Starbucks, which employs some 200,000 people worldwide, announced a committment Wednesday to hire 10,000 military veterans and active-duty spouses in a spree that will stretch out over the next five years. In addition, Starbucks will be opening five cafes on or near military bases, the ownership of which will be shared with non-governmental organizations committed to helping veterans re-enter the workforce.
The hiring surge is part of CEO Howard Schultz's plan to expand the Starbucks workforce to 500,000 over the next five years, as was reported by the Seattle Times. In speaking to Reuters, Schultz emphasized the veteran plan "is not only about hiring baristas." Veterans will also be recruited to manage global supply chains, among other tasks, he said. In another sign of engaging with America's armed forces, Starbucks has appointed Bob Gates, the secretary of defense for both Presidents Obama and Bush to the company's board.
In speaking to the Seattle Times, Schultz said the plan was both smart business and based on good-will. "This is absolutely the right thing to do for so many people who have a hard time landing softly and finding their way back to civilian life," he said. "These are highly skilled, highly trained people who have significant leadership capabilities, who will add value to Starbucks."
Questions over whether the plan was motivated by a public relations ploy must fade to the background in the face of the unemployment woes that have plagued veterans of the post-9/11 wars since they've come home. As of September, their unemployment rate stood at 10.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure for the general population stood at 7.2 percent.
A new commitment
But as AOL Jobs has reported, the private sector has taken to helping veterans finding employment in almost unprecedented fashion in American history. In addition to the Starbucks initiative, giants like Walmart and JPMorgan Chase have committed to finding work for 100,000 veterans.
The JPMorgan plan includes 123 companies, and has already led to the hires of 92,869 veterans, as was reported by Marketwatch. As AOL Jobs reported, the Walmart plan is only open to veterans who were honorably discharged on or after the plan's announcement on Jan. 15.
The attention being paid to America's soldiers by the private sector is catching the eye of commentators. As Libby O'Connell, the chief historian at The History Channel, previously told AOL Jobs, "Once in a while, people in history get a chance to right a wrong from history... [and] after Vietnam, veterans were disrespected because of the opposition to the war." Now, however, she said, "You are seeing a new attitude of 'what can we do?'"