HOUSTON, Tx. (Nexstar) – They’ve served our country and now 10 percent of U.S. Veterans are women, trying to combat civilian life.
“We hope for it to be a smooth transition and for everyone to accept us and all of the baggage we come with,” says Yecenia Caban Jimenez, a Retired Staff Sergeant with the United States Air Force.
After 12 years of service she medically retired two and a half years ago. It’s not been an easy transition, especially when it comes to battling stereotypes. Jimenez says just because women leave the military life behind, doesn’t mean they leave behind their dreams.
“We want to be astronauts, we want to be engineers, we want to be doctors, we just don’t want to leave our career when we hang up our uniform.”
Fortunately, standing behind these female soldiers is an “army” of women at the local non-profit Dress for Success.
Started by a Houston businesswoman, Dress for Success provides these veterans with a unique networking opportunity, connecting them with other women facing similar challenges, and gets them looking the part, as they begin the next chapter in their lives.
“We provide the interview attire, we also provide the first impressions, which will help them prepare for those interview skills, that they may not have or used in a really long time,” says LaGaydra Murphy, Dress for Success’ Veteran Outreach Manager.
And she knows what it’s like for these female veterans because she’s been in their shoes, literally. Murphy is also a Retired United States Air Force Veteran.
“For me I went in at 18 so I’d never been on a job interview before. So, coming out, it was like, I remember telling me mom, ‘I’ve got to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.'”
Now Murphy has found her dream job of helping fellow female veterans. She says, “It’s always an amazing feeling and the smiles from everyone involved. It’s almost like, I didn’t know that I could look like this. Because you’re in a uniform for so long. A lot of women have never put on a suit before, so once they put it on it’s so uplifting an empowering. And you really do feel like, ‘Okay I’m ready.’”
Jimenez is ready thanks to the help of Dress for Success. But it’s so much more than the outfit.
“This makes me feel so amazing because that’s what I have always longed for in my life. Being part of a community and being accepted,” says Jimenez.
After all, Dress for Success’ motto is “Beyond the Suit”. Truly fitting!
For more on Dress for Success, please visit: www.dfshouston.org