The award recognizes Ilitch's support of veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program. The Little Caesars Veterans Program provides honorably discharged, service-disabled veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees a benefit of up to $68,000. Honorably discharged, non service-disabled veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees are eligible for a benefit of $10,000.
"Michael Ilitch has demonstrated great patriotism by providing business opportunities to honorably discharged veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program," Nicholson said. "This award, the highest honor my office can bestow, represents the VA's appreciation of a Detroit business leader who is making a difference for U.S. military veterans as they transition to civilian life or make a career change."
Interest in the Little Caesars Veterans Program remains high. Currently, more than 1,100 inquiries have been made about the program and 15 veterans have been approved to become Little Caesars franchisees.
The first Little Caesars store was opened under the program by veteran Martin Lorenz on July 31, 2007, in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Four more veterans are expected to open stores under the program by the end of 2007.
Past recipients of the Secretary's Award include singers Toby Keith and Wayne Newton, actress Bo Derek, and NASCAR driver Richard Petty.
Also in Washington, the Little Caesars Love Kitchen provided hot pizza meals Sept. 17, 2007, for approximately 250 people in need in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs building in downtown Washington, D.C.