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Starbucks makes huge move to show support for military, but will it sway lingering backlash?

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Starbucks continued in its steady effort to show its support for military families, pushing back against criticism that the coffee giant did not honor veterans.

The Seattle-based coffee company unveiled several new specially designated coffee stores to add to its growing roster of “Military Family Stores,” Fox News reported.

Starbucks now boasts 37 of these stores, staffed mostly with veterans and military spouses in its effort to to employ service members and their families nationwide.

“Seventy-five percent of my business is the military,” Shannon Feltz, the manager at  the Clarksville, Tenn. location, told Fox News. “We are so excited about this announcement,”

Feltz, a 14-year military spouse whose husband is a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, gave Starbucks high marks for its efforts.

“I’ve never felt so supported by a company in my life,” the 47 year-old said.

The Clarksville store, two miles from the U.S. military base, joined four other new Military Family Stores unveiled by Starbucks on Tuesday. Two Texas locations will serve Camp Mabry in Austin and Ft. Bliss in El Paso while a Newport, Rhode Island store near Naval War College and a Bedford, Mass.. location a few miles from Joint Base Hanscom also were announced Tuesday.

Starbucks has repeatedly come under fire by conservatives who have denounced the company’s obvious left-wing bias and its not-so subtle jabs at President Donald Trump.

In January, CEO Howard Schultz announced Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees in response to the  president’s executive order banning immigrant travel into the U.S. The company would  “neither stand by, nor stand silent.” Schultz, who backed Hillary Clinton in the election, said.

The company’s brand image took a hit after that announcement but it doubled down on its 2013 initiative that had promised to hire 10,000 veteran and military spouses. Starbucks vowed to hire 25,000 veteran and military spouses by 2025, an initiative one veteran commended for supporting an often overlooked community.

“Some of our veterans are only with us for a year, while others are here longer,” Matt Kress, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq told Fox. “This is their landing spot to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their life.”

Kress, who manages the veterans and military affairs program for Starbucks, explained that the transition from active combat to civilian life is a “frightening period” for those serving in the military.

Starbucks senior vice president, John Kelly, praised veterans and military spouses as “the best example of engaged citizens.”

“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,” Kelly said.

“We are honored to serve as a place where these American heroes can continue to impact their community in a positive way,” he added.

Despite the veteran initiative being in place for some time, Twitter users applauded the apparent “turnaround” by Starbucks as they reacted to the latest announcement.

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Frieda Powers

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