6 Amazing Ways that Starbucks Supports the Military

Starbucks support for the military

The armed forces draw high regard and great trust for their personal sacrifices to safeguard our security, economy, and freedom. Inevitably, some military service members pay the ultimate price in their line of duty.

In a 2021 poll, at least 56 percent of Americans held the United States military in high esteem and trust. In comparison, other public institutions such as Congress and public education received a paltry 10 percent and 21 percent trust level respectively.

Private citizens and private institutions usually put their best foot forward in supporting the military and veterans where they can.

Starbucks, however, has faced scrutiny about its level of support for the military.

So, does Starbucks support the military?

Yes, Starbucks supports the military by hiring veterans and spouses of active duty service members, establishing military family stores, contributing funds to programs that support veterans’ mental health, donating coffee in care packages to troops across the world, and offering free coffee on Veterans Day.

6 Starbucks Initiatives in Support of the Military

#1. Hiring Veterans and Spouses of Active Military Members

By early 2021, Starbucks had employed well over 30,000 veterans and spouses of active military personnel in line with its 2013 pledge. [Source]

In 2013, Starbucks committed to expanding its military community workforce by hiring thousands of veterans to help them transition from the military to civilian jobs.

The corporation also pledged to hire the spouses of active-duty military members. The plan was to hire a total of 10,000 people from the military community by 2018.

The coffee giant engaged resolute military recruiters, sponsored numerous hiring summits, and participated in hundreds of military hiring fairs.

In 2017, the Starbucks armed forces network released a media statement lauding the company for creating jobs for retiring military members and active duty military spouses.

The network highlighted that the company had hired a record 8,800 spouses and veterans in four years and was on course to surpass the targeted 10,000 by the end of the fifth year.

Starbucks announced in 2019 that it had more than doubled its 2013 target by successfully employing over 26,000 spouses and veterans. It also committed to employing 5,000 military veterans and spouses every year.

#2. Starbucks Runs Military Community Stores to Support Veterans and Military Families

By 2019, Starbucks had established over 60 military-themed stores across the United States. It continues to open new stores with the aim of running hundreds of military family stores in the near future.

The stores are in close proximity to major active-military bases to provide a Third Place to military families who usually live far from friends and family members. They collaborate with veterans’ service organizations to provide meaningful connections to veterans and their families.

They also help the veterans to access resources and services.

Some of these military-themed stores use military artwork to instill a connection between the store and the military members and veterans. Starbucks employees at the stores occasionally participate in activities on the military installations as part of the community.

In-store activities include hosting events for the veterans, military members, and the community.

Most of the veterans and active spouses working in Starbucks’ military family stores proudly sport an embroidered flag of the United States on their aprons. Some of them also have an embroidered “Veteran” or “Spouse” title against their name.

Starbucks also runs military Mondays in selected military stores to provide pro bono legal aid to military veterans and spouses. The company supports initiatives that cater to the well-being of military communities and the integration of veterans into civilian life and job opportunities.

#3. Starbucks Support for Veterans’ Mental Health

Starbucks has been in the frontline financially supporting organizations that cater to the mental health of military communities. During the military appreciation month of May 2021, the coffee giant committed to donating $5 for every military e-gift card activated in that month.

Equal shares of the funds went to Blue Star Families and Operation Gratitude.

In 2019, Starbucks announced that the company was going to donate $0.25 per cup of brewed coffee sold in America on Veterans Day to two not-for-profit institutions that focused on veterans’ mental health.

The donation was split equally between Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB).

Starbucks has also donated millions of dollars to other non-profit organizations such as We are The 22 to prevent suicide among veterans.

#4. Starbucks Sends Coffee in Care Packages to Troops Overseas

The company donates coffee to military personnel deployed overseas through the United Service Organization Inc (USO) and the Red Cross. The company has sent over a million instant refresher packs to the troops and hundreds of thousands of its 3-pack instant coffee through the USO care packages.

