COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A Fort Carson woman is getting recognition after winning The Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year award for 2020 and 2021.
Yvonne Coombes, an Army wife of 20 years based in Fort Carson, Colo. was named Army Spouse of the Year in May of 2020. But because of the pandemic, she was not able to get the recognition award winners usually receive. So program organizers decided to keep the same winners for a second year.
“They wanted to give our class more of a chance to be put out there and show really the world what we are doing so they extended us through 2021 as well. I get to be two years, so really I am the first army spouse of the year two years in a row,” Coombes said.
Coombes who represents the Army branch was chosen out of nearly 1,000 applicants for the award for the work she does in her military community through her non-profit Operation Deploy Your Dress.
The organization started in 2015, supplying new and gently-used formal wear to spouses and military partners– for free.
“What we were trying to do was just gather some dresses from our friends and neighbors and put them in a community center give them to people who had balls coming up,” Coombes said.
She said the non-profit was in response to hearing about women not being able to go to military balls or formal military gatherings, because they could not afford a dress.
“It’s very expensive going to a ball, between a dress, hair, makeup and shoes, babysitter and tickets and everything else. A lot of the time, military families or family members are being left out just because they can’t afford it,” Coombes said.
Her goal, in the beginning, was to collect enough dresses for a single weekend. Now, thousands of dresses have been collected with 11 bases participating state-wide with one branch in Germany.
“It’s 100% more than we ever imagined we were going to be able to do, but we are so excited we are able to help so many people. We– to date– have helped almost 15,000 military families and we have no intentions of stopping,” Coombes said.
Military servicewomen and military spouses can select one dress and one accessory per year. By presenting their military ID card, they can walk away without spending a dime.