Suits for soldiers

Suits for soldiers
Insurance agency partners with veterans’ groups to provide complimentary suits to veterans and active military
By Charlotte Beard
It can take a lot of adjustment for both active military and veterans to become fully acclimated back into civil society. That is why for the second year the Greg Mans Farmers Insurance Agency is partnering with American Legion – Post 397 and H.E.R.O.E.S. Care for their 500 Suits for 500 Soldiers campaign.
However, this year insurance agent Greg Mans and his wife Lois shared that they have secured 750 suits for the event. The event will take place March 31 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Greg Mans Farmers Insurance Agency located at 9335 Gravois Road, Suite C, in St. Louis. Complimentary suits, shoes, shirts and ties will be given to St. Louis area veterans and active military to help make their transitions easier. Spouses are invited to accompany a veteran to this event and will receive the opportunity for complimentary clothing as well.
Men and women will check in with a DD 214, active or retired military identification, or a show of their American Legion or VFW membership. Each person will be assigned a “battle buddy” to help size them for the appropriate suit and assist in matching the appropriate tie for their selected suit. The “battle buddy” will also escort them to the area for getting properly fitted for a shirt followed by shoes.
“We will have police here [and] firemen because some of those guys will act as battle buddies,” Greg stated.
Lois went on to explain for readers that the idea of ‘battle buddies’ to escort the men and women attending the event comes from the idea that when a soldier is in battle they are assigned a mate for protection of each other.
“That’s part of what we’re trying to do—give one-on-one services to all the veterans and [existing military] that are coming in.”
“Last year we had about 20 volunteers,” stated Lois. “I’m thinking this year we will probably be closer to 40, which we’ll need it. We want this event to be even bigger than last year.”
People are invited to volunteer to be a ‘battle buddy’ during the event by calling Lois at 314-638-8890.
Having been through the process of hosting the event for the first-time last year, the Mans have great plans for making the event enjoyable and successful for servicemen and women.
“Our plan is to have a seamstress here”, Greg said, referring to those who may need hemming for the suit pants. “So, while [the recipient] walks around [Arena Alterations] can do it. She gives us a big discount for using her services. She’s local. We will have counselors and [other resources] here [for those who] need any help, employment…we can help them with that as well.”
Veteran Affairs’ outreach will also be one of those resources in attendance.
Servicemen and women, along with their spouses, can expect to enjoy food in the morning courtesy of Panera Bread and Pretzel Pretzel will be handing out pretzels throughout the event.
“Outside we’re going to have a tent,” stated Lois. “It’s going to be a big event. [We will] have hamburgers and hotdogs, bottled water, soda, chips. We’re going to have a DJ and we [will have] mobile salon haircutting that is the first mobile salon in Missouri. [The Clipper Mobile Salon] is insured and she’s also our client. She’s donating her service; we’re sponsoring her to donate [this service].”
Lois went on to share that there will be two chairs available at one time for free haircuts. A barber will be brought in to assist the Mobile Salon.
Women soldiers and veterans will be getting vouchers for five pieces of clothing. Women are required to set up an appointment with the organization that will be announced closer to the event. All female spouses are given the opportunity to receive a voucher and male spouses can receive a suit.
“We’re not leaving anybody out,” assured Lois. “[The spouses are] their backbone. H.E.R.O.E.S. Care [states] that is the backbone of the person being deployed. They need [support] too.”
The idea for giving suits to soldiers and veterans originated two years ago when Farmers Insurance was asking its agencies to obtain suits in good condition to be donated to those who have served in the military.
The Mans’ agency decided to take it a step further after they became affiliated with American Legion – Post 397, a wartime veterans’ service organization. This connection tied them to H.E.R.O.E.S. Care’s initiatives. H.E.R.O.E.S., an affiliation of program partners that provide support to military families, donates the shirts, ties, suits and shoes to the legion. H.E.R.O.E.S. receives these donated items from Men’s Wearhouse.
“Last year…I think people thought it was just too good to be true,” shared Greg. “They thought it might have been old used suits. When they got here [you heard], ‘Wow this is…’ When they get [quality] shoes, shirt, tie and a suit [that’s] within anywhere from $800 to $1,500 in product, that’s not a bad gig.”
“We had one gentleman—he came from North County,” Lois added. “He took five buses and walked a mile with a cane to get a suit.” Greg chimed in, “We gave him a ride home.”
“We want to help these veterans,” stressed Lois. “It doesn’t matter where you live—if you can get here we’ll give you a suit.”
The Mans would love to secure the donation of a bus to transport veterans and active military who need help getting to the event from a designated pickup location at the American Legion in Creve Coeur. That initiative is still pending as of the time of this interview.
A variety of volunteer opportunities are available prior to the day of the event including de-tagging at H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. If you would like to get involved in any way, including for the day of the event, please contact Lois Mans at 314-638-8890. For other information you may also visit their Facebook page: