Walmart U.S. president and CEO William Simon is expected to announce on Tuesday that the company will hire any U.S. veteran who wants a job provided that the veteran has left the military within the last year and has not been dishonorably discharged.
“Let’s be clear; hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make,” Simon will say according to his prepared remarks. “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They’re quick learners, and they’re team players. These are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.”
First Lady Michele Obama, who, along with Dr. Jill Biden, heads up the Obama administration’s “Joining Forces” program designed to put returning veterans to work, applauded Walmart’s “historic” decision. “We all believe that no one who serves our country should have to fight for a job once they return home,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement. “Wal-Mart is setting a groundbreaking example for the private sector to follow.”
The unemployment rate for veterans, while steadily falling, has remained much higher than the national average, as servicemembers returning from war have struggled to find work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that he unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was at 10.8 percent (well above the national average of 7.8 percent). However Veterans Affairs noted that “the annual jobless rate for post-9/11 Vets was 9.9 percent in 2012; a significant drop from the annual average in 2011 of 12.1 percent.”
“The military instilled in you a sense of pride, honed your leadership skills and drew on the deep sense of purpose you carry throughout everything you do,” says Walmart’s “Careers With A Mission” website, “Continue making the most of these traits without compromise at Walmart.” The company says it hopes to hire more than 100,000 veterans under the new program.
Walmart became involved in the Obama administration’s “Joining Forces” program in 2011, announcing that it “guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel, and military spouses, employed at Walmart and Sam’s Club who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the United States military.”
“They like military people because they have a sense of hierarchy and a commitment to the organization they are in,” Nelson Lichtenstein, a labor historian at the University of California who wrote a book on Walmart, told the New York Times. “And that’s important to Wal-Mart.”