Guards Down Podcast

Greg Washington and Jas Boothe: Sanctuary

I had the pleasure of talking with entrepreneur, speaker, and US army veteran, Jas Boothe.

Let’s dive into Jas’ story of how learning to accept things as they are, will help you in dealing and coping with even the most difficult experiences in life. 

Things you will learn in this episode:

[00:01 – 05:07] Opening Segment

Jas talks about her background and how her journey began

Played basketball for Mississippi Valley State University

Studied mass communications in college before entering the army

[05:08 – 18:29] Dealing with Trauma and Grief

Jas talks about her trauma and grief

Diagnosed with cancer

Jas shares growing up dealing with trauma and cultural differences when it comes to coping 

Jas talks about how she coped with the trauma

Jas shares some words of wisdom that helped her move on 

[18:30 – 27:24] Putting on a Happy Face

Jas talks about the changes in her life caused by the trauma

Jas gives some great advice that you don’t want to miss!

Quick shoutout to our Facebook Page

I talked about a story with a friend

[27:25 – 35:00] Police Yourself First

Jas talks about the toughest part of her journey

Managing her mental health, her family, and being an entrepreneur

Making amends with the people you hurt

Jas talks about getting professional help and how it’s been so far

[35:01 – 41:08] Culturally Sensitive Therapy

Choosing the right counselor that works for you

May it be by race, gender, etc.

Jas talks about her growth from all of her experiences

Advice that Jas would give to herself and her kids about dealing with trauma and grief

[41:09 – 45:06] Closing Segment

Jas talks about efforts her company is pushing through currently

Final words of encouragement from Jas

A Life of Hope

Jas grew up in Chicago projects where she learned to be tough and hope for a better future. After getting a BA in Mass Communications from Mississippi Valley State University, Jas wanted to be a reporter, but she was told that she was too tall for the job. As a single mom, she had to find a way to give herself and her young son a wonderful life. She made a living as a truck driver for a while and then transitioned into the human resources field, getting dual MAs in Human Resource Management and Management and Leadership from Webster University. Eventually, she joined the Army Reserves, but 30 days before she was to be deployed to Iraq, Jas was diagnosed with head, neck, and throat cancer. Just a month before her diagnosis, hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and Jas’s home was destroyed. With two tragedies colliding and having to provide for her son, Jas found herself looking for support, but nothing out there was available for female veterans and their children.

After rigorous cancer treatment that left her with long-term side-effects, she became well enough to take on a new job with the Army National Guard. However, she never forgot about her struggle and the lack of support that made her recovery more difficult. Consequently, in 2010, Jas established Final Salute Inc. to help her fellow veteran women and their children overcome obstacles such as job loss, homelessness, and financial difficulties. Now a mother to two boys and a wife to a veteran, Jas continues to share her light and talents as a business owner, filmmaker, and comedian.

Silent Demons

After Jas’s recovery from cancer, she faced many difficulties with army leadership that didn’t understand why she was feeling sad and depressed, even though her cancer was gone. Her colleagues had known her as the life-of-the-party, happy person who attracted people to her with a sunny disposition. Because Jas didn’t have any visible physical injuries, she was not able to get the support she needed for the trauma and the “silent demons” she was dealing with.


In the black community, talking about mental health is taboo and people don’t seek help because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Jas’s way of exhibiting signs of trauma and grief was to isolate herself. Since she didn’t feel like pretending to be her former happy self, she started to avoid people who noticed her somber demeanor. She stopped playing basketball, a sport that she loved since her youth, and no longer enjoyed the things that used to cheer her up.

Learning to Cope

As a very spiritual person, Jas’s primary coping mechanism was to hope for a better future because “today is so shitty that tomorrow can’t get any worse.” She tried to do something fun every day like watching a funny movie, so that she could turn each day around with laughter. Negativity seemed to naturally pass as she focused on the positive aspects of her life.

From her own experience, Jas has some advice on how others could support veterans and people dealing with trauma symptoms. There is no need to make a huge gesture to help people who are suffering – instead, Jas believes that sitting quietly and observing people’s behavior for clues of what they need is the best way to support them. All we have to do is listen and, once people are ready, they will start talking about their experiences. If everything else fails, we can look for commonalities rather than differences between us and others we desire to help and start connecting from there.

Acceptance before Healing

To start truly healing from trauma and grief, Jas believes that acceptance of how we are feeling, taking all the symptoms seriously, and seeking treatment that suits us are essential steps to recovery. Creating a sanctuary, a safe and calm space for her to relax and do her work, helped Jas take control over how she feels on a daily basis. Jas believes that getting help from others was a game-changer on her healing journey. She chose to speak with a counselor that understood her not only as a veteran, but also as a wife, mom, and woman. She felt that women tend to understand other women better and that choosing a female counselor made her feel much more comfortable and freer to open up.

To be able to help others, Jas makes sure to take care of herself first. As a mom, wife, business owner, and entrepreneur who still has to maintain her own mental health wellness, she doesn’t believe in a work-life balance, because life cannot be controlled so tightly. Rather, she is completely present in the moment with the task at hand or the person she is interacting with. Staying true to herself by learning to say “no” is another way she empowers herself and others. As she likes to say, “don’t spend your life trying to become someone people are comfortable with.”

A Woman that Knows her Worth

With everything that she went through, Jas urges all of us to recognize our capabilities and to let them shine through during our process of recovery. Despite suffering from depression, cognitive decline, and other symptoms because of her cancer treatment, she has been able to run multiple businesses and creative projects and is still a present and loving mom and wife. As she puts it, “I am very happy with the woman, the human being, I turned out to be.”

Are you ready to find ways to overcome your anxiety, grief, or trauma? Reach out to one of our culturally-sensitive trained coaches and counselors who you can relate to, and who can recommend effective, alternative solutions for your specific needs!

You can listen to the full episode on YouTube here.

You can connect with Jas on her personal website or company website.

 Tweetable Quotes:

“I did it for hope; to let people know that it does get better. Sometimes it may take hours, it may take days, but it does get better.” – Jas Boothe

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