I collaborated with Starbucks to share my story on bridging the civilian-military drift. Since 2013, Starbucks has hired more than 10,000 military spouses and veterans and is committed to hiring at least 15,000 more. On Aug. 21, Starbucks launched a national campaign encouraging the 99% of Americans who haven’t served to start a new conversation with veterans and military spouses. Learn more here »
Soon we will mark 16 years since those majestic towers fell and the America we know changed. The lives of each and every one of us was impacted in similar and different ways. For military families like mine, we have watched as people we love leave over and over and over to places that were once unfamiliar names on a map.
Military spouses, moms, dads, siblings, and children have had a close view of what combat really does to a person. It never leaves them and we are forced to figure out this new normal within our households. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that 16 years of continuous war has not only left a permanent imprint, but it has sometimes made us feel distant from our neighbors, friends, and even our extended family.
The military community is its own subculture, from the way we speak to our way of life. Like any other tight-knit group, we feel safe with each other. There is an unspoken bond that provides a deep sense of comfort in the ugliest of times; a closeness we wouldn’t be able to survive this lifestyle without. Still, the isolation we sometimes feel from the rest of our country is a very real thing and one that has perhaps led to hurt and definitely misunderstanding. In the last few years, efforts have been made to help bridge what has become an obvious drift between the military and civilian communities.
The feeling on and after September 11th was one of national camaraderie. Conversely, as the ongoing realities of these wars have faded from the headlines, it feels like people have forgotten. They have forgotten we have “skin in the game” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and so many other places far from our borders. It feels forgotten that there are families with permanently empty seats at their tables. We need to get to know each other again. We need to have those talks.
It is one of the reasons why Starbucks is leading an effort to get us acquainted. The company is starting conversations at locations around the country to help you– our neighbors–get to know our stories. Because of their hiring initiative, you will find employees within their stores donning the title of veteran or military spouse. Grab a cup of coffee and connect with them. After all, relationships are best built across the table with caffeine and scones.
Here are some questions to get the chat going: Let’s chat.