Empowering Military Families and veterans through collective impact
Boots in the Woods
The Call to Action
Military Families in the United States face enormous challenges. Since 2001, more than two million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Fifty-five percent are married and 40 percent have two children. More than 27 percent have self reported depression post-deployment, compounding the emotional and financial stress on their spouses and children. Yet community support for veterans and their families is plagued by fragmentation. LBC Action set out to help address this problem by convening a broad range of stakeholders to empower positive change for the military community through outdoor engagement and workforce development opportunities, formalized in a set of recommendations to Governor Jay Inslee.
Boots in the Woods brought together a diverse community of military and civilian leaders from around the country. Participants representing businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies worked alongside active duty personnel in action-oriented sector groups. While LBC Action helped to establish the structure for Boots in the Woods, the real work was done by the military, business, philanthropy, and grassroots leaders who had come to the Action Summit to collaborate on true impact for military families and veterans.
Impact does not happen without evaluation, and great evaluation starts with planning. LBC Action helped the Boots in the Woods team to establish clear goals: Cultivate positive opportunities for veterans and military families to lead, give back, and improve communities across Washington State. Provide a high-level overview of why veterans should care about conservation. Improve awareness of veteran initiatives for hiring veterans in companies by sharing learned lessons, creating synergy, and providing resource recommendations. Guided by these goals, the sector groups worked collaboratively to produce realistic and impactful strategies that will empower military families and veterans through outdoor engagement and workforce development opportunities.
In many ways, the Boots in the Woods Action Summit was both the project and the celebration. Focused collaboration across sectors led to tangible outcomes with the potential to improve lives for our nation’s military community. On the last night of Boots in the Woods, the participants gathered one last time to honor each other over a campfire featuring storytelling, music, and laughter. Several weeks later, the spirit of Boots in the Woods was captured in a film directed by LBC Action team member Thatcher Heldring and shot by Rene von Saint-George.