February 9, 2015 Community

Starbucks and Goodwill Help JBLM Veterans Transition to Civilian Jobs

When military friends ask Isaac Burke about his new Starbucks job, he’s quick to smile and point out he “hasn’t had to do any push-ups yet.” Then he adds, “Starbucks is giving me the responsibility and the challenge I was looking for. I recommend it.”

Former Army Captain Burke, a finance officer who ran banking operations for about 2,000 soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan, didn’t know what his career would be once he left the armed forces. As his military service came to an end several months ago, he was certain of one thing.

“I didn’t want to be stuck in a cubicle for the rest of my life,” said Burke. 

He also didn’t think he’d want to work for Starbucks, even though Burke is a fan of the company’s coffee. His outlook changed when he met a recruiter for Starbucks military and veteran outreach program at a Goodwill job fair at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. The Starbucks recruiter, who is also an Air Force Reservist, explained how the abilities inherent to military service are also traits Starbucks looks for when hiring partners (employees).

“Now I’m learning the business from the ground up – learning how to maintain inventory, manage a team, interact with customers, and a million other things,” said Burke, who started training in January to become a Starbucks assistant store manager. 

Burke is one of 220 veterans and family members who have secured a job with the help of Goodwill’s “Operation: GoodJobs.” The program aims to help post-9/11 veterans, their spouses and dependents transition from military life to a successful civilian life. 

“We continue to work with our veterans until they too find work. We are in it for the long haul,” said Terry Hayes, CEO of Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region. "With our support, service members and veterans learn to translate their military experience into civilian jobs.” 

The Army is looking to reduce the number of troops by 2020, and JBLM is one of the bases around the country that could be impacted with the potential reduction of 11,000 active duty and civilian contractors. 

“With all of the people transitioning out of the military and looking for new career opportunities, we feel a sense of urgency to support them,” said John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice president of Global Responsibility and Public Policy. 

Starbucks has been working with Goodwill for more than a year to provide training, counseling and resources for 1,250 veterans and family members in the Tacoma area. They have also helped 220 veterans and family members secure jobs with companies including Boeing, Fred Meyer, Wells Fargo as well as Starbucks. In addition, 95 former service members have earned credentials to support careers in nursing and computing.

Starbucks and Goodwill celebrated their partnership today by dedicating a new space in the Starbucks Military Community Store located in Lakewood, WA near JBLM. The expanded store area will be used to host free career seminars on the last Friday of each month for active-duty service members, veterans and military spouses. The Lakewood Community store provides 10 cents of each transaction to non-profit organizations that support returning veterans and their families. 


Starbucks is committed to hiring at least 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018. This special Starbucks News website details how the company is creating new career pathways for thousands of new partners with a connection to military service.

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom