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Walmart Kicks Off Drive to Hire 100,000 Veterans

By:  Jay Moye May 22, 2013
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Veteran hugging

Starting Memorial Day, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged military veteran within his or her first 12 months off active duty. 'Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom,' said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart's U.S. business. 'When they return, it must be to a land of possibility.'

Walmart is on a mission to hire 100,000 military veterans over the next five years.

Starting Memorial Day (Monday, May 27), the world’s largest retailer will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first 12 months off active duty. Most positions will be in Walmart's stores and Sam’s Clubs, and the company has committed to an accelerated hiring process of 30 days from job application to final offer.

There are currently more than 800,000 unemployed veterans in the U.S., and an estimated 1 million men and women will transition back to civilian life over the next five years.

“Sadly, too many of those who fought for us abroad now find themselves fighting for jobs at home,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart's U.S. business, who announced the pledge in January. “Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom. When they return, it must be to a land of possibility.”

And Simon would know. Upon returning from serving in the Navy years ago, he needed time to clear his head and map out his next move. He took a job tending bar at an Irish pub in Charleston, S.C. 

“That transition from active duty is such a critical period in your life,” he explained. “They gave me nine great months before I went to grad school, and I’m eternally grateful.”

Walmart Veterans logo

Now the largest private employer of veterans, Walmart’s history with the military traces back to founder Sam Walton, who served as a captain in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps during World War II. Over the years, the retailer has fostered relationships with military academies and associations to provide career opportunities for veterans and military families.

In 2008, Walmart executives recognized a shortage of talent at the store manager level; the company’s hiring and development process struggled to keep pace with its rapid growth. Simon spearheaded the launch of a program to recruit junior military officers, or JMOs.

"The thinking was that we could bring in world-class leadership talent that was already trained and ready to go," Jennifer Seidner, senior recruiting manager, explained in a 2010 interview with Fortune. "And then we could teach them retail, because we know that pretty well."

Later that year, Walmart tapped retired Army brigadier general Gary Profit as senior director of military recruitment. The focus on veterans was quickly ingrained in the company’s overall talent management strategy, and the hiring pledge announced this year took this focus to the next level.

Profit says hiring veterans is not an act of charity. “While we’re very mindful of our responsibility to lead from a civic and social responsibility standpoint, this isn’t corporate philanthropy,” he adds. “This is good business.”

Veterans represent the world’s largest and most diverse talent pool, thanks to the military’s focus on training and leadership development. "Veterans have a record of performance under pressure,” Simon adds. “They're quick learners and team players. These are leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service. Our nation has invested in their skills and it shows.”

Profit adds, “A young veteran who has served during these times is mature far beyond his or her years.”

Walmart today employs approximately 100,000 veterans. To help nurture an inclusive community, veterans who join Walmart are paired with veteran employees who show them the ropes and serve as mentors during their first few months on the job.

The retailer’s commitment to continuous learning and development and track record of corporate citizenship appeal to soldiers returning home, Profit notes.

“Ours is a values-based culture that’s compatible with what they experienced while in uniform and encourages all associates to better themselves at every opportunity,” he concludes. “It’s about being part of something that’s larger than themselves, and to which they can add value.”

Learn more about Walmart’s commitment to hire veterans at http://walmartcareerswithamission.com