TITUSVILLE, Fla. — Ensuring a proper burial for those who have bravely served our country is important to Navy veteran and Titusville thrift-shop owner Jerry Vaughn.

What You Need To Know

  • Jerry Vaughn tries to make sure every veteran is buried in full dress uniforms

  • The Titusville thrift-shop owner is a former Navy dental technician

  • He works to ensure every uniform is correct, based on the veteran's rank, awards and service record

He's helping families honor their loved ones, one uniform at a time. Vaughn, who served as a dental technician in the mid- to late 80's and whose last assignment was the Orlando Naval Dental Clinic, started his nonprofit thrift shop, Down the Road Thrift, specifically to serve military veterans and their families.​

Last year he heard about a former Marine who passed away in a nursing home. The man had no family and no uniform in which to be buried.

"I asked the funeral director how many times it happens. He said it's more than they want to talk about," Vaughn said. "Nobody should be going into the national cemetery after serving their country and wear a leisure suit."

That experience started his quest to help families in similar situations. Many times a burial uniform gets lost in the funeral planning, Vaughn said. Families don't have the know-how to make them look the right way. He and his team have strict criteria to make sure the uniforms they put together are correct for each military branch and rank. 

"It's my policy that if it's a Navy sailor that has passed away, it's a Navy sailor putting together the uniform," Vaughn said.

To make sure each one is authentic, Vaughn scours stores across the area like Gear Up in Titusville.

Getting the proper medals, patches, ribbons and awards for that specific uniform is very important to Vaughn and his crew. Once a funeral is planned, time is of the essence. He has limited time to gather everything needed to dress the vet who has passed.

Liz Odom, who owns Lizzie Bee Sewing in Oviedo and does all types of alterations on prom dresses, pants and suits, is volunteering her skills altering the military uniforms.

Odom said she's honored to help. Her husband, dad, uncles and brother-in-law all served.

"I would feel if I was in that position, I would want someone to help me," she said.

​Since that first Marine, Vaughn and his team have put together 21 uniforms, all for free.

"If they were proud enough to serve their country, and they wore this stuff with honor, then they should be buried in it," Vaughn said.

To contact Down the Road Thrift, you can visit their website here.