will be in Tyler, Texas for the one-year anniversary of the campaign’s conception, the Country for our Country concert in 2009.
This year, the Country for our Country concert will be held on Sat., Sept. 11 at the Villa di Felicita, and will feature music by country music icons Phil Vassar, Heidi Newfield, Derek Sholl and Kacey Musgraves. Luttrell will be the Honored Guest of the evening. As stated on the Country for our Country website, the event “has been formed for the purpose of raising money and/or assets for the assistance of those in need. Primary beneficiaries will be military wounded and their families.” All of the funds raised support military veterans in achieving higher education or vocational opportunities. “We hope that “Get Your Boots On” will become the new yellow ribbon campaign for awareness of the past.”
In addition to the concert appearance, the Boot Campaign will release a CD and exclusive photographs of the artists on the album. The photos will be taken in the Boot Campaign’s signature style, with each artist donning the military issue combat boots made exclusively for the campaign by Georgia-based boot manufacturer Altama. Artists participating include Jack Ingram, Aaron Watson, Bleu Edmondson, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Eli Young Band, Derek Sholl, Jason Boland, Micky and the Motorcars, No Justice, Randy Rogers Band, Reckless Kelly, Stoney Larue, Wade Bowen and Robert Earl Keen.
The CD will be available for purchase at Hastings, Wal-Mart, ITunes, and Amazon.com as well as www.BootCampaign.com. The title track, “When They Come Back,” was co-written by rising country music star Derek Sholl and Tim Johnson. It serves as an anthem for the American military and celebration of their triumphs, while acknowledging the struggles these American heroes face when returning to civilian life back at home. The album will be released on Carved Records on Sept. 14, and proceeds benefit the Boot Campaign’s various charities.
Americans can now purchase their signature Boot Campaign combat boots by going to www.BootCampaign.com and clicking on “Buy Boots.” The campaign is linked to the boot manufacturer so all of the information regarding boot sizes, payment options and shipping info will be easily found. Every dollar past the cost of running the campaign goes to the Veteran foundations supported by the Boot Campaign which at the present time include, “Lone Survivor Foundation”, “USO, and “Military Warrior Support Foundation”. The goal is to make the recipients of the campaign support an ongoing and evolving list of beneficiaries. “The goal is to help the Veteran in a well rounded way and choose charities that collectively cover all of their needs.” The “Lone Survivor Foundation” has a vision of building a ranch in Tyler Texas where veterans who were wounded and need support of people of like mind can stay at the ranch where there will be full service facilities for treatment, therapy and recreation. The “Military Warrior Support Foundation” gives away homes to Veterans who need them, and the “USO” has stepped beyond their well known support of active military to also support and assist veterans in adjusting and reintegrating into society.
On Sept. 13, a day prior to the release of “When They Come Back,” Stormy Warren will emcee an event joined by the Boot Girls, Marcus Luttrell and Charlie Daniels for a fundraiser in Nashville called “Get Your Boots on, Nashville.” The event is open to the public and will be hosted by the Nashville Palm Restaurant, and will benefit Stars for Stripes and the Boot Campaign for the Lone Survivor Foundation. Daniels, along with wife Hazel, will host the event, along with Luttrell and Karri Turner of TV’s “J.A.G.”
Another upcoming promotion is the “Get Your Boots On” text campaign. Supporters can text the word BOOT to 46786 for up to date information on the campaign.
For more information and tickets to “Get Your Boots on, Nashville” call Paige Dixon at (615) 742-3193.
For more information regarding the Boot Campaign and these upcoming events, visit http://www.bootcampaign.com/.
Boot Campaign Facebook Fan Page: http://facebook.com/bootcampaign
Boot Campaign on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheBootGirls