Suit Up Program Helps Transitioning Vets in Central Georgia

vet 300x200Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA (Macon) has entered a partnership with the Aiken Warrior Project of Aiken, SC, to help student veterans look their best when transitioning to the private workforce. The two organizations announced the launch of the Suit Up for Veterans initiative during a press conference at Aiken Technical College.

“Student veterans possess the work ethic, skills and education that many employers are looking for, but they may have some transitional needs that make it difficult for them to purchase professional attire for job interviews,” said Aiken Warrior Project education advocate Larry Millstead.

For the Suit Up program, the Aiken Tech Student Veterans Association has placed donation bins throughout the school’s campus. Goodwill will donate five vouchers through its Good Samaritan program to the Aiken Warrior Project for each full bin the school collects. The school will then distribute those vouchers to student veterans who are seeking employment or attending job fairs. They can then exchange each voucher for five items of clothing, free of charge, from any Goodwill store in the CSRA.

To be able to receive the vouchers, student veterans must demonstrate need, have a strong grade-point average and complete Aiken Technical College’s professionalism lecture series offered through its Student Development Division.

The Suit Up for Veterans program was created because of Steven Waller, president of the Aiken Technical College Student Veterans Association, and Joel Wightman, the association’s vice president, according to Millstead.

“They were looking for a way to assist other student veterans on campus who were in need of business and professional attire for job interviews, career fairs and other things of that nature,” Millstead said. “Instead of depending on people to donate suits, I thought about what could be done from a collaboration standpoint within the community to make sure that it happened. Then I talked to Jennifer Hart at the Goodwill in Aiken about it.” From those conversations, Suit Up for Veterans was born.

“This partnership will assist student veterans in their transition while the donations will help others in our community by providing materials that fuel Goodwill’s job training and career development services,” said Hart, who is the Goodwill’s Aiken community director.