November 5, 2014 Opportunity

Starbucks Honors its Veterans and Military Spouses

More than 600 silver medallions shimmer on a white wall.

Individual names are etched on each quarter-sized medal – Julie Frey, Sergio Piceno, Dale Harper – with hundreds more on display and thousands still to come.

The names, belonging to Starbucks partners (employees) who are veterans or military spouses, are part of a designated space in the company’s Seattle headquarters. The recently-dedicated Honor Wall highlights Starbucks gratitude for their service. The shiny medallions are similar to “challenge coins” used in military culture to recognize special achievements.

 “When I look at this wall, I think about the journey we’ve been on and the people we’ve met who have served and sacrificed so much,” said Cliff Burrows, group president, U.S, Americas, and Teavana. “Veterans and military spouses are reliable, with great skills in communication and logistics to support our 21,000 stores in 65 countries. We’re proud to have them at Starbucks.”

1,048 partners have joined Starbucks as a result of the multi-year hiring and career development strategy the company announced last year. Starbucks is on a path to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018, though veterans have been a part of the company for decades.

Mick James is a former officer with the Marine Corps. He started his career with Starbucks 21 years ago as a barista, with the intention of managing his own store and ultimately a dozen stores as a district manager.

“I was intrigued by the business and the opportunity to lead a small team in a dynamic environment serving the world’s greatest coffee,” said James.

His career momentum continued through several positions within Starbucks and earlier this year he became a manager in Starbucks veterans and military affairs department. James is co-founder and former president of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN), a partner affinity group of about 345 members that provides support for co-workers who are active duty military, veterans or military spouses.

The AFN helps veterans transition to civilian employment within Starbucks and influences business initiatives.

“Part of that support includes informational interviews, resume reviews pairing up new veteran partners with mentors, and advising the company on retaining talent,” said Andrea Azcárate, distribution operations manager of green coffee. She’s served nine years in the Army and is currently the AFN president.

AFN members provided guidance on the design of the Starbucks Honor Wall. Mick James compiled a meticulously-detailed, 11 point brief to the Global Creative Studio within Starbucks headquarters. It landed on senior designer Carole Guizzetti’s desk. As she read the document, one word resonated with her – gratitude.

“On a personal note, I have two dear friends who are military spouses and I’m in awe of everything they do each day through long deployments and countless cross country moves,” said Guizzetti. “My goal really was to create an instillation they would be proud of. And I’m proud to work for a company that not only recognizes the courage and sacrifice of our veterans, but of their spouses as well.”

Another striking feature of the Starbucks Honor wall is a huge picture of the American flag that flies atop the Starbucks building and these words:

There are heroes among us. Dedicated with pride to our partners who are veterans or active duty military spouses. Your service, leadership and sacrifice inspire us each day – reminding us all of our own humanity. Thank you.

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom