For many veterans, leaving the structure and stability of the military is a daunting prospect, and finding steady employment after being discharged can be more difficult than many realize. That’s why the Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C., is changing so many lives.
Not only does the cafe offer a good cup of coffee and a range of delicious treats, but it also provides opportunity to those who have put their lives on the line to protect our country.
“It’s not just about a job or just about going back into education,” Dog Tag Inc. CEO Meghan Ogilvie told TODAY. “It’s really about helping our fellows to find purpose again and find a mission.”
The military provides people with a high level of responsibility and develops their leadership skills in an extraordinary way. Therefore, vets are brilliant employees and have so much value to add to various business sectors. But getting a shot can be harder than you might think for those who have spent years in uniform.
“For so long, we just followed the orders of the nation,” military veteran Sharod Wade explained. “So now, I wake up one day and I get to do whatever it is I want to do. [You ask yourself], ‘What is that I like?”
Those vets that choose to enroll in the program at Dog Tag work in the storefront bakery fixing coffee, serving pastries and working the register.
But there is so much more to the initiative — they are also invited to participate in courses such as accounting and marketing to learn the skills required to run a small business.
The Dog Tag Bakery website describes its incredible mission:
“From the early hours of each morning, our bakery is mixing up batches of handmade baked goods while providing valuable work experience for disabled veterans and caregivers.
The Dog Tag work-study program combines education with the experience necessary for our vets to succeed post duty as civilians.
Dog Tag Inc. seeks to build a bridge to business employment and a productive civilian life for the veterans and military families that have served our country so well.
We provide a transformative opportunity for service-disabled veterans, military spouses, and caregivers through a five-month fellowship, offering an education at Georgetown University and real life work experience in our small business venture, Dog Tag Bakery. Upon completion of our program, our fellows are business ready, competitive and employable.”
Companies such as Deloitte contribute by running workshops on resume writing and interviewing skills. The program, referred to as a “fellowship,” runs for six months. At completion, participants receive a certificate in business administration from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.
Both the wonderful bakery and fellowship program were founded in 2012 by Connie Milstein, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and Rev. Rick Curry, a Jesuit priest.
#tbt Remembering the grand-opening of @dogtagbakery the loving direction and inspiration of our co-founders, Connie Milstein and the late Father Rick Curry, SJ who envisioned a bakery with a mission; transform the lives returning veterans with disabilities by providing an education powered by Georgetown University & hands on training at the bakery. Learn more about our work study program @dogtagbakery —–#georgetownuniversity #bakingadifference #philanthropy #militaryfamily #cafelife
Curry, who died in 2015, was born without a right forearm — a disability that would inspire him to help others. He founded the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped, transforming the lives of more than 15,000 people, and was also a founding force behind the Dog Tag Bakery.
Curry was met with repeated disappointments as a result of his disability, but he refused to let discouragement get the better of him.
“It’s funny,” he once told Ecumenica, “At 6, because of my arm, I was told I could not be a soldier. I could not be a priest. I could not be a doctor. Well, I have a doctorate, I’m a priest and I’m working with the military. I think that’s proof that it’s not smart to circumscribe God.”