Whether it's a Military ball or another formal event for the Armed Forces, these scenarios can add up after a while. That's why Operation Deploy Your Dress (ODYD) was developed. It's a chance for women of the Armed Forces to look their best at any formal affair, without the costs that come with it.
We'll explore more about this organization and how you can get involved.
Meet: Yvonne Coombes
Yvonne started as a Navy Family Readiness Group Leader from 2005 to 2007. This means that she represented a group of people who supported other spouses of those in the Armed Forces during deployment. This role helps directly connect commanders with their community, even during deployment.
From there, Yvonne continued to facilitate communication, community and commonplace between those on deployment and their family and friends. From helping with CrossCountry Mortgage to what is now the ODYD, Yvonne is dedicated to helping Armed Forces families get the support they need to lead the lives they want.
She truly believes that everyone who serves should feel the "tradition and camaraderie that takes place at military balls and formal functions."
Yvonne has been a Military wife for 20 years, and has helped hundreds of families connect and feel taken care of around the world.
What is ODYD?
Military balls are a significant part of the culture in this sector. Yvonne is the cofounder of ODYD, and began this journey in 2015 when she and her friends did a dress swap among the other women within their unit and their spouses. The intention was — and remains — to offset the cost of attending formal Military affairs.
They decided to expand this idea on a national and international level. Yvonne and her friends opened up these swaps to other units, which helped them gain more media attention. In the past 8 years, they have opened 13 stores around the country, with one in Germany that "deploys" dresses to any Military ID holders.
Their line of dresses includes a full bridal department where brides-to-be can pick from 27 brand-new wedding gown styles, accessories and looks. The entire process is done online through video conferencing so that any bride can work with the ODYD Bridal team so they're matched with the perfect dress.
Their newest installation occurred in 2022, with a partnership with David's Bridal. David's Bridal launched the Frontline Fierce Corporate Philanthropy Initiative to support frontline workers with formal dresses.
Fittings and Volunteers
The organization is run entirely by volunteers, donations and pure partnerships. They found support through the Fort Bliss Garrison Command and the Spouses' Club, which helped them expand their offerings and locations.
A Military cardholder can come by any one of the shops or contact the team online to pick up one dress and one accessory a year.
Being part of the Armed Forces or a spouse of someone serving isn't easy, but organizations like ODYD and their partners work hard to support in any way they can. You can make a donation or become a volunteer online by contacting them today.