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June 21, 2016


Putting DC Veterans to Work With Dog Tag Bakery

Rebecca Clerget, Executive Pastry Chef (Center) surrounded by Dog Tag Bakery graduates.

June 21, 2016

Dog Tag Bakery in Washington D.C. is helping put veterans to work by offering a work-study program that gives them skills to succeed post duty as civilians. The Georgetown non-profit offers a five-month fellowship program and is currently in its fourth class session. You'll get a chance to meet some of the graduates at our D.C. Block Party this weekend where they'll be selling lemonade, the brownies they're so well-known for, and other baked goods. 

We hope to see you this Saturday, June 25 from 3-8PM at our DC store (1631 14th St. NW) for our Block Party! Enjoy eats by Dog Tag, drinks, activities for the whole family and musical performances by: Greensky BluegrassHoward Gospel Choir, and DJ Ben Chang

Dog Tag Inc. provides opportunities for veterans with disabilities ranging from physical injuries to mental trauma by offering an education at Georgetown University and real life work experience in the Dog Tag Bakery, located at 3206 Grace St NW. Military spouses and caregivers are also welcome to apply. Upon completion of the program, transitioned veterans are business ready, competitive and employable. Every graduating fellow earns a Certificate in Business Administration from Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies. 

“The bakery is used as an incubator and we empower them through education and employment,” says Meghan Ogilvie, chief executive officer of Dog Tag Inc. 

Inside the bakery + a closeup shot of the bakery's famous brownies. 

Dog Tag graduate Sergeant John J. Lira, USMC talked to us about the most rewarding aspects of the program. 

“The Dog Tag fellowship was a personally uplifting and professionally rewarding experience for me during an important moment in my life," says Sergeant Lira. "The fellowship provided an innovative learning environment that allowed me to gain valuable project management skills and learn the essence of starting and running a small business alongside veterans and military spouses."

Sergeant Lira took full advantage of the program, specifically its connectivity to mentors that have helped him in his new career at Corporation for National and Comunity Service, where he helps increase the number of veterans in the AmeriCorps Program.

"The most rewarding aspect of the program, besides the constant presence of brownies, was the opportunity to network with veteran entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and inspirational mentors who challenged me to reflect on my military experiences, explore my personal interests, and redefine what professional success means to me going forward.”    

The Dog Tag storefront includes a state of the art bakery, kitchen and classroom space. 

Fellow Dog Tag alumnus Sham Hasan was an Iraqi translator for the U.S. Army. As a new immigrant to the U.S., he emphasized how this experience has changed his life.

"I'm from Baghdad, Iraq and a recent immigrant to the U.S. I came to the U.S. through the special immigrant visa for Iraqi and Afghan translators who provided faithful services to the U.S. Army in Iraq," says Hasan. "I started my very first job in the United States with Dog Tag Bakery, and I couldn't have been any luckier. I found the right people in the right environment that value my skills and deeply appreciate my services as a former army linguist."

While at Dog Tag, Hasan took pride in his role because it allowed him to share what it's like to be back in civilian life. "I was the first Iraqi barista when the bakery was first opened. Baked goods and the freshly brewed coffee was the bridge to tell my story to our first customers who wondered about the story behind Dog Tag."

Today, Hasan still works with coffee in his new role as an assistant manager at Starbucks. "After graduation, my greatest weakness became my greatest strengths," says Sham. "I have greatly enjoyed the kindness and wisdom in the class. To me, this is one of the best experiences I have ever had. Everyone was so willing to share, sympathize, encourage, and do whatever it takes to get the best out of everyone." 

Visit Dog Tag Bakery the next time you're in D.C. — learn more about their program, here

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