Wal-Mart, the nations largest retailer, will announce Tuesday a plan to hire every veteran who wants a job, provided that the veterans have left the military in the previous year and did not receive a dishonorable discharge.
The announcement, to be made in a speech in New York by the companys president and chief executive, William S. Simon, represents among the largest hiring commitments for veterans in history. Company officials said they believe the program, which will officially begin on Memorial Day May 27 this year will lead to the hiring of more than 100,000 people in the next five years, the length of the commitment.
Lets be clear: Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make, Simon will say in his keynote speech to the National Retail Federation, according to prepared text. These are leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service.
In a statement, first lady Michelle Obama, who has led a campaign by the White House to encourage businesses to hire veterans, called the Wal-Mart plan historic, adding that she planned to urge other corporations to follow suit.
The unemployment rate for veterans of the 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.
Reducing the veteran unemployment rate has been central to the work of Obamas campaign to assist veterans and military families, Joining Forces. In August, her office said private companies working with Joining Forces had hired or trained 125,000 veterans or their spouses in a single year, surpassing the groups goal of 100,000 a full year early.
Gary Profit, a retired Army brigadier general who is senior director of military programs at Wal-Mart, said the company might not be able to guarantee that every veteran who wants a full-time job will get one. But he said that because of the size of Wal-Marts retail operation and supply chain, it is almost certain that the company could find a job even a part-time one for any veteran who wanted one.