By: Debra Kabalkin on November 11th, 2015

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The Best HR Practices for Veterans We've Seen Employers Provide

Diversity & Inclusion | Community | Benefits | Best Practices | Talent Acquisition


Many companies do great things to honor veterans who have served our country. You've probably heard of employers closing the office to observe the holiday, some honor their veterans with a tribute luncheon, while others have a moment of silence to start the day or send thank you cards to the homes of those who have served our country. Many retailers also honor those who have served by providing discounts and freebies like complimentary entrees, hair cuts, oil changes and cups of coffee on Veteran's Day. But have you heard of this?

Starbucks is Giving More to Vets in Time for Veteran's Day

Just in time for Veteran’s Day, Starbucks Coffee announced that it will be expanding its College Achievement Plan program by extending its 100% tuition-free four-year college benefit to a spouse or a child of every U.S. veteran or active military reservist employed 20 or more hours a week.  According to a statement by CEO Howard Schultz, he said that, “the U.S. has an obligation to honor veterans and their families, not just by saying thanking them, but by putting our thanks into action and collectively helping those who are making the transition from military to civilian life.”

The College Achievement Plan which is currently open to all Starbucks part-time and full-time employees (including those working at Teavana, La Boulange, and Evolution Fresh) enables them to receive a free college education. This plan reimburses employees who earn a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s (ASU) online degree programs.  To date more than 4,000 employees have taken advantage of this plan since it was introduced in June, 2014. ASU covers 42% of that cost and Starbucks picks up the rest, (minus any other scholarships the employee receives).  Employee can study whatever degree program they choose and they are not required to stay with the company after earning their degree.

Starbucks has also announced other benefits associated with the employment of U.S. veterans, active military reservists and military spouses.  These are:

  1. To better address the needs of employees who are active duty or reservists in the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard, a new pay-for-service-benefit has been introduced to cover up to 80 hours of pay each year for service obligations.
  2. In 2013, Starbucks made a commitment to hire at least 10,000 vets and their spouses by 2018. Starbucks announced on November 9th, that it has already succeeded in hiring more than 50% of that commitment.  To achieve these results, Starbucks has invested in employing dedicated military recruiters. They have established multiple connections with military bases, installation transition and educational offices across the country and overseas.  The company also attended more than 200 military hiring fairs across the nation that recruit veterans and military spouses.  Lastly, they expanded the Starbucks Armed Forces Network, from one to 12 regional chapters (the Starbucks Armed Forces Network is intended to connect veterans and create mentorships across the company to ease the transition from military to civilian life).thank you for serving
  3. Starbucks continues to expand its Military Family Store concept in conjunction with veteran and military service organizations near U.S. military bases. Military Family Stores are run by veterans and military spouses and partners with various organizations like the USO others, to offer transition services and build connections between military and civilian communities. The company has already dedicated 16 Military Family Stores and has plans to commit to a total of 30 more across the country by the end of 2016.

What are Other Organizations Doing for Veterans?

There are several other ways your organization can do more to honor our veterans. For instance, here are some other best practices that made the Monster/ 2015 Best Companies for Veterans List and the Military Times Best for Vets: Employers 2015 rankings:

  • Honeywell - For employees called to service in the National Guard and Reserve, Honeywell provides full pay and benefits at 100% for up to 18 months.
  • Union Pacific Railroad - UP has a dedicated employee resource group (UPVETS) that compensates the difference between military and company pay for active National Guard or reservists called to duty.
  • USAA - Besides offering a resource program to aid employees with the transition to corporate work, USAA also offers skill-building programs like VetFIT and Combat-to-Claims, which develop workers’ talents in Java programming and claims adjusting.
  • Booz Allen - The company offers two employee resources groups—the Armed Services Forum and Military Spouses Forum—to help veterans and their families make the shift to civilian corporate life, with mentoring, career guidance, and professional development.
  • BAE Systems Inc - The company has specific plans to exceed 1,200 veteran hires in 2016, with an emphasis on females and diversity. To help recruit, BAE Systems has a dedicated recruitment team consisting of veterans and a program called Camo to Corporate.
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co. - In 2011, they started a multi-company veteran hiring initiative called the 100,000 Jobs Mission with a goal of hiring 100,000 vets by 2020.
  • Lockheed Martin - Lockheed has a Military Connect program, which is a social media community that connects transitioning service members with the company's vet employees — and not just recruiters.

According to Monster and’s recent Annual Veteran Talent Index, 90% of vets say that, when job seeking, it’s critical to consider companies that market themselves as veteran-friendly—with dedicated veteran hiring, onboarding, affinity groups, and training. Yet, many companies that we start to work with do not have such an initiative in place.

What is your organization doing?  Do you have any unique ways that you recognize or honor veterans that work for your company, especially on Veteran's Day?  If so, send them in so we can share them with our HR community!