Advancing National Service

This Nonprofit Eases the Transition to Civilian Life for Vets

March 27, 2014
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This Nonprofit Eases the Transition to Civilian Life for Vets
Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images
The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation teams with Saxon/Hart to give veterans a new look.

With all the magazines and television shows devoted to makeovers, it seems like physical transformation must be one of America’s favorite topics. Now, one non-profit is bringing the ever-popular makeover concept to some people who deserve it the most: U.S. Veterans.

The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation works with low- and middle-income families in Brooklyn, New York, providing them with a variety of services including affordable housing, foreclosure prevention, energy-saving weatherization, job-search assistance, college preparation, and art classes. One of their newest efforts is a veterans outreach program that provides makeovers and new wardrobes to former service members in an effort to help them make a successful transition to civilian life. So far they’ve served 170 veterans, with plans to help hundreds more this year.

Two participants in this program are veteran Peter Payne and his wife Ida, a married couple of 16 years. In this video, Ida explains, “In 2005 [Peter] had a major seizure and his memory was wiped away. I had to teach him how to do everything all over again.” She said the effort she put into helping him learn to bathe and recognize her and their son was worth it because, “He’s such a wonderful person, a husband like all women would love to have.”

Veteran Cedric Smith works for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in its veteran outreach programs. After his time in the Army, Smith himself experienced homelessness and unemployment. “I want to let him [Peter] know that he’s not alone, that there’s millions of us who have our addictions, who have our traumatizing experiences, and that if we don’t have each other like we would if we was on the front line, we are the walking dead,” Smith says.

Smith helped the Paynes connect with Saxon/Hart, a company that works with beauty and clothing professionals to donate their services to needy people. They outfitted Cedric in a new suit, and gave Ida the beauty treatment and makeup session that this family that served America so richly deserved.

MORE: How One Woman Helps Veterans Dress for that Oh-So-Important Interview

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