A meaningful fashion statement

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on November 07, 2012 with No Comments

Soldier to Soldier bracelets available at eState Jewelers in Portage

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As the years pass, Operation Enduring Freedom no longer makes the headlines it once did.  As a result, the fact that veterans of America’s most recent wars are coming home can be easily overlooked.

One Afghanistan veteran, Stefan Hylleborg, came up with a stylish campaign that allows people to spread awareness about the struggles of returning veterans and raise funds to benefit them.

That campaign, From Soldier to Soldier, was launched in December 2010 and is based on the sales of a designer version of a survival bracelet typically worn by many United States and allied soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The real survival bracelets worn by soldiers in the field are braided by the soldiers themselves using their parachute cord. If the situation calls for it, the bracelets can be unraveled and the parachute cord can be used for many purposes. They are also sometimes exchanged among soldiers as friendship bracelets, according to the campaign’s Web site.

The site says that a uniform button is often sewn on and used as the clasp for the bracelet. The clasped bracelet is said to symbolize the bond among soldiers that can never be broken. Each knot in the bracelet is sometimes seen as a symbol for a fallen soldier.

Just as silicone wristbands sporting millions of different messages and promoting millions of different causes boomed in popularity just a few years ago, From Soldier to Soldier bracelets are starting to get a reputation of their own and demand is starting to grow.

One local jewelry store decided to make it easier for area residents to add the bracelets to their wardrobe by selling the items from their location. The eState Jewelers Coins & Collectibles store in Portage became only the second location in the state to sell the bracelets on location. The choice to do so was an easy one, according to Shannon Burhans of the family-owned jewelry store.

“In our community in particular we felt this was something meaningful,” Burhans said, referring to the personal connection to soldiers serving overseas that is so common in the area. “We feel that the line is stylish, the story behind them is meaningful and they are a great fit for our store because we’re very active in the community.”

The price of the bracelets starts at $95 with $25 of that going towards the Homes for Our Troops fund. The national not-for-profit organization, which began in 2004, is committed to helping soldiers who have returned home from war with serious disabilities and injuries by ensuring their home is fully accessible to them.

The organization picks up the tab on any costs not covered by the Veterans Administration Specially Adapted Housing Grant to ensure that the home of an injured or disabled veteran returning from action is completely altered for accessibility at no cost to the veteran.

The eState has sold many bracelets since it has been carrying the line.  Many new styles have been introduced since their inception, which makes the line fresh.

Customers can even make their bracelets even more unique by choosing a unique style of clasp for the bracelet. While a sterling silver button is normally used as the clasp, a sterling silver heart and a gold plated sterling silver heart are also available. For $145, a sterling silver heart with a small diamond and a gold plated version of the same design can be purchased to add to the uniqueness of the bracelet.

“With the economy the way it is, it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Burhans said. “If you need to get a gift for someone, why not spend it on something like this.”

Burhans said they take pride in the fact they can contribute to such a cause and will continue selling the bracelets as long as the community is buying them.

The eState is located at 3101 Willowcreek Road in Portage. For more information, call 219-764-4316 or e-mail theestateinc@aol.com.

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