Dog Tag Bakery

News

  • Father Curry The Hoya: Dog Tag Bakery Celebrates Father Curry Date: February 26, 2016

    (This article originally appeared in The Hoya on Feb. 26th, 2016)

    Dog Tag Bakery, a nonprofit organization that sells baked goods and trains veterans in business, will hold a birthday celebration March 18 in honor of one of its founders, Fr. Rick Curry, S.J., who taught Catholic studies at Georgetown and passed away last December.

    Hannah Carey (MSB ’16), who enjoys studying at the bakery, said visiting Dog Tag is a way for Georgetown students to honor Fr. Curry.

    “A way to honor him and remember him is sticking by the great bakery he made. It makes you want to buy the sweets and baked goods to support an incredible cause. I think I’ve seen way more Georgetown students there after Fr. Curry’s passing, and that to me says a lot about the Georgetown community,” Carey said.

    In a cozy storefront with a chandelier made of thousands of military dog tags, Dog Tag Bakery not only serves coffee and baked goods to the D.C. community, but also offers a fellowship program with Georgetown University that teaches veterans entrepreneurial skills for running their own businesses.

    The bakery, located at 3206 Grace St., welcomes between 10 and 12 disabled veterans to participate in its fellowship program every five months. Dog Tag has had three “cohorts,” or groups of fellows, since its pilot program in June 2014. The fellowship program aims to educate veterans in four core areas of running a business: accounting, marketing, front-of-house skills like customer service and sales, and back-of-house skills such as procuring products and development.

    In the 5-month fellowship program, disabled veterans take seven courses at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies and earn a Business Administration certificate at the end of the program. The fellows also participate in learning labs and workshops that aim to teach them soft skills about small business, entrepreneurship, networking, and professionalism.

    View the rest of the story here: http://www.thehoya.com/dog-tag-bakery-celebrates-father-curry/

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  • WUSA9 Video Georgetown bakery giving veterans business-world skills Date: February 24, 2016

    (This article originally appeared on WUSA9 on Feb. 24th, 2016)

    WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A local business is making a profound difference in the lives of our military veterans and their families.

    Through a six-month fellowship program, Dog Tag Bakery in Georgetown is giving veterans, wounded warriors and their spouses the skills to achieve their dreams and learn every aspect about running a small business.

    Shay Mason is an Army veteran, Army spouse and now the primary caregiver to her wounded warrior husband, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    "This program is a godsend for my family," Mason said.

    "Now I kind of feel like I can breathe. And there are people who really care."

    She’s found hope and help through Dog Tag Bakery.

    "You don’t fall through the cracks, you don’t become a statistic, and not only that. If you have a dream to become an entrepreneur, we’re going to help you," Mason said.

    The program goes well beyond the bakery. Upstairs in their building is a classroom where Georgetown professors offer weekly lectures on topics like entrepreneurship, finance and marketing.

    "The support and the energy is phenomenal here, Peter Scott, an Army veteran and wounded warrior. said.

    "This program is one that will help me, lead me to a place where I can succeed and kind of find my niche or my safe place in life."

    Like many returning service members, Scott struggled to re-enter the workforce and battled isolation and despair.

    "It’s great to have a community that can help build us back up," Scott said.

    Dog Tag Bakery CEO Meghan Ogilvie says the program's goal is about getting those who served back on their feet.

    "They’re not looking for a handout, they’re not looking for someone to feel bad for them. They’re coming in here, they might have a disability, they might have gone through a lot as a spouse or a caregiver, but they’re here because they want to move forward with their life," Ogilvie said.

    If you know a service member, police officer or firefighter who serves our community and might like a visit from Andrea and Bunce, just send us an email to bunce@wusa9.com. And for more info on Dog Tag Bakery’s innovative fellows program, visit their website.

