CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Walmart, West Virginia's largest private employer for the past 15 years, announced earlier this year that it plans to hire at least 100,000 veterans in the state and nationwide in the next five years.
The country's largest retailer announced Jan. 15 that it will offer a job to "any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty," Walmart Chief Executive Officer Bill Simon told the National Retail Federation in January.
Simon served 25 years in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves, said Brooke Buchanan, spokeswoman for Walmart.
All veterans are welcome to apply for a job at Walmart beginning Memorial Day, May 27, Buchanan said.
Walmart considers veterans "really great associates" because they "serve and sacrifice so much," Buchanan said.
"Veterans are quick learners and have a passion of serving others and it really fits in with the culture of Walmart," she said.
Veterans will be hired to work positions such as store manager, cashier or in a distribution center, depending on their qualifications, she said.
"The reason behind this program is because after our men and women have served so much, they shouldn't have to struggle to find a job," Buchanan said. "Every veteran may not want a job in retail, but if they do, they'll have one at Walmart."
More than 8 percent of all veterans are unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Almost 30 percent of young male veterans, ages 18 to 24-years-old, who served on active duty at any time since September 2001, are unemployed, according to the BLS.
Buchanan said Walmart strives to provide returning veterans with a job to "make that transition easier."
"Whether it's a stepping stone to a full-time job at Walmart or in retail, we believe providing these men and women a job will help them make those [occupational] decisions," Buchanan said.
The hiring move will also help each state economically since more residents will be employed, she said.
"Providing this opportunity will help lower the unemployment rate not only in West Virginia but around the country," Buchanan said. "But it's also our commitment to U.S. manufacturing, which will increase each state's economy by making this commitment."
About 100,000 of Walmart's 1.4 million employees in the U.S. are veterans.
Walmart serves more than 140 million customers nationwide each year, according to the National Retail Federation. Last year, the retailer's revenues reached $264 billion.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.