Steps towards the Ultimate Care Package for Veterans
It’s impossible for civilians to fully understand what America’s military members experience—to walk around in their boots, so to speak. But six years ago, five women from Texas decided that wearing combat boots could help civilians show solidarity with soldiers and, even better, help improve their physical and mental health, often hidden casualties of war. And so the Boot Campaign began.
The national nonprofit, nonpartisan charity is dedicated to promoting patriotism and our military community, raising awareness of the unique challenges service members face, and providing assistance to military personnel, past and present. Through its assistance program, ReBOOT, and with the help of an extensive network of health-care providers, the Boot Campaign provides comprehensive, individualized care for veterans struggling with transitional issues like traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
"This unique program brings together world-class mental and physical treatment partners, and thorough diagnostic evaluations, so each veteran gets specific care needed to live a fulfilling life," says Christina DeLaTorre, the Boot Campaign’s director of business development and events. "It’s a multidiscipline approach to treating veterans with TBI and other mental and physical health issues. Because a TBI is so complex and different in every person, an omni directional approach is necessary. No brain is the same, and therefore no brain injury is the same, regardless if the insults were caused in much the same way."
One of the campaign’s biggest accomplishments is its partnership with EXOS in Gulf Breeze, DeLaTorre says. "This is arguably one of the best physical rehab/training facilities in the nation, and it has for many years assisted our nation’s veterans in the arena of specialized fitness and nutrition."
That partnership plays a key role in ReBOOT’s multi-phase program for assessing veterans’ physical and mental health and giving them the treatment and support they need to get back to full speed. Phase one is a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation at one of three state-of-the-art medical facilities in Dallas. Phase two is multidiscipline treatment using five different institutes. Phase three is physical rehabilitation through fitness and nutrition at one of two facilities, including EXOS. Phase four is post-treatment cognitive and diagnostic assessments. Phase five is at least a year of follow-up to catch any residual issues.
ReBOOT removes the financial barriers that can make this kind of comprehensive care prohibitive, even covering travel, lodging, meals and other expenses incurred during treatment. All this is made possible through the sale of combat boots and other retail merchandise at Shop.BootCampaign.org.
Because the organization is small—just 10 employees, with a volunteer network to help with events and fundraising—it returns 80 cents of every dollar to veterans through its programs.
That’s one thing that sets the Boot Campaign apart from so many military-focused charities, DeLaTorre says. The other is the sweeping impact the Boot Campaign can make in the life of a military family.
"We give back quality of life to veterans," she says. "We give wives their husbands back, and children their mothers back."
For more information, visit BootCampaign.org.