Most people reach for their nicest clothes when dressing for a funeral. But back in 2010, when Star Lotta attended the funeral of her cousin Jimmy, a Marine Corps veteran who returned from service suffering from PTSD and died of a heart attack at the young age of 23, she noticed that the veterans in attendance weren’t wearing suits.
This stuck Lotta as unusual and she wondered if it was because they couldn’t afford the formal clothing, which can be quite costly. Coincidentally, Lotta ran a business selling custom-made suits, so she started asking her clients if they had old suits they no longer wanted that they could donate to veterans. Soon, Suiting Veterans — a non-profit in Wilmington, Delaware that outfits veterans for job interviews in donated business suits and stylish dress clothes for women — was born.
Retiree Jack Doyle, who has worked as an Army finance clerk and as a men’s clothier at Macy’s, volunteers with the organization. “It’s just a way of kind of giving back to guys who are serving our country,” Doyle told William H. McMichael of USA Today, “And it’s a lot more fun than working on commission.”
According to the non-profit’s website, it has gathered over 200 suits for women and 600 for men. Lotta lets veterans know about her services by visiting veterans’ job fairs. She’s received so many donations that the space where Suiting Veterans is based is virtually filled to capacity. So she has started loading suits up in a donated truck and taking them to such places as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey to meet veterans there. She’s received so many emails from veterans across the country who’d love to receive a suit that she hopes to one day expand Suiting Veterans nationwide.
We salute the success of Lotta and her army of suiting volunteers.