    View the video here: http://www.wusa9.com/news/georgetown-bakery-giving-veterans-business-world-skills/51005158

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  • ABC's The Chew Photo ABC's The Chew Features Dog Tag Bakery Date: December 17, 2015

    On Veteran's Day, ABC's The Chew featured the story of our Fellowship Program and many of our Fellows.

    We are so grateful for their attention and effort to bring our story to a national audience!

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XzwQti0IQQ&feature=youtu.be

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  • The Weekly Feed: Sweet Swirl Edition Date: May 8, 2015

    (This article originally appeared in DCist on May 8th, 2015)

    "Sunday marks Mother’s Day, a popular occasion to enjoy an indulgent breakfast or brunch. Between the eggs benedict and free-flowing mimosas, be sure to linger over the warm, gooey goodness of a cinnamon roll.

    If your only exposure to a cinnamon roll is the Cinnabon food court at the mall, you’re sorely missing out (Ed. note: Hey, there's nothing wrong with Cinnabon). Fortunately, a number of bakeries and restaurants in D.C. are churning out these classic, coiled breakfast pastries.

    Ted’s Bulletin serves what is quite possibly the mother of all cinnamon buns. The enormous pastry—they’re only slightly exaggerating when they say it’s “as big as your head”—is served Saturdays and Sundays only. It comes with a gravy boat of extra icing, and its huge size makes it great for sharing.

    The new Dog Tag Bakery (3206 Grace Street NW) in Georgetown sells cinnamon buns made from layers of cinnamon, custard, and raisins and is finished with a maple syrup glaze. Each purchase supports the bakery’s work-study program for military veterans, and you won’t have to fight the cupcake-seeking hoards.

    Cinnamon buns can be found at many other local bakeries, including the recently-opened RareSweets (963 Palmer Alley in Fort Washington, Md.) and a vegan version at Sticky Fingers (1370 Park Road NW). Have a favorite spot? Let us know. Small Bites The Black Squirrel goes barrel aged

    Anyone interested in barrel-aged beer should swing by the Black Squirrel (2427 18th Street NW) this evening. Beginning at 5 p.m., the Adams Morgan bar will serve up 25 rare barrel-aged beers both on draft and by the bottle. Featured breweries include Mad Fox, Goose Island, and Mother Earth. If you get hungry, the kitchen is grilling up both a stinky cheese and stout burger to accompany the brews. Sumo spirit in Chinatown

    This May, Daikaya (705 6th Street NW) is giving guests a taste of traditional Japanese sumo wrestling. From the 10th through the 24th, the second-floor Izakaya will be showing sumo matches and offering sumo-themed dinner specials. Among the options will be a mini Chanko-nabe, a staple of the sumo wrestler diet. This Japanese hot pot is made with dashi, sake, mirin, chicken, fish, and vegetables.

    Raise a glass to support animal research

    The Smithsonian’s Zoofari fundraiser returns to the National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Avenue NW) on May 14. Tickets for non-members cost $200 plus fees and get you unlimited food, wine and beer from more than 100 area restaurants including BLT Steak, Jack Rose, Estadio, and others. Attendees also get special after-hours access to certain animal exhibits."

    Link: http://dcist.com/2015/05/the_weekly_feed_sweet_swirl_edition.php

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  • Daily Mail: A recipe for success! New 'Dog Tag Bakery' teaches wounded U.S. veterans the business skills they need to re-enter the civilian workforce Date: March 5, 2015

    Readjusting to the American workforce after active military service - particularly when dealing with injuries - can be notoriously challenging, which is why two enterprising philanthropists have put their heads together to form an unlikely solution.

    Dog Tag Bakery - which trains and employs wounded veterans, not just in baking but in actually running the business - was launched last year in Georgetown, Washington D.C., by Father Richard Curry, a professor of Catholic Studies at Georgetown University, and entrepreneur Connie Milstein.

    It's a two-floor operation; upstairs a study center where ex-members of the U.S. ex-military (and their spouses or caregivers) are taught classes in business, finance and marketing, and downstairs a storefront bakery, where these skills are put into practice running the operation for local customers.

