Mega retailer Walmart announced on Tuesday that it would hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
In a speech during an annual event of the National Retail Federation, Walmart U.S President and CEO Bill Simon said that the company would offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within a year of leaving active duty service. Simons said opportunities would be primarily in the company’s stores and distribution centers.
“Veterans have a record of performance under pressure,” Simons said in a statement. “There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.”
Company officials spoke to First Lady Michelle Obama’s team about the new employment initiative, the announcement said. The Obama administration will be working with other major businesses over the next several weeks to help them make similar commitments.
“As our wars come to an end and our troops continue to come home, it's more important than ever that all of us -- not just government, but our businesses and nonprofits as well -- do our part to serve those who have served us so bravely,” First Lady Michelle Obama said, according to Walmart’s statement.
The program is meant to address the major problem of high unemployment rates for combat veterans. One estimate showed the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at nearly 10 percent, much higher than the national average. Another statistic said that veterans younger than 25 discharged in 2011 faced a 29.1 percent unemployment rate.
In 2011, the White House launched the Joining Forces initiative, designed to help increase post-combat veteran employment. The program has helped more than 125,000 veterans procure employment with more than 2,000 companies, according to the White House.