America Supports You: Group Finds Low-Tech Solution to Pressing Problem
By Ensign John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2006 A group of American seamstresses is working to apply an old-fashioned skill -- sewing -- to help today’s wounded veterans.
The nonprofit group “Sew Much Comfort” includes more than 2,000 people who sew specially made clothing for wounded servicemembers, who often find clothing off the rack doesn’t accommodate a variety of medical devices.
Sew Much Comfort is a member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which highlights grassroots and corporate efforts to support U.S. troops and their families. Several of the groups set up tables at the end of the America Supports You Freedom Walk here yesterday to provide information on their efforts.
“Right now, we have over 2,000 (volunteers) sewing all over the country,” said Mindy Brubaker. “We are providing adaptive clothing to all of the hospitals where there are soldiers coming in for treatment.”
Brubaker, of Alexandria, Va., and other members of her group participated in last night’s Freedom Walk remembrance at the Pentagon. Every week, Brubaker meets with six to 15 of her neighbors -- men and women -- to sew and package custom-made adaptive clothing for injured servicemembers.
This service is especially important today, when soldiers are surviving attacks that in previous wars would have been fatal. More troops survive wounds today than in any other conflict.
More veterans, many of them amputees, are returning home with serious injuries that require long-term medical care. This treatment often involves prostheses, fixators, halos and other medical devices that can make wearing normal clothing difficult, if not impossible.
“So until they get our clothing,” Brubaker said, “they’re pretty well stuck in their hospital beds, with their hospital gown on. Our mission is to provide servicemembers with comfortable clothing that allows them more independence, comfort and dignity as they recuperate,” she added.
Sew Much Comfort modifies some clothes and makes other pieces from scratch, most with side seams closed with fabric fasteners to make the garments easier to get into and out of.
Sew Much Comfort has liaisons in many military hospitals and works primarily through military physical therapy departments, Brubaker said. However, returning war vets don’t usually embark on physical therapy immediately after entering a hospital, she noted, adding that the group would like to initiate contact with the injured troops earlier, so they can take advantage of this service earlier.
Servicemembers in need of adaptive clothing can go to the groups Web site and submit requests with their sizes and special needs. Brubaker said the clothing the group provides is free to the servicemembers.
Sew Much Comfort was founded in 2005 by Ginger Dosedel, an Army wife who learned to sew when her young son was stricken with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy treatment. Dosedel sewed adaptive clothing for her son so he could dress in normal clothing and feel more like a regular kid.
The family was visiting injured soldiers in a local military hospital when the son noticed that the soldiers were wearing gowns fitted over bulky medical devices and asked his mom if she could make clothing for them, too.
Sew Much Comfort “is a great organization, and it’s growing everyday,” Brubaker said. “We’ve gotten so organized (that) we now have regional coordinators who are making sure we’re not duplicating orders to different hospitals. It’s very cool.”