    The bakery, which reinvests profits from the sale of its bread and sweet treats back into the program, funds a six-month course courtesy of Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.

    'We provide the education and the opportunities to understand what it takes to run a small business with an entrepreneurial mindset,' the program's chief operating officer Meghan Ogilvie told ABC News.

    '[So they can] step out into the next phase of their life empowered with these tools.'

    Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2981876/A-recipe-success-New-Dog-Tag-Bakery-teaches-wounded-U-S-veterans-business-skills-need-enter-civilian-workforce.html

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  • Good Morning America: How This Bakery Helps Military Vets Re-Enter the Workforce Date: March 4, 2015

    Some disabled veterans are getting sick of the “disabled part.”

    “We might have a ‘disability,’” retired Sgt. Maj. Sedrick Banks told ABC News. “But it’s not about your disability. It’s about your ability.”

    Banks served 23 years in the military, bouncing around between eight deployments and various assignments at the White House, 82nd Airborne Division, 520th Infantry, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and more, before medically retiring after a brain injury and some physical injuries.

    Despite doctors telling him it would be difficult for him to ever work again, Banks started volunteering with Mission Continues, the Wounded Warrior Project and other organizations. He began building back his mental and physical strength enough to want to go back to school, so he tried a sociology course at Strayer University.

    “I found I wasn’t where I needed to be at yet, so I dropped that course,” he said.

    That’s when he found Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C., whose mission is to provide these still-abled veterans a roadmap to entering the civilian American workforce. Founded by Father Rick Curry, SJ and Constance Milstein, both of whom have prior baking and nonprofit experience, Dog Tag teamed up with Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies to create a program where disabled veterans specifically could learn the skills of a business administration certificate program through classes and running an actual bakery. Proceeds from the bakery are reinvested in the education program to pay professors’ salaries and give the veterans stipends while in the program.

    “The goal is that within the program we provide the education and the opportunities to understand what it takes to run a small business with an entrepreneurial mindset and step out into the next phase of their life empowered with these tools,” Dog Tag chief operating officer Meghan Ogilvie told ABC News.

    Georgetown professors teach courses on the bakery’s second floor on topics like marketing, social media, finances and more, and guest speakers such as real estate agents and bank CEO’s stop by. Students then immediately apply what they’ve learned in the bakery below. Veterans are even given mock interviewing process, which in turn led to real interviews.

    The bakery first opened in November and has since graduated its first class of seven veterans – including Banks – who by completing the program received their Georgetown certificate in business administration. The first class has since moved on in various directions; one is getting his masters, another his MBA. One got a job through the program, two are interviewing and Banks now owns his own life coaching business.

    Through it all, the Georgetown community has been incredibly supportive, Dog Tag general manager and veteran Justin Ford told ABC News.

    “We’ve more than doubled our sales in the last couple months, we have an online store where we’re selling things like cookies, brownies and neat dog tag-related items and we just expanded our hours of operation,” he explained. “We have a ton of regulars. More than 50 percent of our business is regulars who come in almost on a daily basis. I think the community loves our mission and our product more importantly, and they’re coming back for more. We’re really excited about it.”

    To staff the bakery when a class isn’t in session (the bakery is currently accepting applications for its second class to begin in June), Dog Tag employs locals to bake their scratch breads and pastries on premises.

    From the start, though, Dog Tag was incredibly popular with disabled veterans, filling a need for those who have a tougher time post-military.

    "I think with the veterans, when they return from active duty sometimes they have a more challenging time transitioning their careers from military to civilian. Dog Tag provides a very nice runway for them, kind of a safe environment where they can really understand how the skills they’ve acquired in service in active duty can apply in the real world.” associate dean of Georgetown School of Continuing Studies Edwin Schmierer told ABC News. “The program combines both the theory and learning with the experiential. As fellows in the bakery, they have to apply what they learn immediately, and I think that’s one of the most powerful types of learning when you can apply and experience it.”

