WHERE DO I BEGIN?
By Jacquelyn Dyer
Where do I begin? The ever-daunting question that hangs over the head of veterans, shortly after making the choice to leave the military: I know what I want, I know where I want to be five years from now, but what is my first step? Learning to walk again on my own after being told how to for the past four years has been an adjustment. I have been out of the service for a little over a year now; I took two days off before starting culinary school. I knew at that time my end goal would be to own a café/bakery, because I love coffee and pastries. I figured school would be my first step because I needed to learn more about how to create the pastries I wanted to sell. The next question: how am I going to be able to afford opening my own place?!
I don’t have huge savings, my credit is decent…who is going to want to help fund my dreams? That’s when I met a stranger at a coffee shop. He informed me of a place called Dog Tag Bakery, located in DC. He said they had a program for veterans who wanted to learn more about business and entrepreneurship.
At first, I was skeptical––at this point I had heard so many stories about illusive veteran programs and how there is so much help out there for veterans wanting to open their own business. I’ve been told “all we have to do is search for the help”…I’ve done research, and I am still doing research trying to find these “amazing” programs. Most of the programs I’ve found have turned out to be marketing techniques, where a business will showcase a veteran to make themselves look better.
Reluctantly, I decided to research Dog Tag Bakery. What I found at Dog Tag Inc. was nothing short of phenomenal. They do not put us in a fish bowl for everyone to awe at; they understand that we have a different outlook because of our military backgrounds, and most importantly they don’t coddle or showcase us. They continuously provide me with a conducive learning environment that is accepting and understanding, but does not make me feel like I am just a veteran. The program is providing me with a first-hand experience on what it takes to run a business, while also giving me the time and space to discover exactly what I want to do with my life post-military. The program is five months long, which sounds like a long time––but it is flying by. I am just beginning my second month here, and the amount of information I’ve already learned in this first month has been tremendous in helping me realize what I need to do to reach my goals. I hope that other veterans read this and look into the program because the possibilities here are endless.
Jacquelyn is a Navy veteran who will graduate from the Dog Tag Fellowship program in June 2018. To learn more about Jackie and other Winter 2018 Dog Tag Fellows, click here!