Wal-Mart was expected to announce on Tuesday a pledge to hire every veteran who wants a job, the New York Times reported
William S. Simon, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart U.S., revealed the initiative in a speech. The promise marks the largest hiring commitment for veterans ever in history.
"Let's be clear: Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make," Simon said in a keynote speech to the National Retail Federation in New York City, according to prepared text. "These are leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service."
Provided the veterans have left the military in the previous year and barring a dishonorable discharge, the nation's largest retailer plans to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years, according to company officials. Most of the jobs will be in Wal-Mart stores or its Sam's club locations. Some will be in the company's distribution centers. The program is slated to begin Memorial Day — May 27 this year.
Reducing veteran unemployment rates was one of the few veterans' issues discussed in the 2012 election, and has been one of Michelle Obama's main goals (her campaign, Joining Forces, is designed to help military families find jobs). She called Wal-Mart's pledge "historic" and hopes other corporations will follow suit.
"We all believe that no one who serves our country should have to fight for a job once they return home," the first lady said in a statement. "Wal-Mart is setting a groundbreaking example for the private sector to follow."
The unemployment rate for veterans of recent wars has remained stubbornly above that for nonveterans, though it has been falling steadily, dropping to just below 10 percent for all of 2012. That was down from 12.1 percent the year before. The year-end unemployment rate for nonveterans was 7.9 percent in 2012.
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