CAVU Impact Partner: Dog Tag Fellowship Program Propels Transitioning Veterans

Lauren Warner was four years into her five-year enlistment contract with the United States Army and was preparing her application packet for Officer Candidate School when her world was suddenly turned upside down. Her husband, Seldon (who was also in the Army), suffered a blast injury that left him with non-epileptic seizures that could be triggered by stress or anxiety. Seldon was forced into medical retirement, while Lauren was given a Family Hardship Separation from the Army. With little warning—and even less preparation—Lauren had to leave the military to find work that she could do from home while Seldon underwent treatment for his condition at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Enter Dog Tag Inc.’s fellowship program (DTFP). The DTFP provides post-9/11 veterans with service-related disabilities, military spouses, and caregivers with a bridge between military service and the civilian world. The goal of the DTFP is simple—to equip participants with the tools and education they need to build resilience, find renewed purpose, and forge community beyond the military. Over five months, DTFP fellows receive hands-on experience via classes and labs that challenge them to learn and develop skills crucial to success in their future careers. Fellows spend more than 100 hours doing coursework to earn a customized business certificate from either Georgetown University in Washington D.C. or Loyola University in Chicago. Through one-on-one mentorships, workshops, and coaching sessions with business leaders from a variety of industries, fellows gain clarity and focus on what they want to achieve in their careers moving forward. The DTFP also provides fellows with stipends for living expenses so that they can focus their energy on excelling and completing the program.

Thanks to the experience she gained in the military and the DTFP training, Lauren was able to start offering marketing and social media services to fellow DTFP alums. This work gave her the income she needed to support herself and her husband, as well as the flexibility she needed to help him through his journey toward recovery. “It (DTFP) was a nice landing pad for both of us,” Lauren says. “It gave me a little bit of space to try to figure out what I wanted to do.” Today, Lauren has found a way to combine two of her biggest loves—writing and coffee—by running the blog for Black Rifle Coffee Company. Since opening its doors in 2014, the DTFP has impacted the lives of 288 veterans, military spouses, and caregivers. Classes are kept small (a maximum of 16 Fellows per cohort) and applicants undergo a rigorous interview process to ensure that they are a good fit for the program. As a result, the DTFP boasts a 90% graduation rate. On November 17, 2023, Dog Tag held graduation ceremonies for Cohort 18 (DC) and Cohort 4 (Chicago). Many members of the CAVU team got to know these graduates personally while serving as mentors during the “Pitch Your Purpose” and resume Review events. CAVU is proud to contribute to its success through our continued support of the Dog Tag Fellowship Program.