It's an everyday occurrence for uniformed personnel to be in my restaurant as well as the military family members living on the nearby bases. Since I'm familiar with military ranks and uniforms, I make it a point to address each uniformed guest by his or her rank and express my gratitude for their service. The economy of my area is largely dependent on those stationed there, and I know that their time to eat at LongHorn is a treat, so we strive to make each meal memorable.
My whole team knows the importance of honoring those who have served and are serving. A large portion of my team consists of military children and spouses. Some of them may only be at our restaurant for a short time due to the nature of redeployment. I want my team to know that I'm understanding and supportive of their circumstances. When I've had my team members’ spouses deployed, I try to sympathize as best as I can and give them someone to talk to during the difficult time.
One opportunity that I'm particularly proud of is our recent support of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), which provides support and assistance to personnel serving in the U.S. Special Operations Command. This organization does amazing things to help the families of those who lose a Special Operations family member as well as Special Operations personnel who are wounded while deployed. Every year our community holds a benefit that supports SOWF. We donate food for the event and gift cards for raffles. During the event, SOWF presented two young women, who had lost their father in Operation Anaconda, with a grant for their college educations. Supporting SOWF is just one of the ways I can think of to show our respect and infinite gratitude to our nation's heroes.
I know that I am just one of the many who have served and appreciate any opportunity to serve as a liaison and advocate for veterans. Even at Darden, we have so many veterans throughout the organization. I appreciate our commitment to hiring veterans and the steps taken to acknowledge us. I joined the U.S. Army in 1986 and served during The Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm). After my time in the Army, I finished school then entered the restaurant industry, gaining management experience. I later joined the Darden family in 2009. Darden has supported me and my personal objectives as I am now in graduate school working toward a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. I hope to continue to grow within Darden and help increase awareness about and support for veterans in our communities and within the company.
Pat served in the U.S. Army as a member of the 24th Infantry Division in the Gulf War.
Darden would like to thank all of our nation’s veterans, including Pat and the many others within the Darden family. Please see this compilation of gratitude for your service. This video was created while our employee volunteers assembled care packages to be sent to deployed troops and was first shared internally to our veterans working at Darden.