Operation Deploy Your Dress supports soldiers and families

Operation Deploy Your Dress supports soldiers and families

Thursday, June 15, 2017

During the weekend of April 29-30, the Association of the U. S. Army’s General Gordon R. Sullivan Conference and Event Center was transformed into a high-end evening wear boutique.

Military and civilian donors, to include several from AUSA’s Fairfax Lee and George Washington chapters, donated over 2,000 gowns, handbags and pieces of jewelry to Operation Deploy Your Dress’s (ODYD) first ever pop-up event cohosted with AUSA.

Two hundred happy soldiers and family members visited AUSA and strolled away with the perfect party ensemble leaving Yvonne Coombs, co-founder of ODYD, and her volunteers, with happy hearts.

Coombs said, “I can say without a doubt this event that Operation Deploy Your Dress was able to put on for the amazing military families of the National Capital Region was only possible because of the generosity of AUSA and the cooperative planning between our two groups.

“We distributed over 200 free dresses in two days to help military families of all ranks. Everyone from the recipients to the organizers to the event day volunteers had smiles on their faces.”

She added, “The space was perfect, the atmosphere was perfect and the selfless teamwork that the AUSA team displayed left us speechless. We look forward to helping many more military families and hope to work with AUSA again in the future.”

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was the re-purposing of the Good Morning America dress.

Spc. Dantzler with her husband, Spc. Richard Dantzler and children, Adrian and Amari.

Ellen Zophy, a paramedic who grew up in an Army family, was surprised by her fire station colleagues when they nominated her and she was selected for a Good Morning America makeover.

Not only did the experience leave Zophy with fond memories, she also left GMA with a beautiful off the shoulder red ball gown which she occasionally wore for two years.

When hearing about the ODYD event, she knew that her special dress needed to find a new home.

“Getting a makeover from Good Morning America was very exciting but as an Army brat I was even more thrilled to repurpose my dress in such a meaningful way.

“AUSA and Operation Deploy Your Dress gave me the opportunity to pay it forward and support a group that I have always been proud to be a part of, the Army family.”

ODYD volunteers kept a close eye on the GMA dress, not giving away its history but hoping one lucky person would select it.

Enter Spc. Sade Dantzler, currently stationed with the HHC 12th Aviation Battalion, Fort Belvoir, Va., She tried it on and knew immediately it was the dress for her.

A crowd of volunteers gathered around her and began to clap as they explained to the surprised soldier why this dress was so special.

“It fit so beautifully and I felt so special wearing it,” said Dantzler, “but I had no idea why everyone was so excited. When I found out why I was excited too.”

Adding, “It is wonderful that there is a program like Operation Deploy Your Dress that supports soldiers and their families in such a way. It can be very stressful to go out and purchase a gown, accessories, shoes; it all adds up. I just want to say thank you to everyone.”

“For AUSA it was exactly the type of event we wanted to be a part of”, said retired Lt. Gen. Guy Swan, AUSA vice president for education.

He noted, “Our local chapters and the AUSA national headquarters staff thoroughly enjoyed being a part of such a great event.

“Any day that offers the chance to support soldiers and their families is a good day at AUSA.”