From the military to the runway
What Do You Think When You Think About Veterans?
You probably think that they are brave. They go through long months of training in order to be prepared for the uncertain and they don’t know what’s going to happen next. They’ll come back home after a while, but being back has never been so tough! It’s not easy to get used to their lives again and they don’t feel they are the same person. Everything has changed for them and when trying to find a new job, many employers have misconceptions: “Maybe this person has emotional issues because of their past” or “being in the army and this job position have nothing to do with each other!”
Integrating to the society won’t be easy, but it’s possible! With some training, veterans can be taught to march, but this time they’ll be marching on a runway!
This is why Jas Boothe founded Prowess, the first all-veteran talent and modeling agency which provides the tools and resources to help them find jobs in the fashion world.
As a disabled veteran, Boothe had always been involved in veteran causes. In 2010, she was having a hard time: she lost a house due to the Hurricane Katrina and she had been diagnosed with cancer. But that was not enough to stop her, she knew she needed to do something to help others, this is when she created a non- profit organization to assist homeless women veterans.
Through the years she met veteran women who had been experimenting in the fashion industry. However they were insecure; they didn’t think their portfolios were good and they didn’t know how to find a job. This is when Boothe finds some volunteers and decides to go on another adventure: a modeling agency for veterans.
The agency’s motto is "Heroes come in all shapes and sizes" and even when there are false assumptions about hiring veterans, the idea has been successful since DC Fashion Week, Lord and Taylor, Izavel Varela, digital magazines and photography projects have hired Prowess models.
More than a job, but a life purpose
Joining the agency not only gives them the tools to succeed in the competitive world of modeling, but for some of them it has a deeper meaning: Marissa Strock is a double amputee who was seriously affected by a bomb in Baghdad, Iraq.
Strock has more challenges than many girls since she is a plus size model and she lost both feet in service, but she's pursuing her happiness no matter what and she says that the agency is helping her in creating a life plan after the attack.
Another model called Gerard Berry served the U.S army for three years, he said that after participating in ceremonies at the White House and the Pentagon, he didn’t feel fulfilment in his life. He wanted to be model and become an actor later, so, he separated from the soldiers and now he’s making his dream come true thanks to Prowess.
The founder says many veterans have been injured and their self image have changed, Boothe claims that they "don't see themselves as beautiful and capable anymore ... But once you make a model up and get them into the modeling zone, and they see the pictures"
An inclusive family
The model Sean Dickinson expresses that the agency not only gives him the training, but genuine friendships. He had modeled before but Prowess has made it easier for him because they don’t think his soldier background is an obstacle.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Ashby uses the agency as a networking tool to prepare himself for a transition out of the Armed Forces. He claims that there’s real support, because they share the same values and lifestyle and they share the same goal which is succeeding outside the military.
Shannon Ihrke: From the Army to a Maxim cover
There’s another story of a girl who left the army to be a model; her name is Shannon Ihrke. She joined the Armed Forces because her counselor told her that only single moms and veterans could get college paid for.
Once she started, she got crazy in love with it, but she had other interests, so, before leaving the military she began doing some photo shoots during the weekends.
Maxim magazine had a contest called Hometown Hotties and she never thought she could win, but a few weeks after that, her face was on the cover of Maxim magazine.