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Suited for Service

Jim Rieser loves America, appreciates our soldiers, and makes a pretty mean suit. This is year number four for the clothier’s Suits for Soldiers campaign, a program that gifts eight soldiers with custom-made suits to help them assimilate to the workforce. The requirements are simple: the veteran must have served within the last five years [...]
Aaron Wetli

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Jim Rieser loves America, appreciates our soldiers, and makes a pretty mean suit.

This is year number four for the clothier’s Suits for Soldiers campaign, a program that gifts eight soldiers with custom-made suits to help them assimilate to the workforce.

The requirements are simple: the veteran must have served within the last five years and must be an Ohio resident. This impressive program is unpretentious and helps improve the life of soldiers and their families. What have you done today to make America better?

Employed at Hunter & Lords (a nationwide custom clothing service for men) since 1999, Rieser is head of Midwestern sales, and his niche is small market/high clientele sales that is by referral only. While I can’t give you the scoop on exactly who his clients are, I can assure you that his roster is a “Who’s Who” of Columbus power brokers and high-profile celebrities.

Walking into the Short North office in shorts, sandals and t-shirt (I am an educator on summer break), I felt underdressed. Rieser felt the same and gave me some good-natured grief. He of all people realizes the power a custom-made suit has to boost confidence and morale, helping veterans return to civilian life.

How did Rieser come up with this idea? Like many of us, he does his best thinking over a cocktail.

“I was having a beverage while remembering the terrorist attacks of September 11, and realized that I had to do something to help our soldiers. Clothes is what I do best. The idea just came from that place,” he said.

Our political leaders should have whatever cocktail Rieser was imbibing that evening.

Actually, make that a double.

“I have tremendous respect for service people. They keep the bad guys where they belong.” Reiser said. And he must deeply feel that respect, as the value of eight custom suits, custom shirts, ties and shoes comes directly out of Rieser’s pocket, valued at roughly $15,000. No big deal—just the price of a brand new Ford Fiesta.

This year’s campaign started on July 4 and ends on Labor Day. The soldiers receive their suits at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Lane Avenue Panera with friends and family in attendance. “Family members seeing the suits on the backs of their loved ones is my favorite part,” says Rieser. “It is not uncommon for a tear or two to be shed. It is a really special and meaningful ceremony.”

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished and the toughest part of the campaign is choosing the winners. Last year, there were more than 120 nominations, so Rieser enlisted the assistance of his wife and son in narrowing down the list.

“Picking winners is the hardest part because all of the nominees are worthy,” he said.

Sergeant Major Kevin Colwell was nominated by wife Kelli and was a recipient of last year’s campaign. A Green Beret since 1991 (that is a long time) Colwell said the pride involved with the suit had made a major impact on him.

“Seeing what the suit looks like on, feeling what it feels like to wear it, and most importantly how confident you feel overall when dressed in custom-made clothing, is incredible. If you want to perform your best, you need to feel and look your best, and I can’t tell you how good and confident I feel when I am wearing that suit. It’s almost like I put on my Superman cape!”

On active duty for another 10 months, Colwell has pridefully worn his suit on many occasions, especially those where he is a keynote speaker at events that raise money and awareness for wounded veterans.

“I have every confidence that the suit will someday play an integral part in opening the door to the next chapter in my life, whatever it may be,” he says. A price tag on a suit can be high, but the gift of confidence is priceless.

Unfortunately, we all know that veterans face many obstacles when returning to civilian life, with hopes of finding gainful employment.

“The biggest hurdle is that the language and terminology used in the military is not the same language and terminology as used in  the civilian business world,” Colwell said. “As a result, veterans can severely harm their own job search, and salary offerings, by unknowingly underselling their knowledge, experience and accomplishment simply due to language and terminology differences.”

If the sharpest suit around can help assist in the interview process and inspire the recipient to feel like part of the civilian employment team, the suit isn’t just a combination of cotton, polyester and leather, the suit is nourishment for the soul.

“The civilian world does not replicate the military’s culture, not in the workplace, and especially not outside the workplace, so veterans lose the feeling of being a part of a close-knit team and often feel alone and lost.”

In this age of partisanship, keyboard tough guys and raging social media feuds, this is a cause we can all get behind. Whether you stand or kneel, however you vote, and whatever social issue you are passionate about, you are afforded these freedoms due to the brave men and women who fight for our right to be as menacing or as kind as we choose. We can thank Colwell for that right, and we can thank Rieser for helping make veterans’ lives less difficult. •

Do you know someone who would benefit from this campaign? If so, nominate them at hunterandlords.com/suits-for-soldiers by September 3rd.

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Arts & Culture

Virtual Experiences bring culture to our couch

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Now that we're all stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we could use some entertainment beyond hours of Netflix bingeing. And yes, Carole probably did it*

WOSU Public Media has come to the rescue by putting together a list of local, virtual experiences to enjoy from the safety and comfort of your bunker. Here's a list of just a few upcoming events ranging from music to the arts.

Sunday, March 29
Columbus Symphony’s Russian Winter Festival – The Columbus Symphony broadcasts its Russian Winter Festival ll concert, featuring masterpieces by Prokofiev, Borodin, Rimski-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky at 1 p.m. on Classical 101.

Columbus Goes Live – The Cyber Festival –  A virtual entertainment experience streaming across different pages to support local performers who are directly impacted by the critical shutdowns of venues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Join in and make history by supporting your favorite bands, comedians and performers in the Columbus area.

Why not a virtual bar?

Brewdog is even getting in on the act with its upcoming, Brewdog Online Bar. They plan to "open" for business at 6pm on Friday, March 27th. The bar plans to feature live beer tastings with our co-founders James and Martin and other beer experts, homebrew masterclasses, live music & comedy and more.

Brewdog will be sharing further details soon and a complete schedule of the events on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.

*Carole, as in this Carole.

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Philanthropy

Helping hand: Union Cafe, Axis Nightclub, Hubbard Grille Relief

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As we continue down the path of dealing with the health and economic consequences of Coronavirus, many people and organizations are going to need help if you're in a position to do so. On this page each day we will feature one local person, family or organization in need for your consideration.

If you need assistance, now might be a good time to create your own GoFundme.com page (we're not affiliated). If you know someone in need who is using a different giving platform, please send us their page for consideration to feature them here.

Union Cafe, Axis Nightclub, Hubbard Grille Relief

Employees and our friends at Union Cafe, Axis Nightclub, and Hubbard Grille have been displaced until further notice.  This campaign is to raise money to help all the hourly workers get by until they can return to work.  They have most literally put the food on our table many times, now it's our turn to help put food on theirs.  I placed a goal off a rough estimation of how many full-time employees there are at all three business and calculated a goal of a thousand per person.  I know this goal is lofty, even helping them pay a bill could go a long way. 

Columbus Artist Relief Fund

We’re raising money to help offset the financial impact felt by Columbus artists through lost work. Gig money that was going toward this month’s rent or next month's taxes, the gas bill, food. This is open to individual artists only. ALL of the funds raised will go directly to artists in central Ohio. Priority will be given to BIPOC artists, transgender & nonbinary artists, and disabled artists - but the goal is to try to help as many artists with need in Columbus as possible.

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Community

#TEAM614

614now Staff

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Now more than ever is the time to support local: the people, businesses, and organizations that help make Columbus such a great place to call home.Know a business offering curbside/delivery/takeout? Please, let us know. Know an organization that is coming together to help those in need right now or needs help themselves? Tell us!With your help, we want to share these messages because we’re all in this together. #TEAM614Stay safe, stay healthy, and together let’s support local.
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