JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Veterans of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan have a higher rate of unemployment than the general population.
The unemployment rate for the general population was 7.2 percent in September, according to the most recent government figures available, compared to 10.1 percent for veterans who have served since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Some companies are stepping up to make hiring veterans and their family members a priority. Starbucks is the latest company to announce an aggressive push to hire veterans returning to the civilian work force.
The coffee chain says it will hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.
Veterans like Jim Durnal says it means a lot that companies are making it a priority to give veterans a job.
"You got people that are dedicated and that they want to come back and get into the community," he said.
Starbucks' announcement comes at a time when the unemployment rate for veterans has been declining in the last couple years, hurting many Jacksonville families.
"That shows the veterans that America does care that they get back into society and get a good job, and I appreciate those companies for stepping up and wanting to hire veterans," Durnal said.
"We're meeting this business' needs with the kind of skillset that veterans and their spouses can offer the organization, including leadership, critical thinking, creative skills, technical skills," Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson said in a phone interview.
Olson said Starbucks makes a great match for military families because there is always an option to transfer stores if there is a change in base location.
"One of the most popular benefits of Starbucks is the mobility and flexibility with scheduling at the individual store, but also to transfer to different stores across the country," Olson said.
Starbucks also plans to open a few stores around the country on or near military bases that will share their profits with the community.
Other companies planning to hire more veterans include UPS, JPMorgan and Wal-Mart.
The federal government provides a $9,600 tax credit to companies that hire veterans, but that program is slated to expire at the end of the year.