Operation Coffee Addresses Veterans Suicide
One Cup at a Time: Operation Coffee Brings Awareness to Veteran Suicide
Surely the British-loved phrase alluding to a good cup of tea fixing most problems can be applied in the U.S., too. All that’s needed is a cup of coffee, same effect achieved as our friends across the pond.
This concept is what prompted Marine veteran Sam Floyd to open the doors on his first solo business venture: a small-batch coffee company, Operation Coffee.
In the United States, veteran suicide is an alarming epidemic. In 2016, veterans totaled 14 percent of the amount of adult suicides — an even more striking figure when juxtaposed with the fact that veterans only made up 6 percent of the entire population of the country.
Back at home in Wisconsin after serving as a Marine in Afghanistan, Sam Floyd knows the stories behind these statistics. He, along with nearly every veteran alive, has received the news that a fellow veteran has taken his own life multiple times.
And for Sam, enough was enough.
He wanted to help. He felt powerless. He’d moved to Wisconsin to care for his ill mother, not entirely sure of what his future held. He himself suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, but he tried to shake it off and pretend all was well.
Eventually, Floyd went to the VA for help, and he’s glad he did. “I was just not really understanding what I was going through in my head,” Floyd said in an interview. “Countless number of friends, and you hear about friend’s friends that committed suicide. I was basically sick and tired of it.”
Floyd, who’d gotten a job as a barista at the first and only coffee shop in the small town of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, purchased an old church building and out of it now runs Operation Coffee. This small-batch coffee roasting company is a labor of love for Floyd, who handles all of the daily operations himself as the sole employee. His mission? To help bring awareness to and prevent veteran suicide, one bag of coffee beans at a time.
10 percent of Floyd’s sales are given to the benefit of preventing veteran suicides. In his work with Blue Door Coffee, Floyd also provides coffee beans for its drinks. The Blue Door, which is owned by Joel Fleischmann, gives 100 percent of its proceeds to local charities, making the collaboration a match made in heaven.
The idea behind Operation Coffee is multifaceted. First, there are the physical proceeds from sales being utilized to help lower the number of veteran suicides each year. Second comes the awareness. On the back of each bag of coffee Floyd packs and ships himself, the story of a veteran is shared. These stories of the brave are intended to bring awareness to the sacrifices made — often at terrible personal cost — by veterans.
And lastly, that concept of nearly all problems being helped by a good cup of coffee (or tea, if you’re British).
“The reason I chose coffee is because there can be that common ground, just that one common thing, and that can be a cup of coffee,” Floyd explained.
Indeed, Operation Coffee is not only about the physical product. It encompasses the feelings of empathy and of compassion. In a veteran’s darkest days, a simple gesture can make a potentially life-saving difference. It’s Sam Floyd’s hope that somewhere, over a cup of Operation Coffee, one more life is being saved.