WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — The transition from the military to civilian life is challenging for many veterans. That’s why a bakery in Washington D.C. is working to ease that process – one scone at a time.
When veteran Kim Defiori returned home from Afghanistan, she was facing a personal battle. After nine years in the military, she knew it was time to leave.
“I had PTSD. I had some traumatic brain injuries. My migraines were more frequent,” Defiori said. “I had a couple [of] suicide attempts when I was at the Pentagon.”
Due to her struggles, Defiori wasn’t sure how well she would do in the civilian workforce. That’s when she and her service dog, Thor, enrolled in Dog Tag – a nonprofit bakery in the heart of Washington D.C.’s Georgetown Neighborhood.
Dog Tag’s mission is to provide a recipe for success for veterans transitioning into the civilian workforce. The organization recruits veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as military spouses and caregivers, and puts them through a “living business school,” said Dog Tag CEO Meghan Ogilvie.
“They go through tests, papers, and presentations to earn and graduate with a certificate in business administration from Georgetown,” Ogilvie said.
After graduating from Dog Tag, Defiori went on to start her own nonprofit, Badges United Foundation. The organization is dedicated to boosting the overall wellness of first responders and their significant others.
“She’s a success in a variety of ways, but mostly because she found her voice and she’s found a way to serve again,” Ogilvie said.
The Department of Defense estimates that more than 2450,000 service members leave the military each year. Christopher Plamp, with Hire Heroes, said that many veterans need employment assistance when they leave the service.
“They have never made a resume. They’ve never interviewed for a job. They don’t even understand the skills that they gained while they were in the military,” Plamp said. “That never goes away.”
Hire Heroes is an online platform that helps thousands of veterans across the country jump start their job search.
“All of our services are done virtually. They are done over the phone, over the computer, over text or Skype. Whatever is the best way to talk to the veteran or military spouse,” Plamp said.