The Boot Campaign is encouraging civilians to put on their own pair of combat boots to support military service members.
Five Texas, women created the nonprofit organization in 2010 to promote patriotism and cultivate support for military service members and veterans after reading the book “Lone Survivor” by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
“They like to say they were patriots, and [the book]awakened the patriots in them,” said Johnny Joey Jones, Boot Campaign executive director of marketing and promotions and Marine Corps veteran.
The group started the awareness campaign with a photo of country music performer Joe Nichols wearing combat boots, which eventually led to other celebrities and politicians posing for their own photographs wearing combat boots.
“The pictures landed on Gov. [Rick] Perry’s desk, and [the group]got a call that Gov. Perry wanted to do a picture,” Jones said. “Since then we’ve taken pictures of over 500 celebrities in combat boots from the cast of “Sons of Anarchy” to The Rock [and the]Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Our organization became over a few years a way of raising awareness and promoting patriotism among our civilians by showing celebrities wearing combat boots.”
Originally known as When They Come Back, We Give Back, the organization was eventually rebranded as the Boot Campaign and along with raising awareness the group now offers assistance with jobs, housing, wellness, and family support to military service members and veterans.
The organization raises funds through its retail outlet, which offers T-shirts, accessories and combat boots.
In 2013, of the $3.2 million raised by Boot Campaign, more than $2.3 million went toward serving its mission of assisting veterans and service members, according to the nonprofit. To date in 2014, Boot Campaign has sold more than 3,800 pairs of combat boots. For each pair sold an average of $50 goes toward the mission.
“We are able to have a retail side of our organization that keeps our brand out there but also raises money for our mission,” Jones said.
He said the boots are similar to the yellow ribbons used to show support for military service members.
The nonprofit also raises money through grass-roots efforts such as Push-ups for Charity, a 90-second push-up challenge, and larger events such as the annual Boot Ride, a motorcycle rally with the cast of the “Sons of Anarchy” television show.
“Our goal is to get the [more than]300 million Americans living in this country, no matter what they are into or where they are at, appreciative and then in turn supportive of our military,” Jones said.
The Boot Campaign also offers financial support to service members, veterans and their families when their needs cannot be or are not fulfilled by other organizations, Boot Campaign Communications Director Melanie Dunham said.
“Our only qualification is that you’ve served or you serve,” she said.
In the past year the organization has offered assistance to individuals throughout Central Texas, including providing a van for a family in Killeen as well as offering Hurley clothing for children and adults at Fort Hood.
Individuals in need of assistance can fill out an application online and must provide documentation. All requests go through a committee for final approval, Dunham said.
“We are really good at figuring out what it is they need to make their situation better and providing that,” she said.
Boots for troops
The Boot Campaign sells combat boots as well as T-shirts and accessories to help raise awareness for the armed forces as well as funds to support service members, veterans and their families through a variety of assistance programs.
The Boot Campaign began raising awareness with photos of celebrities wearing combat boots. The nonprofit has also taken photos of local law enforcement officers, including the Williamson County Precinct 1 Constable’s office.
Boot Campaign, 907 Rockmoor Drive, 512-869-2685, www.bootcampaign.com