Ten years as a Navy helicopter pilot made Brian Culver want to use his Edmond, OK-based dry cleaning business to give something back.
Brian Culver from Lapels Dry Cleaning in Edmond, OK. Photo courtesy Van Mitchell/Edmond Sun
When local meteorologist Jed Castle asked Brian if he knew of any veteran service organizations that could make use of some suits he had that no longer fit, Brian came up with a great idea – he would clean donated suits for free and pass them on to the Mid-America chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“I think for anyone who has been in the military, once you’re in, you really never leave; you still have a special commitment to others you served with and would do anything for them,” Culver said. “I know firsthand what it’s like to get back into the civilian world and get your feet under you again. It’s tough.”
With the Mid-America chapter of Paralyzed Veterans being active throughout the community in and around Oklahoma City, news about the donations spread quickly through word-of-mouth and social media, resulting in even more suits donated by Culver’s customers.
Scott Ellis, government relations director for the Mid-America chapter, said his goal for the donated suits is to make them available to veterans across the country involved in Operation PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), Paralyzed Veterans of America’s premier vocational rehabilitation program.
“We’re obviously very honored they would consider choosing us out of all the veterans organizations out there,” Ellis said. “Anytime we as a chapter have the opportunity to help a veteran, not just a chapter veteran but any veteran, we’re on board with that. We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to find good homes for these suits and find people who will put them to good use.”
After more than 10 years as a Navy helicopter pilot, Culver began looking for an opportunity to start his own business. After some research, he discovered the dry cleaning industry is very stable, and his franchise – Lapels Dry Cleaning – was ranked very high.
“I was grateful for the time that I had in the Navy, but it was very clear that it was time to move on,” Culver said. “I always wanted to own my own business.”
Culver said his ultimate hope is that the donations will boost interest from employers across the country on the need to hire veterans.
“What veterans have done in the military really blows away any experience in the civilian world,” Culver said. “Employers should be giving them a second look.”
For more information about donating, call 405-418-4030, or email email@example.com.
Learn more about Operation PAVE, Paralyzed Veterans of America’s premier vocational rehabilitation program
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.