Chili’s Offers Restaurant Careers to Military Veterans Through a Smooth Transition Program

The popular restaurant brand Chili’s offers military veterans a convenient way to reintegrate into civilian life.

A new Department of Defense-funded program called SkillBridge aims to promote a seamless transition for service members returning to the workforce.

Veterans have the option to spend their last three months of service working in “real world” employment – with the option of jumping straight into employment once they leave the military.

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Chili’s is the first and so far only restaurant brand to adopt the new program – and the feedback has been overwhelming.

Air Force veteran Leslye Kinsey is someone to know, as she made the smooth transition to her new job managing the bar and take-out orders at Chili’s Grill & Bar in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Leslye Kinsey, an Air Force veteran, waves an American flag outside a Chili’s restaurant. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

Kinsey told Fox News Digital that the program set her up for success by connecting the skills she used while working in the Air Force services with her civilian position.

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“I have a lot of skills that were needed for this job,” she said.

“Most of my career has been [spent in] food service, so a lot of the training and the cooking and a lot of different hospitality and customer service things I did. »

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Air Force veteran Leslye Kinsey handles food orders in the kitchen at Chili’s in Hendersonville, Tennessee. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

“So when I came to Chili’s, it was kind of the same – I’m just learning to do things the Chili way.”

Kinsey, born in Washington, was active in the Air Force for 22 years. She completed seven deployments and was able to train others and learn about “a lot of different cultures”.

Prior to his retirement in June 2022, Kinsey received information about the Chili program from the grassroots education center.

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Air Force veteran Leslye Kinsey spent 22 years in the military. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

Kinsey said it’s been a “great experience” so far since being selected by Chili’s. She started her new job about five months ago.

“It’s good to see how my military career actually helps and how that translates into the civilian sector,” she said.

Aaron White, chief human resources officer for Chili’s, told Fox News Digital in an interview that the company is “extremely proud” to be the only restaurant brand involved in the program.

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“We are thrilled and honored to be the only restaurant to offer this fast track for transition, she said.

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Aaron White of Brinker International, owner of Chili’s, joined Fox News Digital for an interview Nov. 9, 2022. “It’s about being able to lead a team and being able to hold teams accountable,” she said of veteran skills. (Fox News Digital/Fox News)

Dallas-based Le White said veterans are “especially desirable” for leadership positions at Chili’s because most of them have strong leadership skills.

“It’s about being able to lead a team and being able to hold teams accountable,” she said.

Nine military veterans have succeeded to date in Chile sites across the country.

Veterans on board undergo “extensive hands-on training” to learn the skills needed to work alongside team members and restaurant customers.

White said feedback on the program so far has been “excellent,” as nine military veterans have been successful so far at Chile sites across the country.

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Air Force veteran and Chilean employee Leslye Kinsey of Tennessee works with a team member. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

Kinsey encouraged other service members leaving the military to look into the SkillBridge program to learn “valuable job skills” for future employment.

“It helped me because it gave me a location and it helped me establish myself,” she said.

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“Rather than just leaving the military with no plan, I had somewhere to go and I had something to do,” she said.

The veteran projected that she will continue to “grow and learn” in her career at Chili’s, and that she hopes to earn the rank of general manager in the future.

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Aaron White of Brinker International has worked for the Chili’s brand for 21 years. “Our passion is really to make everyone feel special,” she said. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

Chili’s has been involved with the program for nearly a year, and it’s proven to be “a great fit” for the brand, according to White.

“Our passion is really about making everyone feel special and this connection we’ve made with the military is close to our hearts,” she said.

“Being able to help them transition to civilian life has been amazing for our teams and also for them.”

White, who has worked at Chili’s for 21 years, said the program has helped the brand retain team members and attract desirable new talent.

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The Chili’s Grill and Bar logo is displayed on a table. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

Kinsey urged other companies to consider adopting a program like SkillBridge to help veterans find jobs.

“That way we can reduce our homeless population and give our veterans a chance when they’re out – and show them they’re not forgotten,” she said.

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Kinsey shared a message to former American heroes in honor of Veterans Day.

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Leslye Kinsey’s US Air Force uniform. She also thanks other veterans for their service to our country. (Chili’s Grill & Bar/Fox News)

“You are not forgotten – and your sacrifices are worthwhile,” she said.

“We appreciate all you have done and all the sacrifices you have made to establish our freedoms – and we thank you for that.”

Chili’s continues to give back to American men and women in uniform by maintaining its tradition of feeding veterans free on Veterans Day.

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“Thank you for standing up for our nation and our freedom,” White said.

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