Americans are very vocal on the subject of supporting our troops. Our heroes risk everything to advance American interests abroad and ensure that the fight doesn’t come to our shores. No one will argue the importance of supporting our troops; however, it’s important to recognize that returning veterans are the ones who need our support the most.
These men and women often suffer severe mental and physical injuries, making readjustment to civilian life extremely difficult. Unfortunately, government programs can’t provide all the necessary help — it’s up to civilians to stand up for our veterans as they’ve stood up for us.
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In the UK, at least one person is using her skills to help British soldiers readjust to society. Emma Wallis, already well known for her top-quality bespoke shirts, has been making dress shirts for veterans of the British Armed Forces since 2007. Wallis’ initiative, called “Style for Soldiers,” has provided hundreds of veterans with bespoke shirts. Thanks to the support of Marks & Spencer, Style for Soldiers has also provided veterans with tailored suits.
Though we might see the battlefield as the quintessential proving ground for courage, many veterans feel equally distressed by the prospect of returning to normal society. A bespoke suit, which is beyond most people’s budget, can help provide a soldier with a huge confidence boost in various social and professional situations — a job interview, for example.
Wallis’ Gloucester factory doesn’t just provide soldiers with bespoke menswear, but also elegant hand-carved ebony walking sticks for wounded veterans who have trouble walking. Just a few weeks ago, Wallis hosted the annual Style for Soldiers Christmas Party, where many of the veterans had an opportunity to show off their fancy duds.
While British veterans have many problems of their own, American veterans have it much worse. According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for American veterans deployed after 2001 was 7.2% in 2014 — more than a full percentage point above the average for all Americans. Hundreds of thousands of veterans still can’t get adequate healthcare, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 47,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.
Though there are plenty of American organizations and initiatives that honor and support veterans, there are never enough. By shining a light on veteran-based initiatives — whether they’re based here or across the pond — we seek to encourage further involvement in veteran affairs.
If you’re reading this in the UK, we encourage you to donate funds to Style for Soldiers. If you’re in the USA or elsewhere, find a veteran-based initiative you believe in and lend your support. Veterans would do the same for you — and in fact, they already have.
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