On the eve of Veteran’s Day, JCPenney and a group of veterans are launching a unique campaign to help those who’ve served our country. The goal: Switch out the combat boots for bespoke suits.
At a New York City fashion show late last month, members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) modeled the latest looks from JCPenney’s Matters of Style collection. The event was part of the “Welcome Heroes” initiative, which will give away more than $1 million worth of JCPenney business apparel to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Though the men involved have fought through harrowing situations, posing on a runway wasn’t exactly easy.
“I was nervous as hell,” Air Force veteran Matt Colvin said at a post-show party of fashion influencers at New York’s Liberty Hall. “I hope it didn’t show. ”
Colvin, 30, joined the military on 9/11 and served two tours in Afghanistan. Now, he’s helping IAVA found Paul Rieckhoff get the word out about “Welcome Heroes.”
“It’s really changing people’s lives,” Rieckhoff said. ”We think this is going to be a game changer, especially for veterans who are looking to get back into the workforce. A lot of the men and women coming home, they haven’t worn anything but a uniform for years. When times are tough, these are the types of things that really do matter.”
Rieckhoff served as an Army First Lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in Iraq. A fashion expert, he is not, but he found himself offering Colvin a bit of advice before the Air Force vet hit the runway.
“He was really nervous,” Rieckhoff said. “I said, ‘Hey, it’s easier than getting shot at.’”