In a speech to the National Retail Federation in New York on Tuesday, Walmart’s Chief Executive Bill Simon said the company would hire any returning veteran who wanted a job. He also said the company would buy more products from the U.S. and help more employees become full time.
Wal-Mart said it plans to hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years as part of a program to offer a job to “any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty.” Simon said veterans are often good employees, and that his company plans to begin hiring them after Memorial Day.
“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make,” he said. “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They’re quick leaders and they’re team players.”
The company says it plans to buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next 10 years. According to data from Wal-Mart’s suppliers, items that are made, sourced or grown in the U.S. account for about two-thirds of the company’s spending on products for its U.S. business.
Wal-Mart says that it has spoken to the White House about its commitment, and said the First Lady Michelle Obama’s team has already expressed an interest in working with Wal-Mart and with the rest of the business community. Wal-Mart says it believes it is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country.
First lady Michelle Obama, who led a White House drive to encourage businesses to hire veterans, called Wal-Mart’s announcement “historic.”
“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 the statement. “Wal-Mart is setting a groundbreaking example for the private sector to follow.”