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"We aim to recognize youth family members by

sharing and celebrating their sacrifices, contributions, and stories."

How KICB Came To Be

As the founders of Kids in Combat Boots, we have plenty of stories about our experiences being family members of someone who served in the military and government services. We never thought about how unique and isolating the experience could be until Vanessa Mae's emergency medical evacuation (medevac) from a foreign country. When that happened, a teenage Vanessa Mae felt alone and detached from the people caring for her in the States. She didn't have anyone to talk to or to share her thoughts and worries - besides her family - and she felt that we each had our own fears to deal with. During her year-long medevac, we were separated from our support system, community, and personal belongings. It was a struggle to find and connect with people who understood this unique lifestyle: being the child of a member of military or government service.

With the goal of understanding our community, we discovered that there are over 1.5 million children of active duty soldiers and National Guard and Reserve members, 58% of them between the ages of 6-18. This number does not include the children of government service employees like the Department of State, Department of Defense civilians, FBI, and other federal agencies who also share a transitory upbringing. From this discovery, Kids in Combat Boots emerged. Realizing that we weren’t alone - that there was a small and far flung population of young people out there potentially feeling similar detachment - pushed us to take matters into our own hands and create the unique and welcoming community we craved during that hardship. We decided to create a “hometown” through this website and podcast, which anyone can join regardless of their affiliation, to share their stories, build camaraderie, and be recognized for their indirect service. Children who experience regular displacement and struggle with their identities can now share those experiences with people who understand. We can help them access resources, too. Together we can make these experiences a little easier. 


"We are the people who want the best for each other and our community...

it is the same level of support that got us through the toughest times."

Meet the Team



I grew up in the northwoods of Wisconsin before joining the military. From cleaning teeth at Little Rock Air Force Base to flying with the Blue Angels in Fat Albert (the team’s C-130 aircraft), I loved serving in the Air Force and all the adventures it provided. I have served in 10 posts as an active duty military member and a spouse.

After earning my B.A. from University of Wisconsin and obtaining my Masters Degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University, I decided to continue my education in an MBA program with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Development. I also hold down a day job, raise two active boys, and serve as Director of Communications for KICB. In my free time, I serve our community in a variety of volunteer activities. 

I love adventures and meeting people near and far from home, whether it's exploring the parks and sights in the USA or visiting friends around the world, including Honduras, Ecuador, and - next stop - Greece! For me, "home" is wherever I find my kids, my dogs, and a warm cup of coffee.

Vanessa Mae

One of my "homes" is also Wisconsin where I was born. Like my mom, my background also provided a great deal of real-world education. I graduated high school in El Salvador and earned my B.S. at Florida State University, but I have never known any other lifestyle besides one related to the government. I guess it is no surprise that I was inspired to pursue my own military career. I earned a commission in the Air Force, and I currently serve as a Logistics Readiness Officer.


My diverse background shows that I'm the quintessential military kid. My varied experiences definitely developed my personality into the "cheese

head," ski-loving beach bum I am. Resiliency and confidence aren't just buzz words I learned from being a "military brat" and "Third Culture Kid." I jump at every opportunity, whether it’s attending flight school and earning my private pilot’s license or traveling to see my family whenever I can - if only for 24 hours. I plan to one day attend cosmetology school and pursue my love for special effects makeup.

My commitment to the KICB community is unwavering. My goal as Director of Operations is to employ my credibility and empathy to recognize the indirect service of military and government service child family members.

Vanessa Promise nametape edit.png

Paige Madison

I might be following in my mom's and sister's footsteps, but I like to think that I am definitely paving my own way. Born in Wisconsin and graduating high school in Virginia, I currently attend Florida State University where I study Criminology and Business and Aerospace Studies. My parents' government work inspired me to pursue a commission through Air Force ROTC, and I plan to graduate in the Spring of 2024 and join the Reserves.


As KICB Director of Content Creation, I apply the communication and flexibility skills I mastered as being the "new kid" throughout my education - especially high school when I attended four schools in four years. I know that the best way to incorporate myself in a community is by doing the hard stuff like volunteering and trying new things like competing on a Knowledge Bowl team at a bilingual school or the national Salvadoran gymnastics team.

My ability to try anything has led me to pursue varied interests in my off time from modeling, to flying planes, to running half marathons. My upbringing has given me the confidence and passion to explore new cities, foods, and experiences on a whim. Whether it’s throwing on a jersey to cheer on Tampa during the Super Bowl, slipping on cowgirl boots to dance in Nashville, throwing on beads to explore New Orleans, or putting on a suit to network with policymakers in Washington D.C., I am constantly open to new experiences and I'm happy to include everyone in on my next adventure.


"There are two things we do really well: Serve and Support."

Our Inspiration

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