By Sharon Foster, AFPSFebruary 12, 2009
WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2009 - A troop-support group that provides clothing specially adapted for wounded troops recovering in military hospitals, will roll out a new line of garments later this year.
"We are working on wheelchair garments and halo shirts," Michele Cuppy, president of Sew Much Comfort, said. "We are also working on dress pants that will look more like off-the-rack pants. With the talented seamstresses we have, we will be taking special requests for these items."
Since 2004, Sew Much Comfort, based in Burnsville, Minn., has provided adaptive clothing and comfort accessories to injured servicemembers throughout the United States, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. The clothing, made using fabric-fastener openings, allows injured servicemembers to dress themselves easily and provides ready access to the injury or wound area by the servicemember, medical staff or family.
In 2006, Sew Much Comfort volunteers received top honors from the "Newman's Own Awards" program and were invited to the White House by then-President George W. Bush.
The groups' major focus this year is to incorporate wheelchair and dress pants garments into their clothing line, as well as to become more "visible and available" at all the major military hospitals across the world, Cuppy said.
"We want to make sure, no matter what the wound or injury is, troops know that there is clothing available for them," she said. "We believe these new garments will allow injured servicemembers to easily dress themselves and feel more comfortable in public. All garments appear as normal civilian attire, which makes possible a more natural and comfortable recovery."
Lisa Schroeder of Beaumont, Calif., whose son, Army Sgt. Christopher Schroeder, broke his arm in Iraq, said she was very pleased with the clothing her son received last year.
"Our son broke his right elbow and left wrist in Iraq and was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for surgeries," Schroeder said. "My worries were for his recovery and how soon we could arrive to help him. We had no time to think of practicalities like clothing. Sew Much Comfort adaptive shirts were one of the biggest blessings for him. He wanted some 'real' shirts to wear while recovering, and we were so happy when someone brought the care package of shirts to his room."
With the help of more than 1,500 volunteer seamstresses, Sew Much Comfort made nearly 30,000 pieces of adaptive clothing and comfort accessories last year. Cuppy said the program's seamstresses are the driving force behind her organization.
Sew Much Comfort volunteers include ambassadors who deliver the clothing to the hospitals. Medical personnel also call and request clothing to be sent to them, Cuppy noted. This year, Sew Much Comfort has added an online order form on its Web site so servicemembers can order clothing directly.
"With our distribution facility, we are able to grab from the shelves and ship in two to three days," Cuppy said.