    Dog Tag even invites the vets’ spouses and caretakers to partake in the program as well.

    “The caretakers have an additional challenge with the issues they face taking care of their spouses. They also have a higher rate of suffering from anxiety and PTSD on their own right,” Ford said. "Here at Dog Tag we have a very supportive and understanding community that your average employer wouldn’t necessarily have.”

    Banks attributes his current success to that understanding community.

    “Two months into the course mentally it was killing me, and I was like, ‘Man, maybe I can’t take this and I talked to one of the students in the class, Anton, and he was like, ‘Well, Sedrick, if you’re gonna sit there and whine about it you can quit the course,’” Ford recounted. “I felt so inspired by it and held accountable for it and I was like, ‘Okay I can do this.’”

    The course gave Banks enough confidence to re-sign up for the Strayer sociology course, which he then “aced.”

    “Believe me, we had our ups and downs, but what’s so cool about Dog Tag is how you come out in the end of the program. The course was great,” Banks said. “Everyone I talk to, I tell them, especially disabled veterans and spouses, ‘This is the course you need to sign up for.’”

    Link: http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/bakery-helps-military-vets-enter-workforce/story?id=29362658

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  • Mini Apple Pie to benefit Blue Star Families Date: March 3, 2015

    During the month of March, Dog Tag Bakery will continue to support military families through the sale of limited edition apple pies. All proceeds from the pies will benefit Blue Star Families (www.bluestarfam.org), a platform where military family members can join with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life. The 4" personal-sized pie is made with Granny smith apples, lightly sweetened and scented with cinnamon, and surrounded by a flakey pie crust. Patrons can find the apple pie in store throughout the month of March for $6.95 each.

    Link: www.bluestarfam.org

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  • DCist: First Look: Dog Tag Bakery Date: January 21, 2015

    Georgetown’s newest bakery is a comfortable place to get your fix of baked goods and caffeine while supporting a good cause.

    Tucked away on a quiet street off Wisconsin Avenue, the nonprofit Dog Tag Bakery (3206 Grace Street NW) is a work-study program designed to help military veterans looking to re-enter the workforce. Recruits of the six-month program work at the bakery and take business classes at Georgetown University. During the process, they learn about all aspects of running a business, from accounting to store design to organizing trash collection.

    Head baker Rebecca Clerget oversees the daily menu, which includes breakfast pastries, sweets and lunch sandwiches. Customer favorites include the ham and cheddar scone, brownies, and the turkey, brie and cranberry sandwich. In a break from trend, you won’t find any cupcakes here. Try a chocolate or lemon financier instead.

    Dog Tag also serves coffee and espresso by Compass Coffee—a D.C. business started by former U.S. Marines.

    Since opening in early December, the shop has consistently expanded its operation. Hours have been significantly increased to cater to the after-work crowd and lingering customers. And new products are being planned, including homemade croissants and special order items. Clerget also hopes to soon add a second daily bake to allow people to grab fresh goods through the evening.

    In addition to buying products from the bakery, you can also shop for food and merchandise on theonline store.

    Dog Tag Bakery is located at 3206 Grace Street NW and is open Wednesday through Sunday.

    Link: http://dcist.com/2015/01/first_look_dog_tag_bakery.php

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  • CBS News: Wounded veterans find recipe for their futures at Dog Tag Bakery Date: January 17, 2015

    Welcome to Dog Tag Bakery, now open in Washington, D.C., after eight years of planning and prayer. "I never gave up because I knew that this was a good work," founder Rick Curry said.

    Curry had the "prayer" part covered. As for other, secular resources, this Jesuit priest partnered up with a real estate mogul named Connie Milstein.

    "He is the Jesuit father, and I am the Jewish godmother," Milstein said at the bakery's opening ceremony.

    Both wanted to help disabled veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan ease into the next chapter of their lives. They opened Dog Tag to make sure the vets would have marketable skills.

    "I was trained as a baker as a very young Jesuit, and I thought, 'I'm going to teach them how to bake,'" Curry recalls.

