TAMPA, Fla. - Bryan Jacobs has a novel idea for how to help veterans: he's teaching them to become chefs. Jacobs founded Vets2Chefs, a 12-week culinary training program that teaches veterans skills they need to enter the restaurant business.
The program teaches cooking alongside other essential skills for work in the culinary industry. Jacobs' students say the program gives them direction, and a way to focus their energy into a job future beyond the military.
"I love cooking. It's really fun to me. I'm passionate about it," Army veteran Pat Cronin told Fox 13. "I look forward to going to work every day, and I haven't had that for a long time."
When Jacobs left the Marines, he was briefly homeless, and then lost his brother to suicide on Memorial Day weekend in 2014. Jacobs said that moment gave him direction, as he resolved to use his love of cooking to help other veterans who might be struggling.
"When my brother took his life, he gave my life purpose," said Jacobs. "I already had the passion for food, but I didn't have the purpose behind what I wanted to do with food."
Now, Jacobs says his program serves a purpose for both his students and for businesses.
"We've kind of started to see a real need, not only from a veteran's standpoint, but also from an industry standpoint. Veterans needing great jobs, but the industry needing great people."