Starbucks wants the country's defenders to return from the front lines on its payroll, pledging to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years.
In an initiative organized in part by Starbucks board member and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Seattle coffee giant said it hopes to tap the unique communication, leadership and problem-solving skills developed by veterans and their families.
"This is not a charity initiative," said Starbucks Chief Community Officer Blair Taylor in an interview this week. "This is an endeavor predicated on us genuinely needing the skills veterans offer."
The hiring effort, which would affect Starbucks' U.S. stores, is also a reaction to the "exorbitantly high unemployment rate that military families and veterans face," Taylor said.
The company will set up recruiting processes "specifically targeted at veterans," he said. The chain is "just starting to track military hires," he said.
Several other major U.S. businesses have recently made a push to pull employees from the nation's defense forces. Wal-Mart has said it will hire 100,000 veterans by 2018.
Starbucks also added that it will open five so-called community stores at U.S. military bases over the next five years.
The locations, two of which launched Wednesday in Lakewood, Wash. and San Antonio, Tex., will share profits with local nonprofit organizations helping to reintegrate veterans into the workforce
Starbucks already had five units running at a variety of sites and hopes to eventually operate 50 such stores across the world, Taylor said.
And in an attempt to "double down" on veterans, former and current military personnel and their spouses will get a free tall brewed coffee from Starbucks on Veterans Day, the company said.
Other chains are offering similar deals.
At Olive Garden, service members will get a free entrée from a special menu, while family will get 10% knocked off their tab. And for the first time ever, the chain is offering a 10% discount for military and their kin throughout November for Military Family Appreciation Month.
Red Lobster will give out free appetizers for veterans and those on active duty from Monday through Nov. 14, while Long Horn Steakhouse is promising a free Texas Tonion appetizer and a non-alcoholic drink during the same period.
Veterans and active military can order a no-cost pizza when dining in at California Pizza Kitchen.