MEET THE VETERANS
It has been such an honor getting to know these incredible women and documenting their stories. Their strength, poise, and bravery are on display at every turn and we are so excited to introduce them to you.
MAJ JASPEN BOOTHE (ARMY)
Jas is a Chicago Native, disabled veteran, cancer survivor, and international speaker who served 17 years in the Army. She founded Final Salute in 2010 and the Ms Veteran America competition in 2012, which have collectively raised over $2 million and assisted over 3600 women veterans and children in over 30 states and territories. In honor of her leadership and positive impact on the community, Boothe has been recognized by Oprah Winfrey, Toyota, People Magazine, CNN Heroes, and The Department of Defense.
SGT NICHOLE ALRED (ARMY)
Nichole served 6 years in the Army as a mechanic, including one tour in Kuwait and two in Iraq. Nichole joined the Army as a single mother in an effort to give her son a better life. She and her mother share a very special relationship, with her mother being her biggest supporter throughout her service and through the Ms. Veteran America competition. Today she lives in Alabama with her husband. She is going to school and loves riding her Harley.
MA1 HOPE GARCIA (NAVY)
Hope is a survivor. She served 10 years in the Navy before being placed on the Permanent Disability Retired list. She struggles with PTSD, as well as with the trauma resulting from the two sexual assaults she suffered during her service. The trauma Hope has endured hasn’t stopped her from fighting to better her life for not only her but her sons. At the time of filming Hope was working her way through school while attempting to build a career as a pin-up model. Through participating in the Ms. Veteran America competition, Hope was reunited with her mother and the two were able to start building a relationship.
LCDR RACHEL ENGLER (NAVY)
Rachel is second-generation Navy on both her mother and father’s side. A former NFL cheerleader and a registered nurse, she received her officer’s commission straight out of college and deployed to Afghanistan. In 2011, she was diagnosed with a chronic neuromuscular illness called Myasthenia Gravis – a condition which still affects her life today, but which hasn’t slowed her volunteer work on behalf of her fellow veterans.
SGT ANDREA WATERBURY (ARMY)
Andrea enlisted in the Army two days after 9/11 and was deployed in Iraq for two years starting in 2003. A dynamic small-town woman and divorced mother of four, she works as the Cavalier Cadet Corp instructor at Chillicothe High School and she continues to serve proudly in the Army Reserves.
SPC MARISSA STROCK (ARMY)
Marissa lost both lower legs in 2005, when an IED detonated beneath her Army Humvee outside Baghdad. Three of the five people on board were killed, and Marissa spent weeks in a medically-induced coma. After competing in Ms. Veteran America 2013 and taking home three trophies, including one for significant military achievement, this self-proclaimed “glamputee” has served as the event’s master of ceremonies in subsequent years. She has an impressive collection of fabulous shoes and refuses to let the loss of her legs slow her down.
MSgt DENYSE GORDON (AIR FORCE)
Denyse comes from a long and proud history of military and civic service. Her maternal grandfather served during WWII, her stepfather was a Vietnam era veteran and served in the United States Navy, her sister is a United States Army Reserve Captain who is a veteran of both the Gulf War and Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom, her mother retired as an Executive Officer with the New York City Police Department Traffic Division and Denyse, who is also an OEF/OIF combat veteran, is an 22 1/2 Year United States Air Force Reserves Master Sergeant having served 12 years on active duty. In 2012, she was crowned the first Ms. Veteran America and continues with the competition as its director.