For Joseph Hines, Veteran’s Day 2015 marked the beginning of a turnaround. A former member of the 1st Infantry Division, one of the first units to enter Iraq, Joseph spent nearly five years in the military before receiving a medical discharge in 2007. The return to civilian life proved difficult. Culinary school and work were derailed by surgery to repair a spinal fracture suffered during airborne training. Much of the next eight years were spent living in and out of homelessness and dealing with an addiction to the painkillers he developed after surgery.
Even in the middle of his darkest periods, Joseph always prized Veteran’s Day. At the VA, which Joseph frequented for therapy and treatment, he and the other vets would pass the list of businesses offering gifts and discounts and plan the day. “I know a lot of veterans that never leave their apartment, but they’ll come out for that day,” Joseph says.
On November 11, 2015, Joseph began his day at Starbucks with a free coffee. Next, he went to EMP (now MoPop). “They said, Thank you for your service,” he says. “I didn’t have to pay for anything. I was awfully broke--a lot of us wind up broke for a variety of reasons. But during the hardest times of my life, there was that one day of the year when I could go out and participate without feeling different than everyone else.” Later in the day, a conversation about his service led to a job offer: selling art at a stand in the Pike Place Market. Being out in the community, talking to civilians—feeling normal again—and staying clean—gave him a new outlook.
“It changed everything,” he says.
He moved in with his parents in Kirkland. Pagliacci pizza was his favorite meal. “I ordered a lot,” he says. “I was a Super-Customer. On one visit, I noticed they were hiring. I applied and got a part-time job, mainly so I would qualify for their food discount.”
A great work ethic and strong culinary skills soon led to a promotion. Joseph decided to focus on one job and started full-time at Pagliacci. He became a shift leader. In 2017, he moved to our Broadway store. In 2019, he was promoted to associate manager at our Mercer Island store.
Last year, with Veteran’s Day approaching, Joseph approached Pagliacci’s management team, told his story, and wondered if Pagliacci might be able to offer some kind of gift to veterans on their day. Of course! And we’re doing it again this year!
On Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, November 11, all Pagliacci stores that sell slices will give two away to any veteran who comes in with a valid Veterans Identification Card. “I’m really proud of Pagliacci for doing this,” Joseph says. “I can’t wait to tell my veteran brothers and sisters in the Seattle area.”
This year, we promoted Joseph to General Manager of our busy Madison Valley store, where he has excelled. In even bigger news, Joseph will soon be married to his partner, Veronica, a supervisor at the Regional 9-1-1 Center for South King County. “The stability and structure that Pagliacci has given me changed everything,” Joseph says. “Training and mentoring the young employees at my store has given me a level of self-respect and pride in life that I never thought was attainable.”
We’re very proud of Joseph and honored to support veterans for their service.