Helping Our Veterans With a Sweet Deal

The holiday season is a time of gratitude and celebration, when Americans take account of what is truly important in their lives. This year, let us not forget the debt we owe to our servicemen and women who have spent the past decade in conflicts overseas. These extraordinary heroes have sacrificed greatly to preserve our freedom, our nation, our very way of life, but face serious challenges upon transitioning out of the military.

One of the most fundamental of these difficulties is veteran unemployment. Over the next five years, more than 1 million servicemen and women will return to civilian life, a statistic that is sure to drive up veteran unemployment if we don't do anything about it. Veterans with disabilities, numbering more than 5,000 in the District of Columbia alone, face particular challenges as they enter the workforce.

At Dog Tag Bakery, we believe we have found a solution. Partnered with Connie's Milstein's Foundation Sweet Success, our organization is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing veterans with disabilities and their spouses with education and employment opportunities. The ultimate goal of our program is the empowerment of our veterans as they build more stable lives for themselves and their families.

Beginning in early 2014, we will hire an inaugural class of 12 veterans with disabilities and their spouses for a six month program. During the day, the class will operate our bakery, gaining tangible small business experience. At night, they will undertake a tailor-made curriculum designed to provide them with the entrepreneurial training, leadership development, and personal counseling needed to take that next step into civilian life. Upon completion of the program, Dog Tag will play an integral role in our students' transition to their next job or education opportunity.

We are proud to offer our veterans and their spouses a fair compensation and health benefits package but recognize the cost of such a venture. We need your help to launch this program and make it sustainable in years to come.

As such, this holiday season, Dog Tag Bakery is proud to offer for sale beautifully-made gift baskets, the proceeds of which will help launch our program next year. These wonderful gift ideas -- featuring Dog Tag products and items from Connie's Baking Company -- will include cookies, brownies, biscotti, holiday breads, a copy of my book, The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, and more! For your canine companion's gift this year, we are also offering a doggy basket, complete with chew toy, water bowl, and dog biscuits.

This year, as you put together your holiday list, you can help veterans with disabilities and their families by giving the gift that looks good and does good.