By: Bryan Charles Moore

On January 15, 2013, retail giant Wal-Mart announced plans to hire any eligible returning veteran who is interested in working for the company. According to the CEO of Wal-Mart, Bill Simon, the company expects to hire over 100,000 veterans throughout the span of the next five years.[1] During the press conference, Simon went on to say, “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They’re quick leaders and they’re team players.” As such, it appears that Wal-Mart sees some of the quality traits that veterans of the United States military possess and are extensively trained to exhibit and hopes to be able to utilize those same traits in their day-to-day operations.

According to information released thus far, Wal-Mart plans to offer jobs at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, the company’s headquarters, and related offices to qualifying veterans beginning this upcoming Memorial Day. In order to be offered a position, a veteran must have been honorably discharged and must be within their first twelve months off of active-duty. Unemployment following deployment has been a real concern for many veterans. Statistics indicate that the unemployment rate for current-conflict veterans, or those who have served in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, has been measured at 10.8%, which is significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 7.8%.[2] As such, many employment agencies see this forthcoming policy from Wal-Mart as a beneficial tool that may be able to help returning veterans find jobs in a sluggish economy.

However, not all responses to the newly proposed plan have been positive. Wal-Mart has had its fair share of critics on its way to becoming such a successful corporation. Many critics have been quite outspoken in denouncing specific company policies. In response to this proposal, advocates have suggested that Wal-Mart may only hire veterans for part-time work schedules and that Wal-Mart will benefit from the tax incentives of hiring returning veterans.[3] As many of the details have yet to be realized and the program has yet to begin, this is primarily speculation based on prior impressions of Wal-Mart and their policies.

At the very least, this announcement suggests there will be some relief for returning veterans in regards to job availability. However, the extent of this relief is yet to be fully determined. First Lady Michelle Obama has expressed enthusiasm in the initiative as well as in working with Wal-Mart and other businesses to encourage employment of America’s veterans. After calling Wal-Mart’s plan “historic,” the First Lady said, “We all believe that no one who serves our country should have to fight for a job once they return home. Wal-Mart is setting a groundbreaking example for the private sector to follow.” Of course, that sentiment is something this author agrees with whole-heartedly.





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