Coffee is part of the American way of life, but at Freedom Hill Coffee Roasters in Antrim County, Beller, it’s about more than just making your morning cup of Java.
“We roast coffee, we roast it fresh every day, but we also give the opportunity to sacrifice. Every time you wake up and your coffee habit is Freedom Hill Coffee, you know you are helping veterans to work, ”says Scott Thomas, veteran and owner of Freedom Hill Coffee Roasters.
Founded in February 2020, Freedom Hill Coffee not only roasts and packages coffee, but also delivers it nationwide to all 50 states and around the world via e-commerce. Scott Thomas is a veteran who worked in Iraq in 2005 and wanted a mission driven business.
“Most of our mission is a couple of charities because we are in commercial business, but some of the proceeds go to Mission 22. They are based on the west coast, but they work in army bases and outposts all over the country. when soldiers leave the service, to link them to resources to find work and to deal with any injury, mental problem or handicap. We are also working with Comfort Farms in Georgia, founded by a disabled army ranger, ”says Thomas.
For Scott and his wife, Jill, the business has become a means of raising awareness for veterans with PTSD and ending any stigma associated with mental illness. This is a personal story that began several years before the idea of Freedom Hill Coffee Roasters was born.
“Our story really goes back to the past. We got married at a young age, when he was about 20 years old, ”says co-owner Jill Thomas.
“2001 was my first year in Western Michigan. I was an ROTC cadet and a lot of guys entered the service ahead of their careers, and I joined the Michigan National Guard in 2004, and shortly thereafter was sent to active duty and made one trip to Iraq. I was injured, so I stayed a little ahead of my unit, ”says Scott.
“I knew I was looking forward to his return here and was ready to support him on any next path,” says Jill.
This is a different path for all veterans returning to a new lifestyle. Both Scott and Jill lived in Chicago after Scott returned from Iraq, adjusting to his new lifestyle.
“I think this is a fairly common experience that many veterans share, which can lead to isolation, and if you have gone through some kind of trauma, fought, lost friends, and you have no people to share it with, but things that happen in military service are often unfamiliar to those closest to you. So a lot of guys and girls have to deal with it alone, which is difficult, ”says Scott.
A situation Scott knew all too well. One of Scott’s best friends, Brian struggled with life after service.
“Brian is one of my best friends as a kid. He fought a lot in Afghanistan. This was before mental health was as important as it is now, or as easy to talk about as it is now. I think we have learned a lot as a country and with VA in the last 20 years and it is easier for us to talk about things and that is good, which encourages veterans to seek help. When Brian visited me, he and I went to consult several times because I tried to connect him with resources that could help him, ”says Scott.
In the early February morning of 2013, Scott received a call and was told that Brian had committed suicide the night before. It was the reality that forever changed Scott’s life and lit a fire in him.
“I want veterans to know, and people who live in veteran lives to know, that there are excellent resources when you are dealing with depression or dealing with trauma. They might not be solved overnight, but these are all things that can be helped with the sheer amount of resources available, ”says Scott.
Freedom Hill Coffee Roasters has become one of those resources honoring Brian and all the veterans of every era. Part of every coffee sale and subscription goes to getting the veterans to work here in northern Michigan and beyond … connecting with those currently serving.
“We get answers from them. We take pictures of them overseas holding their coffee with letters saying that it really brightened their day, ”says Jill.
For Scott, Freedom Coffee has allowed him to discover a passion for helping fellow veterans and even those currently serving in the military.
“Using the military law, he finally came back and got his degree in business, which I am so proud of him, and he had to do it as a father, husband and three children and made him want to get up and work. harder and do more, I could appreciate it. I watched him go his way in search of what he needed, and he grew up in many ways. So it’s amazing to watch his wife and partner, and I’m so proud of him that he achieved that, and that’s what we want for all the military and everyone who has given so much and donated so much. We want to show them that they can go home, find a purpose and find peace, ”says Jill.
For more information on Freedom Hill coffee roasters and to place an online order for delivery, see Click here.