The transition from veteran to civilian is not always an easy one. According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), approximately 200,000 service members transition from military service to civilian life each year.
One of the biggest challenges? Finding employment.
While federal law requires government agencies like the DOD to establish employment assistance centers, veterans are still left behind when it comes to acquiring new job skills, building confidence, and starting a new life mission.
Meet Save A Suit. Led by executive director Alex Carerra, this nonprofit provides veterans with proper work attire so they can enter the workforce with confidence.
Carerra started volunteering with Save A Suit in 2010 and took over as the organization’s president in 2021.
“I saw so much need in the veteran community that I knew I needed to get more involved,” Carerra said in an email to Good Good Good. “My cousin is currently serving, so this is something that is near and dear to my heart.”
How does Save A Suit work?
Save A Suit operates as a store on eBay and at free distribution events across the country.
Here’s how it works: Save A Suit collects clothing donations from community members, examines each donation to ensure vets get the best of the best, and any item that isn’t in tip-top condition is placed on the organization’s eBay commerce store.
(They don’t just offer suits; there are items of all kinds for veterans of all genders!)
Anyone browsing the website can shop these preloved items, which raises funds for the veteran’s program. Folks can thrift their formalwear, and any eBay purchase goes right back into shipping clothing to veterans in need.
The national shipping program reaches veterans who request a suit, no matter where they are in the country.
“We have shipped as far as Hawaii and even the North Pole, Alaska,” Carerra said. “No veteran is too far for us.”
eBay purchases also help the organization host distribution events regionally.
These “suiting events,” as Carerra calls them, are something of a “pop-up shop where everything is free for veterans.”
They can come try on pieces, pick out a full outfit, get professional headshots, and access additional resources from Save A Suit and other partner organizations.
“This is not just a suit,” Army Veteran Marquis M. shares in a testimonial on the organization’s website. “It’s a fighting chance.”
Over the years, over 9,000 pounds of clothing have been donated, and over 5,000 veterans have been supported.
“There is nothing as rewarding as seeing the happy face of a veteran, once they see how amazing they look in their suit,” Carerra said.
“At a high level, the suit symbolizes their potential and it also symbolizes our promise that we are there for veterans when they return; we care for them.”
Why is this good news?
While veterans are shown support and admiration in some ways, they are often neglected by federal programs. Initiatives like Save A Suit provide an avenue for support, giving veterans a renewed sense of hope, purpose, and economic security.
(Not to mention, the model of Save A Suit also reduces textile waste and helps elongate the lifespan of perfectly good clothing.)
When only one in four veterans has job prospects lined up at the time their military careers end, gaining the skills, resources, and confidence to find meaningful employment makes a world of difference.
“Veterans are used to being in uniform, and many consider a suit or professional clothing the uniform for the professional world,” Carerra said.
“We outfit veterans in professional attire to bring out their inner greatness.”