We believe serving our country is a family affair, and we aim to fully recognize our youngest servicemembers' contributions and to tell their stories.
The founders of Kids in Combat Boots have plenty of stories about their experiences being family members of someone who was active in the military, but the one which inspired the creation of KICB, was that of an Vanessa's emergency evacuation from a foreign country due to a medical need. When that happened, not only did their she experience fear, but also a sense of loneliness. She felt like her family were the only ones in the world to go through this experience and didn’t feel like there was anyone else to talk to who would fully understand.
Upon research, Deanne and her daughters learned that there were over 1.5 million children of Active Duty Soldiers/ National Guard and Reserve, with 58% of them between the ages of 6-18. Knowing that they weren’t alone and that there are so many young people out there potentially feeling similarly pushed them to create the community they wanted so desperately during that hardship. They wanted to create a “hometown” through a website and program, which anyone can join, to share their stories, build camaraderie, and get recognized for their service. Children who experience regular displacement and struggle with their identity can now share those experiences with people who understand and have access to resources which make these experiences just a little easier.
Meet the Team
KICB co-founders are a military family. Vanessa Mae and Paige Madison were raised as military children before embarking on their own military careers. Deanne, served active duty, as a reservist, and then as a military and foreign service spouse while parenting four children. Their commitment to this community is unwavering and they have the experience, credibility, and sensitivity to further the KICB mission of caring for and recognizing military children.
Prior to joining the military, Deanne grew up in the northwoods of Wisconsin. From cleaning teeth at Little Rock Air Force Base to flying with the Blue Angels in Fat Albert (the team’s C-130 aircraft), she loved serving in the Air Force and all the adventures it provided.
After earning her B.A. from University of Wisconsin, obtaining her Masters Degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University, she’s actively pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Development.
She still loves taking as many adventures as she can, whether it's visiting her friends and visiting friends around the world, including Honduras, Ecuador, and - next stop! - Greece.
Born in Wisconsin, graduating high school in El Salvador, and earning her B.S. at Florida State University, Vanessa has never known any other lifestyle besides one of a government employee. This inspired her to embark on her own military career, earning a commission and is currently a Logistics Readiness Officer in the United States Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base.
Vanessa recognizes herself as a cheese head who loves to ski while simultaneously describing herself as a beach bum, the epitome of what it means to be a military kid. She jumps at every opportunity, whether it’s attending flight school and earning her private pilot’s license, or traveling to see her family whenever she can. She one day plans to attend cosmetology school and pursue her love for special effects makeup.
Born in Wisconsin and graduating high school from Virginia, Paige currently attends Florida State University studying Criminology and minoring in Business and Aerospace Studies. Her parents’ government work inspired her to pursue a commission through Air Force R.O.T.C., and will graduate come Spring of 2024.
Paige has a wide variety of interests, from modeling, to flying planes, to running half marathons. Paige is the definition of spontaneous, and is always exploring new cities on a whim. Whether it’s throwing on a jersey to cheer on Tampa during the Superbowl, to slipping on cowgirl boots to dance in Nashville, to throwing on beads to explore New Orleans - Paige is constantly looking for a new experience to be had.