When Shirley Jamerson decided she wanted to reenlist in the military, she ran into some challenges.
Jamerson began her career at Starbucks in 2007 as a shift supervisor at an Arizona store, where she decided she wanted to become a combat medic in the U.S. Army. Starbucks put her on a leave of absence when she had to complete her four-month-long training in Texas, ensuring her job would be safe when she returned.
She would leave Starbucks a year later when she moved to Washington state, and received pushback from her new employer when she decided to reenlist.
“Unfortunately, the company I was working for at the time, when I reenlisted, they basically turned their back on me,” Jamerson said.
When Jamerson went to look for different work, she knew there was an obvious choice.
“I just kept coming back to Starbucks because they were such an amazing company,” she said. “So I just started applying for every position possible. I was a manager at the time, but I will go back to being a barista if that’s what it takes.”
Jamerson is now a store manager at the Lakewood Military Family Store in Seattle.
“I cannot leave [the military]. I’ve tried, but it’s not in me,” Jamerson said. “I want to be in the military and fortunately with Starbucks I can do that and I know that they support me 100%.”
Starbucks (SBUX) had committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2025, and has met that goal six years early. The Seattle-based coffee giant has recommitted to veteran hiring with a goal of bringing on 5,000 hires annually. Additionally, Starbucks has opened 62 Military Family stores, which are all located near military bases and support active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their spouses.
“They're meant as a place of community for active duty families,” Matt Kress, senior manager of Veteran and Military Affairs at Starbucks, and a veteran, told Yahoo Finance. “And then when military families are getting ready to leave the military, we work with veteran service organizations to provide the services that they need to have successful transitions.”
Starbucks’ military stores help military spouses as well.
“The spouses, they get moved around all the time and they’re the ones who have to worry about finding work in their new state or new city,” Jamerson said. “To know that there’s Starbucks everywhere, and that their job is safe and they can transfer is a huge relief for them.”
Starbucks works with non-profits to provide assistance beyond placing veterans and their spouses in jobs, but provide assistance when veterans transition to civilian life. It provides veterans with mental health resources and community-centered activities.
“We know that veterans, as they transition away from active service, are struggling with isolation,” Bana Miller, a representative from the non-profit Team Red, White & Blue, told Yahoo Finance. “They're struggling with mental health. And our organization specifically has found that the connection between physical health and mental health is very strong. And so we attempt to connect those veterans and military members to members of their community through physical activity.”
For the veterans, reservists and military spouses at these stores, these opportunities mean peace of mind for them and their families.
“I have four kids and a wife, so my life is chaos and stress,” Jamerson said. “Having one less thing that I have to stress about and worry about and know that my family is OK, and that my job is still there when I come back, that is just amazing and a gift that I don’t think Starbucks understands how amazing that gift is.”
Ashley is a Production Assistant for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @actuallynelson.