Transitioning from active duty to the private sector is jarring for many Veterans. As many as 27% of Veterans struggle with adjusting to civilian life according to the Pew Research Center. This can be particularly difficult for female Veterans, but VA and other private sector organizations are stepping up to support these women. One organization, Dress For Success Austin (DFSA), provides a network of professional support, business attire and development tools to help all women thrive in work and life.

DFSA and its affiliates across the country have three programs for any woman who would like career development assistance:

  1. Suiting – work with women to choose an interview outfit and provide guidance and support for the upcoming interview.
  2. Career Advancement – support and assist women in identifying and striving towards their professional and personal goals. Includes mapping out the future through financial planning.
  3. Leadership Training – teach women to advance their careers and give back to their communities.

One Veteran, Jessica Kirkham, recently landed a job at TikTok using Dress for Success resources, a career change after working for a combined five years as a cryptologic linguist in the Navy and for the NSA.

Woman "dressing for success"“I was led to DFSA while attending a Veteran Transition seminar hosted by the Texas Veterans Commission,” Kirkham said. “I was looking for guidance on translating my military experience into something civilian recruiters and hiring managers would understand, and DFSA’s Bridge the Gap for Women Veterans program helped me do exactly that. They also set me up with my mentor, Summer McAfee, and she helped steer me in the right direction with numerous phone calls and Zoom sessions, through which we polished and perfected my resume and interviewing skills.

“With support from organizations like Dress for Success, people of all ages and stages can build the confidence and soft skills they need to land their dream job,” she added. “Veterans bring strong leadership skills, discipline and other critical competencies to companies in the private sector. Dress for Success Austin and BreakLine (a nonprofit in San Francisco) helped build my confidence and readiness to bring my authentic self to the private sector, specifically to TikTok.”

If you or someone you know is interested or would benefit from working with DFSA or any of its affiliates, you can find their contact information at: https://austin.dressforsuccess.org/contact/.

DFSA exclusively supports women, but there are other organizations like Career Gear that provide similar services for men actively seeking employment. They can be contacted at: info@careergear.org.

To see more information like this, subscribe to VetResources, visit: https://www.va.gov/vetresources/.

Social Media:
Dress for Success Austin
  • Facebook: @DFSAustin
  • Instagram: @dressforsuccessATX
  • Twitter: @DFSAustinTX
  • YouTube
Dress for Success Worldwide:
  • Facebook: @DressForSuccess
  • Twitter: @dressforsuccess
  • Instagram: @dressforsuccess
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn: @dress-for-success-worldwide

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA.


Ian Lacy is a communications specialist in VA’s Veterans Experience Office. 

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2 Comments

  1. da pv June 23, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    Sadly the only vet resource anywhere near me (Richmond, VA) requires in-person visits and fitting. It is too far away.

  2. Julia Marie Hardee June 17, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    I am more than willing to help women with professional skills and dressing for success to get the job they want. Whether it’s a military career, business, or other profession, I have leadership skills and advice that many would find useful especially if a woman is looking to re-enter the workforce after childbirth or just some time off for whatever reason. I was in the military and reserve for 33 + years, and I also had civilian jobs in the non-profit world during 10 years in the Reserve, so I can relate to others about experiences and how to handle oneself during any situation in the workforce. I could also offer some like new or gently used items of clothing, sizes 12 – 14 for anyone in need for a professional look or addition to their wardrobe. I live in NE Florida, and am retired and would gladly share my thoughts and clothing resources with someone in need or who wishes professional advice.

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