    Here, the fellows, as they're called, learn not just how to bake but also how to run the business of a bakery. Veterans like retired Army Ranger Sedrick Banks, whose neck was broken in a mortar attack in Iraq.

    "Dog Tag was my first major step back into the working mindset," Banks said. "Before the program, I didn't have confidence. I didn't feel like I had the ability. Now I'm confident in myself, you know?"

    "The world thinks that disabled veterans can't be hired. And that's absolutely absurd," Curry said. "And we're here to prove them wrong."

    Father Rick knows a little something about proving people wrong: He was born with just one arm.

    "I believe that disability is a gift," Curry said. "It's very hard. It's very difficult. It can be difficult to accept but in the long run to accept your disability as a gift is positive."

    Sgt. Banks rediscovered his identify here, which is what makes the name of this place so fitting -- identity, after all, being the purpose of a dog tag. It's just one of the many things Father Rick has baked into his program.

    "I want our fellows here to be happy," Curry said. "I want them to be successful, but I also want them to be happy."

    The program to teach the vets the small business skills they'd need to run a bakery is done in partnership with Georgetown University.

    Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/wounded-veterans-find-recipe-for-their-futures-at-dog-tag-bakery/

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  • Thrillist: 10 New DC Bars & Restaurants You Should Hit in 2015 Date: January 7th, 2015

    You can get a pastry and a coffee at any bakeshop, or you can support a place that has a lot of heart (and talent!). Dog Tag Bakery hires and trains wounded veterans. When the vets aren’t making irresistible confections, sandwiches, and breads, they’re taking classes at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, to acquire skills to run a business. The cozy environment and cool touches, like an old-school dog tag-maker and a dog tag chandelier, make it the perfect place to plop down with a chocolate financier.

    Link: http://www.thrillist.com/eat/washington-dc/new-washington-dc-bars-and-restaurants-washington-dc-openings

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  • WTTG (FOX): #BakingADifference: Dog Tag Bakery gives wounded veterans a fresh start Date: December 19th, 2014

    A new bakery in Georgetown is making much more than your breakfast. At Dog Tag Bakery, they're making a difference in the lives of wounded veterans and their families.

    Dog Tag Bakery is a bakery, but it's also a not-for-profit entrepreneurial program for disabled veterans and their spouses which helps give them a fresh start. Participants do actual classroom time at Georgetown University, while also getting hands-on training and working at the bakery.

    When all is said and done, they get a certificate in business administration and entrepreneurship—and more importantly, opportunity for a bright future. Proceeds from the bakery go right back into the program.

    Right now, Dog Tag Bakery is open five days a week. In January, they'll be open 12 hours a day. Click here for updated hours and information

    Link: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/27669276/dog-tag-bakery-wounded-veterans

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  • HUFFINGTON POST: Baking a Difference Date: December 9th, 2014

    The men and women who risk their lives for our freedom deserve our unwavering support as they return to civilian life and begin their next chapter. Advocating for that belief has become a passion of mine, and for that reason, Father Rick Curry and I are proud to announce the grand opening of Dog Tag Bakery in Washington, D.C.

    The transition from military to civilian life is not easy. My own father dealt with such challenges when he boarded a hospital plane to return to the United States in 1945. He told me about all the other veterans who rode back home with him in hammocks and on stretchers. I remember the day he showed me a dollar bill, which everyone on the plane had signed so they would always remember that trip and each other. When he passed away, my mother showed me his wallet that still contained the dollar bill. He had carried that dollar - and those memories - with him all those years.

    It is because of my father, friends I lost in Vietnam, and those who continue to defend our freedom today that I am dedicated to our military and to helping empower and care for our military families.

    After bonding over our love of baking a few years ago, Father Curry and I joined forces to create a program that draws on our personal and professional experiences of running successful businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as serving the veterans community and persons with disabilities. Through Dog Tag Bakery, we hope to create a supportive environment so that the men and women who have given so much to their country can find success in a new and enriching chapter in their lives. We say that we're 'Baking a Difference' which really sums up what we strive for every day - to empower our returning vets and their families with an education in entrepreneurship.

