When Team ADDO executive director CW3 James Boggs retired, it was with distinction and over 20 years of service as an Army Blackhawk pilot and a Marine. But he was just getting started.
His great-grandfathers served and then his grandparents on both sides were in the thick of it during World War II. His grandmother, too. Then Boggs’ father raised his right hand and gave 10 years as a Marine during the Vietnam War. With a history like that, putting on a uniform himself seemed like a forgone conclusion growing up.
“All the photos were hung around our house and the stories of service told at all of the parties. It was just all around me. As a kid my favorite movies were Full Metal Jacket and Heartbreak Ridge,” he laughed. “Honestly, that should tell you everything right there. I was going to be a Marine like my dad and grandfather. There wasn’t any other choice.”
It wasn’t going to be easy. Boggs described himself as a “big boy” during his high school years and not very muscular. When he graduated basic training, he’d dropped 50 pounds. His own family didn’t even recognize him.
“It was more than a physical transformation for me but mentally and emotionally too,” he added. “I’m a Christian and a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe I was put on this earth to serve people.”
And serve, he did. From 1994 through 2004 Addo was a proud Marine and Air Traffic Controller. When he transitioned out after a decade, it was to become a police officer. Though Boggs loved his job, he found himself missing the military. After two years he hung up his shield to enter into the Army as a Black Hawk pilot.
“My grandmother was an instructor pilot during World War II and taught pilots how to fly before they headed into the European theater. I feel like aviation has always been in my blood. My father has always flown and we even helped him build an airplane when we were kids,” he explained. “I flew Black Hawks for over 10 years in the Army and had some of the greatest and most traumatic experiences of my life. It defined me as a person.”
After getting out of the Army in 2018, Boggs knew he wasn’t done serving. As a matter of fact, he’d been laying the groundwork for his next chapter for years. His next mission? Taking care of America’s veterans.
Team ADDO has Latin origins and means to inspire, give or to bring. Choosing the name was very much intentional. As he began to navigate first steps for the organization, focusing on ensuring veterans had the best possible transition was at the top of the priority list.
“When we’re getting out we have no clue how to dress because we’ve been in one uniform or another so much of our life. Part of the problem with transitioning is we look great on paper but we don’t necessarily look the part,” Boggs explained.
Team ADDO decided to change that. Their hallmark initiative, Veterans Closet, is to get those who are a year or less out of service a tailored suit, with a value of over $1,500.
“It’s cut with their measurements and isn’t off some rack. This becomes their new uniform,” he said. “It’s a confidence thing and a booster. The statistics I’m reading are showing that so many of the suicides we’re seeing are during or close after transition from military service. I’m not saying that a suit is going to fix everything but it’s a good start to helping.”
Not only does Team ADDO give chosen veterans a brand-new tailored suit, but they complete resume reviews and provide professional headshots. Mentors are also standing ready to assist with career placement, networking opportunities and engaging in in-person events. Since the nonprofit was started in 2018, they’ve outfitted over 600 veterans with tailored suits and transition support.
“I always say dream big. We’d love to be the official nonprofit heading this specific transition piece for service members. Part of what Team ADDO is doing is lobbying for legislation to put a program like this in place automatically for veterans transitioning out,” Boggs shared.
The sky's the limit and the team hopes to reach 1000 veterans in 2023 through the raffle of a donated Bronco. If the fundraising efforts meet the goals, they’ll do that and more. “It's a lofty goal for sure considering we did 100 in 2022 but I’m not going to give up. I’ll keep chipping away at this and doing my best for the people that deserve it,” Boggs said.
To learn more about Team ADDO and their mission to outfit veterans for success, click here.