Starbucks Corporation announced a significant hiring milestone and investments to further bridge the gap between the military and civilians since only 12 percent of the U.S. public understands the service and sacrifice of the one percent who have served. Starbucks has hired more than 5,500 veterans and military spouses, surpassing the halfway mark to reaching its commitment made in 2013 to hire 10,000 by 2018. Additionally, to better address the needs of partners (employees) who are active duty or reservists in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard, Starbucks announced a new pay-for-service-benefit, which will cover up to 80 hours of pay each year for service obligations.

Starbucks, which already offers a tuition-free education to eligible U.S. partners through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, also announced it is providing partners who are current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with an additional tuition-free education to extend to a spouse or child. More than 4,000 partners already take advantage of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan education benefit in partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) to earn a bachelor’s degree with 100 percent tuition coverage. ASU, with nearly 4,200 veterans and 1,000 military family members enrolled at the university, also demonstrates a strong commitment to veterans and military families through scholarships and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and has been named one of the nation’s “Best for Vets” colleges by the Military Times.

“We have a responsibility as a nation to honor our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, but it goes beyond saying thank you; we must put our thanks into action and collectively help those who are making the transition from military to civilian life,” says Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. “Not only do we have a moral duty to engage veterans once they leave the service, we know that doing so in a meaningful way will ultimately strengthen our nation.”

Starbucks has invested in several key strategies to scale hiring across the nation including: hiring four dedicated military recruiters in key focus cities across the country including Seattle, D.C., and Austin; establishing more than 80 connections with military bases, installing transition and educational offices across the country and overseas; attending more than 200 military hiring fairs across the nation that recruit veterans and military spouses; and expanding the partner affinity group, the Starbucks Armed Forces Network, from one to 12 regional chapters, connecting veterans and creating mentorships across the company to ease transition from military to civilian life.

To further accelerate hiring and reconnect military service members with the broader communities, Starbucks continues to expand its Military Family Store concept in partnership with veteran and military service organizations near U.S. military bases. Military Family Stores are run by veterans and military spouses and partner with organizations like Blue Star Families, Team Red, White, and Blue, The Mission Continues, the USO, and others, to offer transition services and build connections between military and civilian communities. The company has already dedicated 16 Military Family Stores with plans to dedicate a total of 30 across the country by the end of 2016.

In addition to building a pipeline of employment opportunities for transitioning veterans and military spouses, Starbucks is creating connections for these individuals with both civilian and veteran networks for improved reintegration through Military Family Stores, military service organization relationships, and other initiatives such as:

  • Military Mondays: This program provides a venue where advocates and veterans can meet at Starbucks to address a variety of transition barriers. In partnership with William and Mary Law School, Starbucks hosts a Military Monday clinic in a Williamsburg, Virginia, store where veterans and military families can benefit from free legal advice, with six additional Military Monday clinics currently in development and plans for a total of 20 clinics in Starbucks stores across the country.
  • Dog Tag Bakery: Starbucks is working with this D.C.-based nonprofit that seeks to educate and train newly transitioned veterans with disabilities to become entrepreneurs and is currently offering Dog Tag Bakery Baguette Chips as part of a test in 25 D.C.-area Starbucks stores.
  • Convening Thought Leaders: In the spirit of learning from others, last month, Starbucks and the Schultz Family Foundation cohosted a day of discussion around the military and civilian drift, convening employers, veteran service organizations, and the military community with the goal of activating, strengthening, and connecting these efforts to support transitioning veterans and their families. This network of companies, nonprofit organizations, and the military are collaborating on a blueprint to bridge the military civilian drift together.

“It is more important than ever to re-energize the national dialogue surrounding the nation’s armed forces to inspire and influence business, government, nonprofit leaders, and the general public to get involved,” says former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “In doing so, our nation has the opportunity to define a new vision for veterans and their families to feel valued for their service, supported through their transition to civilian life and build a stronger connection to family, home, and country.”

Starbucks recognizes veteran and military spouse partners through patriotic aprons—the company's iconic green apron featuring the American flag and the partner’s military affiliation. The company also has an Honor Wall in the Starbucks Support Center that features thousands of military-style coins, representing the veterans and military spouses who have been hired as part of the company’s military commitment.

In addition to honoring partners and customers who have served our nation through coffee donations to active military stationed overseas, Starbucks provides these opportunities for customers to honor the military through November 11:

  • Starbucks Veterans Card: Available for purchase in select stores and on through November 11. Starbucks will donate $5 to the USO Transition 360 Alliance with every purchase, helping service members and their families transition to civilian life.
  • Starbucks Veterans Mug: Available for purchase in select stores featuring an inscription on the inside, “proudly serving those who serve,” giving customers the opportunity to demonstrate military pride.
  • Coffee Donations: For every Starbucks VIA Instant purchase made on (U.S. only), the company will make a matching donation of Starbucks VIA Instant to the USO for delivery to active duty service members stationed around the world. U.S. partners also will have the opportunity to donate the weekly free coffee mark-out benefit, which will be shipped to the USO for distribution to troops.
  • Free Coffee on Veterans Day: As a gesture of the company’s appreciation for the military community’s sacrifices and contributions, active duty service members, reservists, veterans, and military spouses are invited to enjoy a free tall brewed coffee on Veterans Day.

“Those leaving the military deserve the very best support as they plan to reintegrate into their communities. When Americans complete their military service, the USO is there to support the transition back to civilian life,” says Lisa Anastasi, USO Chief Development Officer. “Partners like Starbucks play an important role in supporting our efforts and enriching our nation’s workforce. With our combined commitment to the USO Transition 360 Alliance, we strive to help the nearly half a million service members and their military families who start the process of transitioning out of the military each year.”

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