Wal-Mart has announced a plan to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years. Under the program, the nation's largest retailer pledges to offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first 12 months off active duty.
First lady Michelle Obama, who is leading a White House push to encourage employers to hire veterans, called Wal-Mart's announcement "historic" and urged other businesses to follow its lead. Wal-Mart's hiring plan comes amidst reports that the unemployment rate for veterans remains well above that of nonveterans.
At the end of 2012, the unemployment rate for nonveterans stood at 7.9 percent as compared with nearly 10 percent for veterans, though this figure represents an improvement from 2011. In addition, Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released in late 2012 show that nearly one out of five women who served in the military at home or abroad during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is unemployed.
Wal-Mart said its plan officially will begin on Memorial Day. Most of these jobs will be in Wal-Mart stores and clubs while some will be in distribution centers as well as the company's home office.
In the next several weeks, the White House is expected to convene the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and major American employers to encourage more commitments to train and employ returning veterans.