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‘Suits For Soldiers’ Helps Homeless Vets Get Back Into Workforce

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For hundreds of homeless veterans across the state of Minnesota, getting their hands on a nice business suit could be life changing.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans is partnering with local stock brokers for Suits for Soldiers.

“It’s much more than just a suit, it’s possible a job, it’s dignity and self-worth,” the organizations’ Nathaniel Saltz said.

It’s an effort to collect gently used suits to help veterans in need get back into the workforce.

Chris Hvinden served in the Marine Corp for eight years.

“9/11 happened and I enlisted right away,” Hvinden said.

He helped with the recovery of Hurricane Katrina and served in Africa and in Iraq, in the War on Terrorism.

“It gave me a real sense of accomplishment,” Hvinden said.

Since he came home in 2010, he’s struggled to find a new path in life.

“Even my first year, I had trouble holding a job and a relationship,” Hvinden said.

At 33, he’s working to turn things around. He has an 8-year-old son, Christian, and is living in transitional housing.

Hvinden works part-time as a personal trainer and is actively looking for a full-time job.

“Just taking one day at a time, trying to plan out for the future, and be a good role model for my son,” Hvinden said.

Local stock brokers are hoping to help give veterans like Hvinden an edge.

Suit drives are happening throughout the Twin Cities at brokerage firms like RBC Wealth Management.

Tailor Judd Frost out of Wayzata is volunteering his services.

“They come back and they need some help, and what better way than to have them get a great suit and gain confidence, have a it fit them correctly, we want to take care of them,” Frost said. “They’ve sacrificed a lot for us, so this is the least we can do for them.”

Hvinden has seen some of the donations come in.

“Definitely from the look of those suits, it would definitely give me a sense of confidence walking into an interview,” Hvinden said.

He’s grateful for the help and hoping it will get him one step close to making his dreams a reality.

“Eventually get to own a house and live the American dream,” Hvinden said.

Suits for soldiers was organized by Principal Financial Group. More suit drives are taking place throughout the state.

For more information on the efforts to help local veterans contact Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.

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