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Pizza chain serves up opportunities for veterans


poppyNovember 11, 2008 – Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, when Canadians traditionally take time to honor the men and women who have
served in the nation's armed forces. Many veterans return home with new
or enhanced skills that can be highly valuable in the business world.

Yet life can be difficult for these vets as they
try to reintegrate into civilian life through meaningful work. VOA's
Adam Phillips reports on one corporate program for veterans in which
everyone seems to profit.

On July 8, 2004, Army Sergeant Robbie Doughty was traveling in a military truck convoy in northern Iraq.

"… And just as soon as we hit the Samara bypass there, the vehicle I
was riding in was struck by a roadside bomb. And the shrapnel basically
caused me to lose my right leg above the knee and my left leg below the
knee," he says.

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Army Sergeant Robbie Doughty was serving in northern Iraq in July 2004 when he was wounded by a roadside bomb
Army Sergeant Robbie Doughty was serving in northern Iraq in July 2004 when he was wounded by a roadside bomb
Doughty spent the next five months at the Walter Reed Army Medical
Center hospital in Washington, D.C. He endured repeated surgeries and
hundreds of hours of arduous physical therapy. Finally, he walked out
of the facility on his new high-tech prosthetic legs and returned home
to Paducah, Kentucky. But after 13 years in the Army, Doughty had
little experience of civilian life, and, like many veterans, his
employment prospects were uncertain.
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Meanwhile, a magazine article about wounded veterans praising Doughty's
courage and stamina caught the eye of Michael Ilitch, the founder of
Little Caesars pizza delivery chain. Ilitch was reminded of his own
experience as a young vet with an uncertain future back in 1959, and he
was deeply moved. He telephoned Doughty's home and left a message.

"… And I had no idea what this was going to be about," Doughty recalls.
"And a few days later, I spoke to Mr. Ilitch, and that's when he said
he wanted to offer me the opportunity to open up my own Little Caesars
franchise in Paducah. And of course I seized the opportunity and rolled
with it!"

'Win-Win' Situation

That was three years ago. Doughty's pizza franchise was so successful,
Ilitch asked his company's management team to design a program to help
other veterans become franchisees. The program they devised offers
qualified vets huge discounts on the purchase of a franchise. It also
includes training, support and other benefits worth nearly
$70,000.explains the program's multilayered rationale.

Little Caesars President Dave Scrivano says veterans' commitment and integrity help them succeed in the business world
Little Caesars President Dave Scrivano says veterans' commitment and integrity help them succeed in the business world
"First of all, it's great to give back to the veterans who have given
so much to us," Scrivano says. "So really, just thanking our veterans
for everything that they've done. Giving veterans an opportunity to be
their own boss, to own their own store and be in business for
themselves gives them a sense of pride.

"[But] in addition, it's a good business proposition. So it's a
'win-win' for Little Caesars and for our veterans. Veterans bring a lot
of benefits to Little Caesars [such as] strong personal commitment.
They take initiative. They have high levels of integrity, working with
a team [and] leadership qualities. So there are a lot of things that
veterans bring that fit really well with our business model."

Inspiration, Motivation Key in War and Business

Veteran Robbie Doughty says in business, as in war, leadership is fundamental.

Army Sergeant Robbie Doughty was serving in northern Iraq when he was wounded by a roadside bomb
Doughty says he looks for ways to motivate his employees, just as he tried to motivate privates in the Army
"Our definition of leadership in the military is being able to inspire
and motivate people to do things that they otherwise might not do,"
Doughty explains. "And you take that… into a business [and] instead of
an 18-year-old private in the Army working for you, you have a
17-year-old high school student. They may not want to sit there for
five or six hours and put pepperonis on pizza. And you inspire and
motivate them to do the job and to do it well."

Doughty says whether they're squad leaders or small business owners,
all effective leaders are also, in some sense, psychologists.

"You have to figure out what makes that person tick. What does it take
for Private Doe to get him to accomplish this task? And it's the same
thing in Little Caesars," he says. "I figure out, are they motivated by
time off? Are they motivated by more money? In the military, I might
put them up for a citation, or they may expect to get to go on leave at
a certain time, or whatever the case. It's the same, just different
conditions. If you reward them the way they want to be rewarded,
they'll work for you any day of the week."

Attention to Detail Pays Off

Tricia Evans of Valdosta, Georgia, served in the U.S. Navy for five years
Tricia Evans of Valdosta, Georgia, says she learned about teamwork during her five years of service in the U.S. Navy
Among the other 45 vets who've benefited from the Little Caesars
Veterans Program is retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer Tricia Evans of
Valdosta, Georgia. She says that during her five years of service, she
learned to be a team player and to pay attention to detail, and that
both skills have paid off in her pizza business.

"If I could be specific, you have to make sure you have sauce to go on
the pizza. You have to make sure you have dough to put the sauce on,"
Evans says. "All these things have to work together, and they have to
flow. It's definitely a learning process."

Evans is one of 46 vets who have benefited from the Little Caesars Veterans Program
Evans is one of 46 vets who have benefited from the Little Caesars Veterans Program
There are a growing number of business opportunities geared to vets.
American Corporate Partners, a nationwide mentoring program, pairs
returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with employees from some
of the nation's leading corporations, who offer career counseling and
support. The government's Center for Veterans Enterprise is actively
recruiting other companies to give economic opportunities to veterans,
while helping their own bottom line and making good use of the valuable
skill sets veterans can bring to the workforce.