By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 03, 2017
Credit: © Robert Alexander / Getty Images

Starbucks – at least under outgoing CEO Howard Schultz – has never shied away from taking a political stance, especially when it comes to liberal causes. (Among many obvious examples, Schultz famously endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.) So it was of little surprise when, in response to President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees, that the coffee giant showed its distaste for the decision by promising to hire 10,000 refugees globally over the next five years. What has been a surprise to many Trump supporters, however, is that as much as they may dislike Starbucks’ refugee-hiring decision, their counterargument, “Why not hire 10,000 veterans instead?” has not gained

Clearly, Starbucks’ refugee announcement was intended to have a political impact, and I can only assume that the coffee brand’s top brass weren’t surprised when some on social media started promoting the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks. At this point, they’re probably used to seeing it every time they reveal a new coffee cup. However, one criticism hit especially close to home: The idea that instead of hiring refugees, Starbucks should focus on a supposedly even more deserving group: American veterans. To set the record straight, yesterday, Starbucks released a letter from the Starbucks Armed Forces Network. Among many points, the group provides the reminder, “In November 2013, Howard and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates announced Starbucks commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.” The SAFN later continues, “Less than four years into the commitment, Starbucks has hired over 8,800 veterans and spouses and counting.”

At its root however, this debate is not about hiring one group over another, it’s about the executive order’s impact on refugees. And how someone feels about that will likely be a major factor in their attitude towards Starbucks. The members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network say they understand that; they just want people to get their facts straight. “We respect honest debate and the freedom of expression,” the message reads. “Many of us served to protect that very right. Some of our brothers and sisters died protecting it. But to those who would suggest Starbucks is not committed to hiring veterans, we are here to say: check your facts, Starbucks is already there.”