Veterans in Lexington VA nursing home Dress Up for Dinner

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April 14, 2022
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During a clinical conference, Jessica Hatterman, a speech pathologist at the Lexington VA, started a discussion with other medical professionals. If a Veteran needs a protective cover over their clothing during meals, is there a better option than placing a standard towel over the Veteran’s shirt? It seems like a little thing, but it can rob a Veteran of their dignity and the towels don’t provide adequate protection. Was there a way to protect Veterans’ clothing and dress in a fun way?

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

Dressed up for dinner

The solution? With her husband’s dress clothes and a sewing machine, she created a functional clothing protector that allows Veterans to get dressed up and ready for meals. She brought her design to the Community Living Center. The Dress Up for Dinner Project was created to maintain the dignity of Veterans.

Community partners step up to the challenge

Dress Up for Dinner’s design was given to the Lexington VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement who partnered with civic groups like the Blue Star Mothers and medical staff to expand production of the design.

Blue Star Mothers’ member Angie Nelson is an experienced sewer. She volunteered to ensure there were enough garments so Veterans in the CLC felt dignified during meals.

The future of dressing up for dinner

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

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