When Starbucks partner David Van Slambrook was asked to share his story before the inaugural meeting of the U.S. Senate’s Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, he shared his own experience as a U.S. Army Colonel prior to his transition to civilian life.
Approaching retirement after a distinguished 28-year career in the U.S. Army, he was unsure what to do next.
“As a retiring colonel, I knew I was qualified to do a number of things, but finding the right career, job and fit was challenging,” he told the members.
Van Slambrook learned about Starbucks veteran recruitment program at a job fair on his military base, and Starbucks recruiting manager Tom Tice helped identify his potential fit for a partner (human) resources position. He joined Starbucks in October 2014 as a partner resources manager, and became one of the more than 4,600 veterans and military spouses hired by Starbucks since it announced its commitment to hiring 10,000 by 2018.
“Though I had extensive experience in the human resources field, we do not use those terms in the military,” he said. “Tom recognized and pointed those facts out to me in such a way that it became instantly clear this position was a great fit for my skill set.”
Van Slambrook’s experience will help shape the work of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, which includes U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The caucus will work to address the challenges that the latest generation of veterans face when entering the job market, including employment, education, transition support and healthcare needs.
“The best way to care for a veteran is to help them get a job. Industry leaders Starbucks and Uber are setting an example I hope others will follow,” Senator Kirk said.
Van Slambrook urged companies to not only set recruiting targets for hiring veterans, but also to invest in human resource personnel who understand veterans and can help them translate their unique skills, find a meaningful career path, and provide successful onboarding, training and development experience to retain this talent.
“The best way to bridge a divide is to take the first step across it,” said Van Slambrook. “Our company has been doing that with the military hiring initiative.”
Van Slambrook said that it was an honor to share his personal experience and share his thoughts on how to help veterans transition successfully to civilian life.
“For 28 years, I was privileged to wear Army green and serve our nation amongst an incredible population of men and women committed to serve,” he said. “Now, I am proud to be among the more than 4,600 veterans and military spouses hired who wear Starbucks green.”
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