I've known Joel for many years; he was actually one of the first veterans that I had met of our generation that had been deployed. Thank you Joel for taking the time to answer my questions and for serving our country!
Tours: Afghanistan 2004-2005
What do your boots mean to you? My boots mean a lot to me. I have a lot of different pairs of combat boots and there are a couple pairs that represent much more than just another pair of boots. I have two pairs in particular that I'll never get rid of because they are a symbol of what I have been through. I have one pair that I wore for the majority of Afghanistan and I still have them tucked away somewhere, cracked leather, worn sole and all. I have another favorite pair that I have worn for the past number of years training stateside, until recently retiring them from wearing the sole down too much.
Do you still wear your boots? I do still wear my boots for training because I am still active in the Army National Guard. I do still have a pair of black combat boots from before we switched uniforms, and I will wear those once in a while for motorcycling etc.
Tips or tricks for breaking in the boots: The best tip that I can give for breaking in your boots is to get them wet and wear them all day long until they dry. This especially works well if your boots are tight on your feet. You might want to change socks a couple times during the day if you do this trick.
What should civilians know about how to support veterans? I think one thing that civilians should know about how to support veterans is that we all have families. It is just as important to support our families as it is to support us individually. If a soldier's family is taken care of, it alleviates a lot of stress while a soldier is deployed and helps them perform their job better.