One of the phenomenal things that Oprah is doing on her tour is honoring and highlightling amazing people in the host city community. For DC, I was excited to see that it was Jaz Boothe of Final Salute, Inc. Final Salute supports female veterans, and I first heard about Jaz when she was an award recipient for a conference I attended last year. What she is doing for veteran moms is absolutely amazing and highly deserving of recognition from Oprah herself.
As a member of the media, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jaz immediately following her Standing-O award, and ask her a few questions (below questions were asked by various media outlets in the room including myself). Check out the interview below and find out how you can help us spread the word about this amazing organization.
How are you feeling right now?
Jaz Boothe: This is all still so surreal. I can’t believe I’m sitting here and I can’t believe I just met Oprah. [laughs]
Did you expect this or did you think you were one of many?
I thought there were a bunch of us that were going to be highlighted throughout the day today. That’s the lie they told me [laughs]. I’m definitely grateful and feel blessed to be here. It’s an issue that so many of my sisters are facing and that I have faced previously. So I’m grateful for the opportunity.
So what does this mean for your organization?
For Oprah to say your name and to say thank you, and I definitely appreciate Toyota for also helping out; it lets me know I’m on the right track. I always say that God gives you a mission but he doesn’t give you a blueprint. So this is validation that I’m doing the things that He is asking me to do.
How can others support you?
Giving is always there but awareness is the first step towards helping anyone. People have to know about the problem and the magnittude of the problem before anybody can help. You have the opportunity to go back to your networks and your circles to talk about homeless veterans and the fact that they are the fastest growing homeless population in America.
Do you have service related opportunities we can participate in?
We do and we’re a little different from most non-profits because we are a sisterhood. Sometimes people will donate lawn services, businesses will take them out to lunch. We are still people. They’re going through a touch situation, but while they’re there I also want to give them some sunshine so they don’t feel institutionalized. I want them to feel appreciated while they’re there.
Is there anything we can do on our platforms to help the problem before it gets to the stage where they need your services?
That’s a great questions. When people ask if we need more homes, I say no, we need less homes. Prevention is definitely key. Moms who experience trauma is a problem. Employment is a problem. Half of our population are single mothers, that’s a huge problem. A typical male veteran only has himself to worry about. Over 60% of programs that take in veterans don’t take in women, or women who have children. Or they may limit the number of children, so if I have three children and you only take two, how is that supposed to work? So prevention is definitely the key.
I don’t think it’s a military or government issue, I think it’s an American issue. We as Americans feel inclined to every other country’s call or hardship, but when it comes to our veterans, it’s not the same. I chose to do what I’m doing because I didn’t have to ask anybody’s permission. I felt that it was the right thing to do, and it was my calling and contribution.