In 2006, I left the Marine Corps after four years unsure where life would take me. After two years in college, I took a chance and joined the “family business” at Darden. I was born into Darden via my mother, who joined Darden nearly 40 years ago and now works for Red Lobster. I was attracted to Darden by its family values, the same ones I felt during my time serving my country as a Marine in Iraq.
I’m proud of my military service and consider it honorable, but I don’t seek recognition for it. I’m happy, though, that Darden, where I’ve worked for nine years, has treated me and other veterans well. Each year, everyone in our company receives a message from President and CEO Gene Lee thanking veterans for defending our nation, freedom and way of life.
I regularly brag about Darden, but I do it even more around Veterans Day. We recognize our military heroes for their service with special offers on the holiday. Olive Garden provides a free meal from a special menu, Yard House offers a complimentary appetizer, and our newest brand, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, offers a free appetizer or dessert. LongHorn Steakhouse offers a free appetizer or dessert, and the entire table can enjoy 10 percent off their meal.
Darden also supports veterans and their families through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership. This program connects military spouses with more than 360 partner employers to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in portable careers. Darden also employs veterans in its restaurants and at the Restaurant Support Center (RSC) in Orlando, FL, where I work.
Before moving to the RSC, where I’m an employee relations manager for LongHorn, I worked as a restaurant manager for LongHorn. There I keenly felt the effects of my company’s recognition of veterans on Veterans Day. To see the number of veterans and their families that came into our restaurants brought a sense of pride for me as a veteran and a member of the Darden family. I am forever grateful for everything Darden has done for me as a veteran and an employee of this company.