COLUMBIA, Md (WMAR) — A Pennsylvania-based company is helping veterans across the nation, including in Baltimore, with business ownership and job opportunities.
“We knew that this was the perfect fit for myself and my family,” said U.S. Marine Corps veteran Theodore Proia.
Proia owns the local franchise of JDog Junk Removal and Hauling, covering Howard County to the PA line.
JDog Brands was founded by an army vet and his wife when they recognized the struggle many veterans face acclimating back to civilian life.
They create business ownership opportunities exclusively for veterans and their families with more than 260 JDog franchises across the country.
Proia opened his franchise in November of 2020 with the hope of lowering the veteran unemployment rate by only employing veterans and their family members… because he knows how important job opportunities with training are.
He was just 17 years old when he joined the Marine Corps. Over eight years, he served two tours overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He came back to work in private security, before going back to Afghanistan as a private contractor for canine explosive detection. That's when he started feeling trapped.
“Moving into something else was difficult because I didn’t have any skills outside of the military operations, which is great for the security field but once you start having kids, you want to spend more time at home so you can be with them and it was rough. I was always gone. I missed a lot of time with my kids so eventually it was enough is enough,” said Proia.
Now he applies that work ethic to the job. They don’t just take the junk to the dump. They try to re-purpose it.
“Anything that works, we’ll go ahead and get that cleaned up and then find another home for it. That can be through donation centers, individuals, different organizations, but our goal is always to re-purpose as much as we can. It’s good for the local community. It’s good for the planet,” said Proia.
In the past, they’ve donated furniture to organizations who help people escape abusive situations.
His next mission—partnering with the local VA to create a pipeline to connect vets with job opportunities.
“Hopefully that’s gonna work out and we will be able to get more veterans jobs,” said Proia.