More is discovered every day about the issues that veterans face when they return from service. That topic hit especially close to home for Star Lotta when her cousin left the Marine Corps after five years. She says he was suffering from a number of issues when, after being separated from the military for six months, he died of a heart attack in his sleep. At the funeral, Lotta noticed that not one of her cousin’s former Marine buddies was wearing dress blues. These 20-somethings said they had turned in their uniforms when they left the military because they didn’t own them. “Some didn’t have a car,” says Lotta, of Wilmington. “They had to wait for their benefit money to come in. It takes over a year. My aunt and uncle purchased dress blues for my cousin to wear for burial.” Inspired to help vets transition back into civilian life, Lotta established the Suiting Warriors fund through the Delaware Community Foundation. The idea is to empower vets who don’t have jobs by giving them professional clothing to wear on interviews. Lotta has held drives to accept donated suits, sport coats, dress pants and ties for male veterans, and suits, dresses, skirts and blazers for female vets. Once Lotta collects 500 suits, she’ll hold an event to distribute clothing to vets in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In the meantime, she’ll hold fundraisers to cover expenses such as printing informational fliers and gas needed for the vehicle that tows a donated trailer used to haul donations. She is also searching for 1,000 square feet of storage space. For now, Lotta keeps suits on 12 racks in her apartment. The mission for Lotta is simple: “It’s all worth it if you can give one suit to a person who gets a job interview, or an opportunity to make a friend rather than go home and commit suicide.” (facebook.com/suitingwarriors)
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