This Nonprofit Gives Free Suits to Transitioning Service Members

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(Save A Suit)

Sometimes, landing that first post-military job requires more than just the skills to do the job -- you also have to look the part.

The U.S. military teaches its members a lot about the proper wear of professional attire -- how to tie a necktie, how to wear a jacket, and, of course, how to get rid of those unsightly strings leftover from the manufacturing process.

But there's also a lot the military doesn't teach about civilian business wear, such as which buttons to keep buttoned on a jacket, and when to leave the jacket home.

First, though, soon-to-be civilians need to get a suit. And not everyone knows how, or can even afford one.

That's where Save A Suit comes in.

The nonprofit organization started in 2009, when founder and chairman Scott Sokolowski was interviewing a veteran candidate who showed up without proper attire. When Sokolowski asked him why he wasn't wearing a suit, the veteran responded that he couldn't afford one.

Sokolowski is not only an Air Force veteran, he's also the son of a U.S. Navy sailor and the grandson of a Coast Guardsman, so helping veterans transition to a professional civilian life is close to his heart.

"We work with the community to clean out their closets," Sokolowski told WTNH, the New Haven, Connecticut ABC affiliate. "We give business suits, professional attire and other resources to our veterans and service members who transition from the military back to a civilian job."

 

You don't have to be local to get a suit from Save A Suit. With its "Ship A Suit" program, you can request a suit online from the 501(c)3 nonprofit. Just give the organization some basic information and proof of honorable service. Then, visit a tailor to get your jacket, shirt and pant sizes and a suit will be fitted and shipped to an eligible veteran.

"Not only do we want them looking good, we want them feeling good," Sokolowski said. "When you put a nice suit on them, they give us a nice smile and a thumbs up."

With millions unemployed due to the global pandemic and an estimated 200,000 service members leaving the military every year, veterans need all the help they can get in a tight job market.

For nonveterans who want to help with veteran employment, Save A Suit also has a eBay store for anyone interested in purchasing luxury professional attire, often at steep discounts. An overwhelming 97% of proceeds from the store's sales go toward putting vets in suits.

"With everything going on, it can get a little negative. It's trying times right now," Sokolowski said. "The suit is a gateway to feeling better, getting a fresh start."

To learn more about Save A Suit or to request a suit (or other professional wear), visit the Save A Suit website.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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