    But this is so much more than a bakery. Dog Tag is also a work-study program that supports veterans by providing them with a high-quality business education in partnership with Georgetown University's continuing education program. The proceeds from the bakery are reinvested in the education program so that more veterans can acquire the skills they need to build a successful civilian career.

    The inaugural class of Dog Tag fellows was chosen in the spring of 2014. The class consisted of five men and five women, all with disabilities and either active duty or retired from serving with the Marines, Army and Navy. The class also included spouses and caregivers. This elite group of men and women embody a diverse range of ranks and decorations as well as expertise - from telecommunications to infantry and military police to ombudsman.

    On November 19, seven members of the first fellowship class graduated with a certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies. I couldn't be more proud. I can't wait to see what they accomplish as they put their skills to work and start pursuing their own entrepreneurial dreams. I also look forward to welcoming the second class of fellows in early 2015.

    As we break bread on Saturday at our Georgetown store, we will welcome the community to taste free samples of our sweet and savory treats. But more importantly, we hope to inspire people to support our veterans however they can.

    Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/connie-milstein/baking-a-difference_b_6280876.html

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  • DC EATER: Dominique Ansel, Inventor of the Cronut, Comes to Washington Date: November 3rd, 2014

    The man behind the Cronut, a wildly popular doughnut-croissant pastry, is coming to Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Dominique Ansel, head chef at Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York, will be in town on Thursday & Friday to promote his new book: Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes. He'll also be meeting with a group of veterans, who are working out of the soon-to-open Dog Tag Bakery in Georgetown.

    On Thursday night, Ansel will make a public appearance at a conversation and book signing with Washingtonian's Todd Kliman, but don't expect any Cronuts. Ansel will be passing out samples of his Christmas Morning Cereal dessert. Those who are willing can try to replicate the Cronut with a recipe found inside his new book. The event, called "Breakfast for Dessert," is being hosted by (and at) the Smithsonian from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. and includes some star D.C. pastry chefs: Tiffany MacIsaac (Buttercream Bakeshop/Open Kitchen), Susan Limb (Praline Bakery), Santosh Tiptur (Co Co. Sala) and Caitlin Dysart (2941 Restaurant). Tickets are still available online for $30 for general admissionand $60 for general admission plus a book.

    On Friday, Ansel will be at Dog Tag to talk food entrepreneurship; the bakery itself is in the process of a start-up. Dog Tag will open in early December and is a nonprofit aimed at training and employing veterans inside a fully operational kitchen. Ansel will do a hard hat tour of the new space, as well as a meet-and-greet with the program's fellows.

    Link: http://dc.eater.com/2014/11/3/7150549/dominique-ansel-inventor-of-the-cronut-comes-to-washington

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  • WASHINGTON POST EXPRESS: Dog Tag Inc. gives wounded veterans job training and an education Date: November 3rd, 2014

    “Perfect,” Milena Mateo-Ortiz, 47, says as she weighs a pat of butter on an electronic scale at Union Kitchen, a shared cooking space in Northeast. On this day in September, the smell of chocolate hangs in the oven-baked air. When Milena isn’t looking, her husband, Lizandro Mateo-Ortiz, 51, removes a smidgen from the scale to make the measurement more exact.

    The two, wearing matching M&M T-shirts, work with the speed and precision of an experienced emergency room team as they prepare puff pastries.

    “When you’ve been married for 24 years, you learn how to work together,” Milena says.

    Despite their dexterity in the kitchen, neither has a professional background in baking. But as members of the inaugural class of Dog Tag Inc., both are eager to learn.

    The new local nonprofit, founded by philanthropists Rick Curry and Connie Milstein, looks to baking as a way to ease wounded veterans and their spouses back into civilian life.

