What began as a small gesture by a waitress at a Texas based Bennigan’s, has now grown into a national campaign to honor members of the military. A picture of a pint of beer left by a Navy veteran to honor one of his own was posted to facebook by waitress Hannah Hobbs who “couldn’t pour it out without having everyone know about it.” President and CEO of Bennigan’s Paul Mangiamele spoke with CNN to discuss how one picture, which has now received 2 million likes on facebook, is creating something legendary to honor our nation’s veterans.
The pint of beer, which was left for LT JG Francis Toner who was killed in action March 27th 2009 in Afghanistan as he ran into the line of fire, has sparked Mangiamele to give back to the millions of veterans that are coming home to find work. “As part of IFA’s Operation Enduring Opportunity program, we will waive the entire franchise fee for any veteran that qualifies for financing”, said Mangiamele. “It gives vets the chance to flex their entrepreneurial muscles and hopefully hire other veterans as part of their team.” By eliminating a franchise fee of 30,000 dollars it “will help get veterans off to a great start as they begin to come home to the workforce,” Mangiamele stated.
As hundreds of thousands of veterans come home to try and find jobs, the IFA and franchised businesses launched Operation Enduring Opportunity, a commitment to hire and recruit as franchise business owners, 75,000 veterans and their spouses and 5,000 Wounded Warriors by 2014. Since last year, 6,900 veterans have started careers in franchising, including over 4,200 new veteran business owners. ”With over 70,000 veteran-owned franchises in operation already and a million troops returning home in the coming years, franchise businesses are looking to create employment opportunities for our returning heroes,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira.