Starbucks is the latest large company to announce a major initiative to hire veterans returning to the civilian work force.
The coffee company said it plans to hire at least 10,000 military veterans and active-duty military spouses over the next five years as part of a global expansion that calls for 500,000 employees companywide, up from 200,000 today, reports The Seattle Times
"This is, in my view, not charity or philanthropy. But in fact, this is good business," CEO Howard Schultz told the Times in an interview Monday. "These are highly skilled, highly trained people who have significant leadership capabilities, who will add value to Starbucks."
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was appointed to Starbucks’ board of directors last year, told CNN
, "We know that many men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a difficult time finding career-fulfilling kinds of positions. Over the next five years another million men and women will come out of the military and enter civilian life."
Businesses, said Gates, "have stepped up over the last year or so, from Wall Street to Main Street, in committing to hire a significant number of veterans."
Other companies that have launched their own aggressive plans to hire vets include UPS, JPMorgan, and Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, which expects to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018.
Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher rate of unemployment than the general population. The unemployment rate for the general population in September was 7.2 percent, according to the latest government figures, compared to 10.1 percent for vets who have served since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Starbucks also plans to open five stores on or near military bases that will share their profits with the local communities, according to Schultz.
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