Country Stars Join Boot Campaign to Help Troops
There are more than 1.4 million American soldiers on active duty and more than 300,000 servicemen are stationed overseas. Army studies reveal that roughly 1 in 8 soldiers who return from battle suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But five women from Tyler, Texas are working to combat PTSD while honoring America’s troops—and they’re using boots and country stars to do it.
“There’s a lot of worthy charity organizations out there. This is one of those underpublicized issues that we have in the country now,” country singer Joe Nichols said.
The “Boot Girls” were struck after reading The Lone Survivor by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. During his time in Afghanistan, Luttrell was chased by the Taliban for five days before emerging as the only survivor from Operation Redwing. His story sparked a simple idea: start a non-profit boot-selling business to help soldiers deal with life after service.
The grassroots campaign began locally in early 2010, but eventually started garnering national attention. Actors, athletes, and celebrities jumped on board, donning their boots in posed photographs. Nichols recently joined the cause.
“I think being a soldier—that’s the higher honor of any job there is,” Nichols said. “We should probably pay respect to those people more than any other.”
Nichols shot the video for his current single, “The Shape I’m In,” with Luttrell and two other veterans.
“The experience was great. I took away from those guys that they show true courage,” Nichols said. “They have the kind of fortitude and drive that we all want to have.”
“The Shape I’m In” currently sits at No. 19 on the Billboard charts. The video was shot in Nashville in early December.
“It’s amazing to see guys who have been through so much that have a smile on their face,” Nichols said. “They say ‘I’ve had this happen to me. I’ve lost a limb. I’ve lost my eyesight. But I’m making every other part of me better. I’m moving on and making the best of this situation.’”
In the first six months of sales, the Boot Campaign raised more than $160,000 for charities like the USO and other military-based organizations.
Nichols—who’s preparing a new single (“Take It Off”) and album this year—said he will likely don his boots during his next USO tour overseas. This year he plans to visit troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Korea.
“They are just a great group of folks that appreciate everything we do,” Nichols said. “They are the most humbled people and they never take credit for the sacrifices they make for us.”
If you want to support the Boot Campaign, you can buy your own boots here. Also available is a CD titled When They Come Back…We Give Back, featuring Texas artists such as Jack Ingram, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, Robert Earl Keen, Reckless Kelly, and the Randy Rogers Band.
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