Step inside the new Dog Tag Bakery in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and your nose might tell you it’s just a place to buy some delicious scones, muffins and bread. But while it does sell freshly-baked goods, the bakery’s actual mission is to train wounded veterans how run a small business.
Ten wounded veterans comprise Dog Tag Bakery’s initial class of “fellows,” who take classes in baking, business management, marketing, inventory and more; the former soldiers work 15 hours a week in the bakery to gain hands-on business experience. Bakery general manager Justin Ford tells WTOP, “The bakery is a conduit to teach our fellows small business management.”
Phil Cassidy, board chair of Dog Tag Inc., adds, “At the end of the six month period, ideally, they’ve learned the skills to get on with their lives.”
Dog Tag Inc. has partnered with the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies to allow the vets to earn a certificate of business administration through the program.
Rebecca Sheir of WAMU spoke to some of the veterans participating in the program. Maurice Jones spent 22 years in the Army, working in I.T. and telecommunications before he was injured. He tells WAMU, “I want to start my own I.T. consulting firm,” and says of Dog Tag Bakery, “They treat us like adults, professionals. They don’t look at our disability as a hindrance or a disability at all. They’re looking to provide us with the skills and knowledge to progress and succeed in any endeavor we’ve got going on.”
MORE: For These Vets, There’s Solace in the Simple Act of Making Bread