Lexington VA retirement home veterans dress up for dinner

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At a clinical conference, Jessica Hatterman, a speech-language pathologist at Lexington VA, struck up a discussion with other healthcare professionals. If a Veteran needs a protective cover over their clothes during meals, is there a better option than placing a standard towel over the Veteran’s shirt? It seems like a small thing, but it can rob a veteran of their dignity, and towels don’t provide adequate protection. Was there a way to protect veterans’ clothes and outfits in a fun way?

Hatterman continued to brainstorm a solution. She looked to blogs for inspiration. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) communities have had several ideas. Luckily, her husband had started working from home and no longer needed many of his dress shirts.

Dressed up for dinner

The solution? Using her husband’s formal wear and a sewing machine, she created a functional garment guard that allows veterans to dress and prepare for meals. She brought her design to the Community Life Center. The Dress Up for Dinner project was created to maintain the dignity of veterans.

Community partners rise to the challenge

The design of Dress Up for Dinner was entrusted to the Lexington VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement, which partnered with civic groups like the Blue Star Mothers and medical personnel to expand production of the design.

Blue Star Mothers member Angie Nelson is an experienced seamstress. She volunteered to make sure there was enough clothing for CLC veterans to feel dignified during meals.

The future of dressing for dinner

Hatterman hopes the project will continue to grow and expand beyond the Community Life Center. “By turning a dress shirt into a clothing protector, we can create something functional and fun that allows our veterans to dress up,” she said.