An Army veteran could easily hit targets from thousands of yards away, but he was struggling with espresso and foam. 

Jeff Danley, Starbucks' regional director for Maryland, recalled how a soldier-turned barista at a store he managed took dozens of tries before finally mastering, of all things, a cappuccino.

Danley remembered how the soldier never gave up. It's one of the many characteristics Danley noticed that veterans bring to the job.

“It was impactful to see a humbling quality, to recognize that learning is always occurring and that it would have been easy to simply give up, say it's beneath him and walk out,” Danley said. “Rather, he kept practicing and later became a supervisor and trainer.”

Danley, who has served in leadership roles throughout his 17-year career at Starbucks and is the former chair of the company's Armed Forces Network in the mid-Atlantic region, was the guest speaker at MOAA's Military and Veteran Networking Forum on Sept. 20 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The forum provided veterans and their families an opportunity to engage with 85 industry professionals, hiring managers, executives, and resource specialists. 

Face-to-face interaction is invaluable, said Danley, who has attended several networking events geared toward veterans and military spouses. Many veterans who are employed through Starbucks were first introduced to the company during such job fairs, he said.

“It's humbling to reflect on the number of veterans that we've employed and seen successful in our organization,” Danley said.

Here's more from Danley on Starbucks' efforts to hire veterans, and on job-hunting tactics. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. Starbucks launched a campaign to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018. Tell me about the progress.

A. We met and exceeded [the goal] well ahead of schedule. It didn't surprise me in the slightest. I thought all along we would have surpassed that number. Currently, we have hired 15,000 and have recommitted to growing this to 25,000 by 2025.

Q. When people think of Starbucks, it's obvious to imagine a barista. What are some other job opportunities? 

A. In nearly all cases, we can find a correlation between a transitioning servicemember's experience and skill sets with that of an opportunity in a number of places. 

Just like in the military, there are a number of cross-functional teams, departments, and support functions that enable our store teams to execute at their best. Examples of roles include positions in regional offices, in roasting plants, and at our corporate headquarters in Seattle.

Q. What characteristics make veterans and military spouses appealing candidates to Starbucks?

A. Leadership, teamwork, and initiative. The ability to analyze situations, make appropriate decisions, and accept responsibility for outcomes. Discipline, integrity and striving to exceed goals. [And] a willingness to continuously improve and develop.

Q. Did veterans ever give you advice that made you think about something differently?

A. Advice I've received from vets really was more about questioning the status quo. Challenging in a respectful way when there was a better way, more efficient, or smarter. With a great deal of respect, I appreciated and valued vets who would strive to find ways for the business and the organization to continuously improve. 

Amanda Dolasinski is MOAA's staff writer. She can be reached at amandad@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMOAA.