Getting Personal: Seamstress helps troops on the mend
January 16, 2008
Ever break an arm or a leg and try to put on a shirt or pair of pants? If so, you might understand the kind of discomfort that Laurie Miller and other volunteers are trying to alleviate for wounded troops coming through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
Miller and other volunteers run the local branch of Sew Much Comfort, a group that alters shirts, boxer shorts and other clothing so that injured servicemembers have a viable fashion option outside those papery hospital gowns. They’ll take a shirt, cut it down the side and attach Velcro, making it easier for the wounded to dress themselves. The local branch started in September.
Miller and her Sew Much Comfort compatriots meet twice a month.
How did this group get started?
It started at Wilford Hall Medical Center in Texas, with a little boy who had cancer in his leg. His mother made him some boxer shorts with Velcro so he could get around that leg fixator. Some wounded soldiers saw it and asked “Can you make me a pair?” It just sort of got off the ground that way. It’s a huge organization stateside and has just started coming to the hospitals overseas.
How many people are involved locally?
We have about eight to 10 who come regularly. Some who come don’t have to sew. We need people to cut and iron. One lady comes every time and brings goodies for the group. It’s not just for people who sew.
How’d you get involved?
This wife brought it back to our commander spouse group. I’m an occupational therapist, and we adapt things people do every day of their lives. And I like to sew. We also had a big clothing drive in the chapel to get out the word.
So what kind of alterations do you make to clothing before it heads to those who need it?
A lot of (injured troops) have neck bracers or stabilizers, so they can’t get shirts over their necks, or they’ll have fixators on their legs. It’s to help them with their dignity and give them a bit of normalcy.
How long do these alterations take?
We alter boxer shorts, T-shirts and polo shirts. We also make lounge pants. The boxers take about 40 minutes apiece. Shirts take quite a bit longer. We have to follow a specific way of adapting them. They have to go to a quality control place first [within the organization]. It’s not quite that easy.
What’s your seamstress history?
I’ve sewed for a long time and I love to quilt.
So you’ve got the clothes and supplies. You are just looking for manpower now?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I hate being the one getting accolades. There are so many people working behind the scenes. There was one person who was instrumental in getting the word out.
Would you like to give that person a shout out?
Shout out to Teri Moseley! For more information on the group, log on to www.sewmuchcomfort.org, or e-mail Laurie Miller locally at firstname.lastname@example.org.