NRAEF aims to get vets into the food industry

Jake Hughes
June 01, 2018 - 9:46 am

We all know it can be hard for some service members to find gainful employment after they leave the military. Joe Infantryman's resume might not make a lot of sense to a business owner. Plus, sometimes you want to find work unrelated to your MOS. According to Sue Crystal-Mansour, there's an industry that welcomes vets with open arms that they might not think of immediately: food service.

Sue is the Vice-President of Program Impact for the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, an organization that does a lot of different things to help place veterans in the food service industry."What do you need to be successful in the food service industry?" Sue asks. "It's teamwork, it's customer service and interaction, it's seeing the ultimate goal and being able to come up with a plan. I think the military directly trains for these things." It isn't just cooks they want to get employed; every aspect of the dining experience, from waiters to managers, and even restaurant owners are needed. 

The NRAEF prepares vets for the industry in multiple ways.The NRAEF gives out approximately $750,000 in grants and scholarships annually. They also operate an apprenticeship program through the Department of Labor that links veterans up with big companies in an "Earn as you Learn" sort of program. They offer certifications for active duty service members, and even have initiatives to train and mentor spouses and children 16 and older. "At the NRAEF," Sue says, "we're all about attraction, empowerment, and advancement." The food industry already hires around 100,000 service members each year. According to Sue, when they look at percentages, a great number of upper management come from a military background.

They are not just helping veterans find work, they are also dedicated to improving food service quality on post. Each year, they send dozens of certified professionals to dining facilities and chow halls across the country. 

When asked why the NRAEF does so much for veterans, Sue got a puzzled look on her face, as if to say the answer was painfully obvious. "I mean, how do you thank service members and families that go out there. It's like asking a military member why they put themselves on the front line for all those people back home. And how do you support this person when they're ready for their next step? Well, we, as an industry, are so thankful for their service, and want to in every way support those who support us."

For more information about the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, visit their website.

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