Hire a Veteran: It's the Best Business Decision You'll Ever Make

The Huffington Post

By Bill Simon, President & CEO, Walmart U.S.

April 30, 2013

The Huffington Post

Bill Simon’s blog post appeared in The Huffington Post

I was at the White House today for an event with President and First Lady Obama and Vice President and Dr. Biden on creating opportunity for veterans. They are leading an important effort to bring together all Americans to support our veterans and military families, and it's making a difference.

The biggest issue facing our veterans today is jobs. Sadly, too many of those who fought for us abroad now find themselves fighting for jobs at home.

It's up to us as Americans to right this -- and to put our veterans back to work. And let's be clear: hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions any of us can make. Veterans bring to the private sector that seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills. These are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. Our nation has invested in their skills, and it shows.

So earlier this year,  Walmart announced that we will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first 12 months off active duty. We project that Walmart will hire and train more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years.

Since that announcement, we have been building the systems to launch this effort on Memorial Day. Today, I'm pleased to share we've set a goal of a 30 day hiring process for veterans seeking direct job placement -- 30 days from job application to job offer. And we believe the vast majority of applicants will be placed within 30 days.

I take this issue personally. When I came off active duty in the Navy, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up taking a job in a restaurant -- tending bar -- while I sorted things out. All these years later, I can only say a heartfelt thank you to Tommy Condon's Irish Pub in Charleston, South Carolina. They gave me nine great months before I went to grad school. And I'm eternally grateful.

Not every returning veteran wants to work in retail. But every veteran who does will have a place to go. Maybe they're on the GI Bill with kids at home and need a part-time job to make ends meet. Maybe they're not sure what their next move will be and need something to tide them over. Or maybe they want a whole new career. In fact, Walmart already has more than 100,000 veterans working for us today, and we will continue our long standing practice of hiring veterans at any point in their career.

We've also been reaching out to other companies. When we announced our commitment, the First Lady's team immediately expressed an interest in working with us and the entire business community to build on our pledge through the Joining Forces Initiative.

To move this effort forward, I wrote to 50 CEOs in the U.S. to urge them to make hiring commitments of their own. And I'm proud that 43 of those companies joined us in March for a working meeting at the White House. I'd like to thank the Joining Forces Initiative, which has been a great partner in creating awareness and building momentum.

I can also share today that we're working with several other companies to create a talent exchange that will help veterans find the most appropriate job openings for them -- no matter where they apply. We want to offer veterans the best range of opportunities across different industries and occupations should they need it.

Every company in America has benefited from the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. Now, the private sector needs to step up for our heroes, just as they have stood for us.

Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom. I believe it's our responsibility to give them a land of possibility when they return.