Operation Phantom Support is a Killeen-based non-profit dedicated to helping veterans, first responders, and active-duty military begin their careers.
Through their Veterans 2 Employment program, they are not only helping them find jobs, but they are also helping those transitioning out of the military become franchise owners.
"Soldiers transitioning out of the Army can actually use this program while they are getting ready to get out and decide 'Hey I want to get a franchise," said John Valentine, Founder and CEO of Operation Phantom Support. "So they can come from skill bridge while they’re still active duty and mentor them and get them ready to go and hopefully get them into franchise.”
Their latest venture will be Axe Monkey Fort Hood, a family-friendly axe throwing and entertainment center located in Killeen.
"So it’s an axe throwing venue where families come and the throw axes and they have targets in a good family fun kind of environment," said Valentine. "It’s a really good franchise right now because axe throwing is a big thing in the country right now and a lot of people are doing it.”
It’s not just about axe throwing, they will also have rooms that are being converted into private party rooms and they are building a unique rage room.
"We are going to have a special rage room that is going to have a car in it," said Valentine. "You come in, buy a block of time and go in with a sledgehammer and beat up a car for five minutes because you had a bad day at work.”
Zachary Smiley who just got out of the Army, is helping to build the Axe Monkey Fort Hood in Killeen where he will work for two years before getting his own location.
"I got to work with the boss program in the military, said Smiley. "I got to interact with soldiers and put on events and work on community service projects. So, I feel like this franchise opportunity was a great fit for me transitioning out and the opportunity just came at a great time.”
Getting to own his own Axe Monkey location is an opportunity he knows was only possible through Operation Phantom support and the Veterans 2 Employment program.
"Oh it’s a crazy opportunity," said Smiley. "It’s something I never really imagined coming out of the military. I came in as a MI guy and expected to go into the MI world afterwards.”
Operation Phantom Support is proving to be one of Central Texas' most active non-profit and adding the Veterans 2 Employment program is a big step to continuing what they do.