Someone Cares: Deploy Your Dress

A group of women arrange for civilians to donate their formal wear so that more military couples can attend dress balls.

Posted in , Jun 23, 2017

An artist's rendering of a trio of formal gowns--one red, one white and one blue

Military balls are a great way to build unit cohesion and celebrate traditions, but they can also be expensive. Aside from buying tickets, many couples have to hire a babysitter, and the non–service member will need something formal to wear.

In December 2015, a few other Army spouses and I organized a gown swap for the women on Fort Bliss, in Texas and New Mexico. We hoped that if the dresses were free, more junior-ranking soldiers would be able to attend.

Donations came from across the U.S. We collected more than 3,000 dresses in six weeks. People also sent shoes, purses and other accessories.

We called our three-day event Operation Deploy Your Dress. Many women who came told us they’d never been to a ball because they couldn’t afford formal gowns. We heard that so often, we knew we had to keep going. The Fort Bliss shop now has regular hours. When my family moved last June, I started a shop on our new installation, Fort Eustis. We’ve also opened up at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington. We get tuxedos and suits too, so men can look sharp. Have some formal wear you won’t wear again? Let us deploy it!

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