In order to keep us safe, brave men and women willingly risk their lives overseas. Unfortunately, when they return home, they’re often neglected. What’s worse, they usually come back with medical issues making it difficult for them to reintegrate into society and many businesses refuse to hire them because they don’t believe their military experience is transferable. As a result, countless former servicemen are condemned to a life of poverty and dependence.
Thankfully, some businesses have stepped up to help the veteran community. For example, Starbucks has begun creating “Military Family Stores.” These stores primarily employ veterans or spouses of those in the military in an effort to take care of those risking their life for our country. This idea comes after an embarrassing blunder.
After experiencing backlash for their terrible decision to hire 10,000 refugees, Starbucks appears to have changed course. Just recently, the company announced they will be launching a “Military Family Store” program. The shops included in the initiative are primarily operated by veterans and military spouses.
There are currently 37 “Military Family Stores.” The program is a part of a larger promise Starbucks made back in 2013 regarding the hiring of 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2025. These important members of our society deserve all the help we can provide. In 2016, it was reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that roughly 453,000 veterans were unemployed. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development believe that approximately 39,471 veterans are homeless. So far, the company has hired roughly 10,000, but after receiving outrage over their refugee hiring plan, they promised to double down on their efforts to help out patriots in need.
This is not the only military program the company supports. Many of the same stores are also a part of the “Adopt a Military Unit program.” With this program, store partners are able to sponsor units and send “care packages” to active soldiers deployed overseas.
According to their Senior Vice President, John Kelly, the coffee company has the utmost respect for the military. “Service members and military spouses are the best examples of engaged citizens,” he stated. “Long after leaving active duty, they continue to vote, volunteer and serve their communities at a high rate, serving as the best examples of citizenship,” he reasoned, adding, “we are honored to serve as a place where these American heroes can continue to impact their community in a positive way.”
Shannon Feltz, a 14-year military spouse whose husband is a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, is the Store Manager at one of the locations participating in the program. She told reporters, “we are so excited about this announcement,” noting, “I’ve never felt so supported by a company in my life.” She added, “seventy-five percent of my business is the military.”
The coffee chain’s problems started earlier this year after President Donald Trump signed an executive order limiting the influx of non-immigrants from dangerous countries. They made a huge mistake by responding to the order with an announcement that they would begin hiring 10,000 refugees. Understandably, their decision to do so caused many on the right to boycott them. To them, before helping others, companies based in the U.S. should first help their own community, especially those fighting to defend our freedoms. Rather than do this, the company acted as if the unemployed veterans scattered across the country were less important.
When Starbucks stated that they would hire 10,000 immigrants, instead of more veterans, many in the military felt betrayed. As a consequence, consumer perception levels have dropped by two-thirds, causing Credit Suisse to issue a hold rating due to “significant volatility in recent weeks.” A drop this extreme and dramatic could potentially affect how much they earn.
The company claims it was never their intention to disrespect those who serve. Matt Kress, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq, currently manages the military affairs programs for Starbucks. He said that moving forward, he wants service members to know that they care about them. Kress understands that upon leaving the military, most soldiers experience a “frightening period” where they must face a “major unknown.” He says that the company is a great place for them to get re-acclimated into society. “Some of our veterans are only with us for a year, while others are here longer,” he noted, adding “this is their landing spot to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life.”
It appears as if the boycott has successfully impacted the company in a negative way, causing them to change their behavior. Despite their new-found focus on military issues, they’ve denied that the boycott was effective. Specifically, the company stated, “we did not observe any substantive impact on customer consideration, future visitation intent or brand Perceptions or any other key performance metrics for the Starbucks brand.” Although the company may still be doing well, their perception is lower than it was before announcing their refugee plan, suggesting that the political action taken by the right was worth it.
This is not the first company to deal with a conservative boycott. After Target announced that they will let people use whatever restroom they feel like, over a million people spoke out against the change and stopping shopping there. As a consequence, the company has experienced a decrease in sales every quarter since the post was published, bringing their revenue down a total of 6%. This drop is the first they’ve experienced in years.
They also had to install a third option for using the restroom in every store, giving customers the ability to use a private restroom without frightening other customers. This change cost them over $20 million to roll out nationwide.
Although Starbucks made a huge mistake prioritizing refugees over veterans, they’re trying to make up for it. They’ve doubled down on their efforts to hire more service members and have dedicated particular locations that they can operate. Other companies should learn from the coffee company and promise to help out our most loyal patriots. They’ve risked their lives for us. The very least we can do is give them a job so that they can support themselves.