Donate now: Veteran startup wants to recycle uniforms, share stories

By Audrey Ingram

Will Romes is working to help fellow veterans transition to civilian life by helping their uniforms make that same transition. His new company, Eighth Order, will take donated uniforms from retired veterans and repattern them into new oxford-style cotton shirts. There’s currently a Kickstarter to get the company up and running.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Romes wasn’t ready to retire at age 38.

“In military life, there are stage gates,” he explained. “Goals are easily achievable if you follow the path laid out.”

As Romes looked toward retirement, he realized that he didn’t have a path laid out for his post-military career. He pondered this new reality one Sunday as he dressed for church, and his eyes wandered to the four stacks of military uniforms that he would soon throw away.

Will Romes, Photo Credit: Dayton Tech Guide

Will Romes, Photo Credit: Dayton Tech Guide

It seemed like a shame, he recalled. So he looked for a way to repurpose it. Romes connected with a factory in California that can make eight patterned shirts out of each military uniform. 

But Eighth Order isn’t only about clothes. According to the National Center for PTSD, 11%–20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD, and Romes is one of them. Eighth Order also plans to share the stories behind the uniforms — what countries it has traveled to and what campaigns it has seen — as a way to help veterans deal with PTSD. When veterans donate their uniforms, they also return a card where they share as many or as few details from their service as they want. The card eventually gets distributed with the shirts that the uniform is used to create.

Romes has 18 days to go on his $20,000 Kickstarter goal. He hopes to launch his Eighth Order e-commerce shop in February 2020. 

You can support his efforts by going to the Kickstarter campaign.

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