This weekend I had the honor of attending Oprah’s Life You Want Tour in Washington, D.C. If you could ever imagine being on an inspirational high, that was the atmosphere of the Life You Want Weekend. The Life You Want Weekend not only left you feeling inspired, but also left you with the desire to do and be more.
One of those inspirational highs was the honoring of a special Army veteran, Jas Boothe, with a “Standing O-Vation.” Jas Boothe founded Final Salute Inc. an organization that provides homeless women Veterans with safe and suitable housing. Oprah’s Standing O-Vation recognizes women who dare to be great, recognized a need or inspired a movement. As an honoree, Final Salute Inc. received a $25,000 grant to continue their mission of helping homeless women Veterans.
As a person with several family members and friends in the military, I could not resist sharing her story.
“Jas Boothe is a Chicago Native and disabled Army Veteran, who gave 13 years of service to this great nation.
She deployed during the Operation Iraq Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom campaigns and her military career has been dedicated to working with and advocating for Soldiers and their family members.
In 2005, she was a single parent in the Army Reserves living in New Orleans. That spring, she learned she would soon be deploying to Iraq. During her mobilization, Boothe’s life was torn apart by two significant events. In August, she lost everything she owned due to Hurricane Katrina. She tried to shift her focus to her platoon that was counting on her for leadership through the deployment. The next month in September, she received a devastating diagnosis of an aggressive head, neck, and throat cancer, and was now unable to deploy.
Boothe’s options were limited and posed some very hard choices for her. Because of her illness, she was facing discharge from the military. However, she needed complex full-time medical care, a job, and a place to live with her young son. When searching for what assistance might be available, she was told there were no existing programs for female Veterans with children and that she should explore welfare and social services as an option, just like every other single mother. Jas then realized that America had forgotten about the women who have served, fought, bled and died alongside their male counterparts. She found these options unacceptable for a woman who had honorably served her country and after extensive cancer treatment, including radiation therapy that left life-long side effects, at Brooke Army Medical Center; she was able to stay in the Reserves and immediately began looking for full-time employment and a place for her and her son to live.
In 2006, she relocated to Missouri with her aunt, where she had subsequently accepted a job offer from the Army National Guard. Later in the year, she received an opportunity to return to full-time duty in Washington, DC. Boothe never forgot what she and her son had been through and was determined to ensure her fellow sister Veterans had a resource in their time of need.
To date, Final Salute Inc. has assisted over 250 women Veterans and children and now operates three transitional homes in Alexandria, VA, Martinsburg, WV and Columbus, OH.”1
For more information on Final Salute Inc. visit finalsaluteinc.org.
Photo Courtesy of Harpo, Inc.