WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — One retired veteran continued his career after wearing the uniform and is still providing service to others.
"Every Day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day," and here in Warner Robins, the feeling is even stronger, thanks to our ties to Robins Air Force Base and veterans like Leonard Ashford.
After nearly 16 years in the United States Army, Leonard Ashford and his wife Rebecca moved to Warner Robins to start new careers, but it didn't take him very long to put the skills he learned while in the service to work in the community.
"The military teaches you a lot about leadership, how to be productive, responsible, and think on-the-go while adapting and overcoming. Moving to entrepreneurship was just natural to me," Ashford said.
You could say service just comes naturally to Ashford.
He and his wife own several businesses including restaurants like Cluck-N-Waffles and the Georgia Dog located inside the Galleria Mall, as well as a Foodie King truck.
If that wasn't enough, they also run a mobile cleaning service.
His wife Rebecca said, "It's really just a part of who he is. When we met, that's the biggest thing that stood out to me, that his heart for people and how he really wanted to help people and be there for everybody."
"Serving people is just something I love to do. It's just a part of me," Leonard said.
Leonard spent 4 combat tours living all over the world, so being a part of a military town just feels like home to him.
"I was able to come in and adapt to the culture and adapt to the environment, and being a soldier or Marine, Air Force, or whatever, you make your home anywhere," Leonard said.
After celebrating Juneteenth last month and preparing for Independence Day ahead, the Ashfords say they are blessed with the freedoms to provide for so many people while doing what they love.
"It's very important that we embrace each other's differences even though we don't understand sometimes. We all have the rights to express ourselves and all have the right to be free -- for all people, not just people of color -- and as we really truly embrace that, we become better people, and in turn, a better nation," Rebecca stated.
If you think the Ashfords stop with small-business ownership, you'd be wrong. They just added a place of worship to the list, Jireh Christian Ministries, where they serve as Pastor and First Lady, serving the International City and the surrounding area in every way they can.
The Ashfords say there are no new businesses on the horizon, but they are looking into franchising their restaurant Cluck-N-Waffles in the metro Atlanta area and Texas in the near future.