#5. Starbucks Veterans Day Free Hot Coffee

Starbucks has a tradition of offering a Veterans Day deal of a free 12oz (Tall) cup of hot brewed coffee to veterans, active military personnel, and spouses on Veterans Day.

To get the November 11th Starbucks military discount, you need to provide proof of military service such as a valid military ID, VA cards, or discharge papers at participating U.S Starbucks stores in the United States. Spouses also need to show some form of proof.

#6. Adopt a Unit Program

Adopt a unit is a Starbucks program that encourages its stores to support military units deployed overseas by donating coffee and other items. Some stores encourage their customers to chip in.

Through the program, soldiers overseas get to enjoy cups of coffee and feel the taste of home.

Why Starbucks was Accused of not Supporting the Military

Given the five ways that Starbucks supports the military, why was the company accused of not backing the military?

Well, three separate events have fueled this notion.

#1. Allegations that Starbucks Refused to Send Coffee to Troops

The first event was a 2004 viral e-mail from a Sergeant marine urging people to boycott Starbucks because the company had snubbed a request by American soldiers deployed in Iraq to send them free coffee.

The e-mail alleged that Starbucks had curtly responded the coffee chain neither supported the war nor anyone in it.

Starbucks reached out to the Sergeant who later sent out a second email apologizing for the previous misinformation. He also confirmed that he was wrong and had been misled.

The allegations against Starbucks not backing the military were independently fact-checked and proven to be false. However, the email continues to make rounds on the interwebs and still attracts controversy.

#2. Starbucks’ Plan to Employ 10,000 Refugees

The second event was Starbucks’ 2017 plan to employ 10,000 refugees over a five-year period in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the US for four months.

There was uproar and views that the company should hire veterans instead of refugees.

Following social media backlash, the coffee chain reiterated its earlier goal to fast-track hiring at least 10,000 active military spouses and veterans by 2018 and beyond.

#3. Howard Schultz’s Gaffe About Time Spent with the Military

Former Starbucks Chairman, Harold Schultz, in a 2019 radio interview stated that he had possibly spent more time with the US military over the previous ten years than any other competitor for president.

Schultz who at the time was running as an independent candidate for the 2020 elections was alluding to his visits to military bases.

He later admitted he was wrong and apologized to candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg, both veterans who had been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively.

Below is Schultz’s apology on Twitter.

Howard Schultz apology

Wrap up

There are numerous Starbucks veterans and military community initiatives that aim to improve the welfare of veterans and military families.

Starbucks not only employs veterans and spouses of active military members but also donates funds to programs that help veterans to find jobs and as well as safeguard their mental health.

The coffee chain also sends coffee and refreshers to overseas troops.

FAQs About Starbucks Military Support

Does Starbucks Do Military Discounts?

Since March 2018, Starbucks overseas gives a 10 percent discount military discount to military service community members and veterans across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The discount also extends to emergency service workers such as nurses, police, and firefighters.

To benefit from this discount, you need to sign up for a five-year membership with either the Defence Discount Service or Blue Light Card. You also need to show the defense discount card or Blue Light Card at a Starbucks store in the UK or Ireland to claim the discount on your bill.

When is Military Appreciation Month?

In 1999, Congress designated May every year as the military appreciation month in honor of past and present troops and their families. Individual military holidays are spread throughout May to celebrate specific military achievements.

These are Loyalty Day on May 1, VE Day on May 8, and Mother’s Day which is held on the second Sunday of May every year. Military Spouse Appreciation Day occurs on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day. Memorial Day is on the last Monday of May every year.

When is Veterans’ Month?

In recent years, the White House has extended Veterans Day to a month-long national commemoration of veterans and military families in November every year.

Veterans Day takes place every year on November 11. Veterans Day is in honor of the men and women who have served in the United States military and is different from Memorial Day which honors those who have died while serving in the U.S military.

veterans month

when is military appreciation month


Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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