PADUCAH, Ky. (Army News Service, Feb. 1, 2007) - A former Soldier who lost both his legs in an Iraqi-roadside bomb explosion is beginning a new career today because his compelling spirit moved a stranger to give back to those who have served the nation.

Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty is celebrating the grand opening of his Little Caesars pizza franchise in Paducah today, thanks to Michael Ilitch, who offered the opportunity to Doughty.

The former staff sergeant was honorably discharged in July 2004, and began a long road to recovery where he faced an uncertain future with his young family. Enduring months of rehabilitation, he said he never gave up hope, never lost his courageous spirit and eventually learned to walk again.

Michael Ilitch read about Doughty when he was profiled in a November 23, 2004, "USA Today" article. Ilitch was so moved by Doughty's courage and determination that he called Doughty to thank him for serving the nation. After many conversations, Ilitch offered Doughty a business opportunity: to open his own Little Caesars Pizza franchise in his hometown of Paducah.

"Doughty stood strong for our country," said Ilitch. "I was so impressed by his courage, commitment and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity that I wanted to do something. Offering him a new career path in his hometown seemed like a good transition. Doughty's 'can-do' attitude will make him a strong Little Caesars franchisee."

Doughty, 31, accepted Ilitch's offer and followed his suggestion to find a business partner. Doughty asked fellow veteran Lloyd Allard, who served in the 3rd Battalion 5th Special Forces Group in the Sunni Triangle with him, to join the Little Caesars team.

"After a career in the military, I was open to a new venture," said Doughty. "Our military background and familiarity with systems, processes and a teamwork-management style make the Little Caesars franchise a good fit. Opening a business and becoming an entrepreneur will definitely be an exciting new chapter in my life for my family and me."

"From day one, Doughty was ready for his next challenge," said Allard. "With our leadership skills and Little Caesars' training and ongoing support system, we look forward to becoming strong franchisees and sharing our experience with other veterans."

Their story also inspired Ilitch to launch a new, innovative franchise program to provide qualified, honorably discharged veterans with a business opportunity when they transition to civilian life or seek a career change. The program provides a benefit of $10,000 for qualified veterans, and up to $68,000 in benefits for service-disabled veterans.

"Doughty and Allard inspired me with a vision: to develop a program to create career opportunities for military veterans. I believe that it's important for Little Caesars and corporate America to thank the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and this program offers an exceptional opportunity for veterans who are seeking new career options," said Ilitch.

For more information about the Little Caesars Veterans Program, visit <a href="http://www.LittleCaesars.com"target=_blank> www.LittleCaesars.com</a>.

Page last updated Thu February 1st, 2007 at 11:20