    During the six-month program, fellows run a storefront in Georgetown dubbed Dog Tag Bakery, where they interact with customers, fulfill catering orders and prepare cookies, banana bread, French loaves, eclairs and tea cakes. The bakery, at 3206 Grace St. NW, officially opens to the public on Saturday. (Construction on the storefront recently wrapped, which is why fellows had been recipe-testing out of Union Kitchen.)

    It’s not all profiteroles and powdered sugar for participants.

    A fellowship with Dog Tag Inc. also includes a rigorous course load at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, where members take classes in corporate finance, marketing, principles of management and business statistics.

    Each of the seven veterans in the inaugural Dog Tag class — who were selected from a pool of 117 applicants — graduated last month with a certificate of business administration.

    “Our success will depend on how successful our students are upon leaving,” says Meghan Ogilvie, the program’s chief operating officer. “Our vets deserve not only a quality education, but a quality job.”

    The program’s demanding schedule is a natural fit for Lizandro, who learned to embrace structure in a strict family of nine. That background served him well when he joined the Army in 1981.

    “In three years, I was a staff sergeant,” Lizandro says. “Normally that takes seven years.”

    In 2007, while Lizandro was stationed in Iraq, his utility vest got snagged on a Humvee and he was dragged underneath. He managed to get loose, and rolled to safety after he was nearly crushed by a back tire.

    During the accident, Lizandro’s stomach ended up in his throat, and he had to have multiple surgeries to reposition it, as well as surgeries on his shoulder, knees, ankles and spine.

    Today, Lizandro is able to walk with a cane and a leg brace. “You just deal with life as it comes, one day at a time,” he says.

    He and Milena hope to apply the skills they learn through Dog Tag Inc. to opening a Latin American restaurant in the D.C. area.

    Fellow Dog Tagger Anthon Calix-Hestick expects he’ll pursue a career in marketing rather than the culinary arts. (He jokes that he can barely make cake in a box and dislikes washing dishes too much to cook professionally.)

    “I never saw myself in this kind of program. I told my buddies and they laughed,” says Calix-Hestick, who served in the Marines. “But being around other vets and spouses in the program helps me readjust. If you’re a vet, you understand what I’m going through, so it’s easier to relate with someone that’s been there.”

    One of Calix-Hestick’s favorite parts of the program is the communications class — or, as members have come to refer to it, “theater class.”

    A chandelier made of dog tags hangs above the stage in the bakery. (Jason Hornick/For Express)

    “It’s really big on explaining how we feel and all of our emotions,” he says. “We learn how to broadcast our stories properly so people can relate.”

    The class prepares veterans for occasional spoken-word events that will take place at the bakery, which is equipped with a stage where veterans will address audiences about their experiences.

    Another member, Sedrick Banks, is an Army vet who suffered brain injuries in combat.

    He plans to apply his business skills to becoming a life coach and starting his own nonprofit.

    “I could go into all the training that Dog Tag has offered, but the biggest thing it’s helped me with is transitioning from a wounded warrior back into society,” Banks says. “It’s helped me recognize my capabilities, despite my injuries.”

    From Baghdad to bakery

    In addition to the seven fellows, Dog Tag Bakery employs a support staff of men and women with experience in combat zones, who technically aren’t veterans because they haven’t served in the military.

    Sham Hasan, above right, is a former translator for the U.S. Army who was born and raised in Baghdad, where he studied English. In 2006, he was kidnapped and tortured by militia because his uncle was caught supporting the Kurdish military.

    Upon being rescued, Hasan worked as a translator for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and at the U.S. security gate at Baghdad International Airport. In 2011, Hasan became a U.S. Army senior interpreter.

    After a 3½-year bureaucratic struggle, Hasan received a visa and moved to the United States. “I made it from Iraq to here and this is my first job,” Hasan says. “Dog Tag is my second home.”

    Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2014/12/04/dog-tag-inc-gives-wounded-veterans-job-training-and-an-education/

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