America Supports You: Injured Vet Finds Future with Pizza Chain
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2007 A U.S. veteran who lost both legs in 2004 when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq will begin a new career because his indomitable spirit moved a total stranger to give back to those who have served their country.
Army Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty and Michael Ilitch, the founder of Little Caesars Pizza, one of nation’s largest pizza chains, proudly stood side by side for the grand opening of the veteran’s new pizza store in Paducah, Ky., yesterday.
Doughty, 31, was honorably discharged from the Army in July 2004 and began a long road to recovery facing an uncertain future with his young family. As he endured months of rehabilitation, he never gave up hope, never lost his courageous spirit and learned to walk again, he said.
Ilitch who, along with Little Caesars Pizza, owns Major League Baseball’s world champion Detroit Tigers and the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, read about Doughty in a Nov. 23, 2004, USA Today article.
Ilitch was so moved by Doughty’s courage and determination that he called the Kentucky veteran to thank him for serving the country. After many conversations, Ilitch offered Doughty an opportunity to open his own Little Caesars Pizza franchise in his hometown of Paducah.
“Doughty stood strong for our country. I was so impressed by his courage, commitment and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity, that I wanted to do something,” Ilitch said. “Offering him a new career path in his hometown seemed like a good transition. Doughty’s ‘can-do’ attitude will make him a strong Little Caesars franchisee.”
Doughty accepted Ilitch’s offer and followed his suggestion to find a business partner. His choice was fellow veteran Lloyd Allard, who served with Doughty in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, in a dangerous area in Iraq.
“After a career in the military, I was open to a new venture,” Doughty said. “Our military background and familiarity with systems, processes and a teamwork management style make the Little Caesars franchise a good fit.
“Opening a business and becoming an entrepreneur will definitely be an exciting new chapter in my life for my family and me,” he said.
“From day one, Doughty was ready for his next challenge,” Allard said. “With our leadership skills and Little Caesars’ training and ongoing support system, we look forward to becoming strong franchisees and sharing our experience with other veterans.”
Their story also prompted Ilitch to launch a new, innovative franchise program to provide qualified, honorably discharged veterans with a business opportunity when they transition to civilian life or seek a career change. The program provides a benefit of $10,000 for qualified veterans and up to $68,000 in benefits for service-disabled veterans.
“Doughty and Allard inspired me with a vision: to develop a program to create career opportunities for military veterans,” Ilitch said. “I believe that it’s important for Little Caesars and corporate America to thank the men and women who have served in the armed forces and this program offers an exceptional opportunity for veterans who are seeking new career options.”
(From a Little Caesars Pizza news release.)