With more than 20,000 coffee houses worldwide, and nearly 200,000 employees -- with aggressive plans to grow to a global workforce of 500,000 -- Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced today it intends to hire 10,000 U.S. military veterans and spouses of military personnel on active duty in the next five years.

Starbucks said it plans to hire veterans and military spouses by developing a "comprehensive hiring platform." Additionally, Starbucks will open five new stores in base communities throughout the U.S. by utilizing a portion of the proceeds from two existing stores -- one in Washington State and one in San Antonio, Texas.

The hiring initiative, which will build on Starbucks' longstanding relationship with the Armed Forces Network (AFN), will include a career development strategy and internal changes designed to match vets and active duty spouses with appropriate job opportunities, Starbucks said.

Speaking to the potential value veterans and their families bring to the workplace, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Starbucks board member, commented in the Starbucks press release that "Veterans and military spouses represent one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country and, without the proper career path, will continue to go untapped."

Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz added in the release, "The more than one million transitioning U.S. veterans and almost one and half million military spouses -- with their diverse background and experience -- share our mission-driven sensibility and work ethic and can build long-term careers at Starbucks as they return home."

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