by Jennifer G. WIlliams
Walmart launches a renewed commitment to our nation’s veterans
Service members may not immediately think of Walmart when choosing their next career path, but retired BG Gary Profit says you should.
“When people think of Walmart, they usually think of our associates and cashiers — the employees seen when you visit the store,” said Profit, who serves as Walmart’s senior director of military programs. “But it is really so much more, and there are so many opportunities for people with all types of experience.”
“The way I explain it,” he continued, “is that you need to think of Walmart in terms of the DOD — the size, scope, budget…all the different things they do, and all of the things that need to be done to help an organization of its size run smoothly. It is interesting for people to realize the true scope of what is out there.”
And the retail giant upped its commitment to service members and veterans this year, expanding its 2013 projection of hiring 100,000 veterans by 2018, increasing the projection to 250,000 veterans by the end of 2020. Walmart also expanded its touted Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in May, now guaranteeing a job offer to any eligible U.S. veteran honorably discharged from active duty service since the establishment of the program on Memorial Day 2013. The previous commitment was only for veterans within 12 months off active duty, and by May 2015, more than 92,000 veterans had been hired, with nearly 8,000 already promoted to jobs with higher pay and greater responsibility within the company.
Since Memorial Day 2013, Walmart has hired more than 92,000 veterans, and nearly 8,000 have already been promoted to jobs with higher pay and greater responsibility, as of May 2015. These projections and reported hires/promotions include veterans hired under our original and expanded Commitment as well as other veterans hired by Walmart in this time frame.
“Today, we count more than 100,000 current or prior military members as employees,” said Profit, “along with more than 150,000 military family members.”
“The way we looked at it, if you served and sacrificed for your country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job,” he said.
Profit adds that at the time of the original commitment, Walmart execs thought the 100,000-hire goal was quite ambitious. “And then we neared that goal only two years into our commitment, so we took a step back and thought, “how high should we aim now?’”
Walmart also issued a challenge to their great number of retail partners to hire more veterans and military family members, he said.
“We can always do more — especially when we work together,” said Profit. “So we broadened our focus and opened up the opportunity to all who have served.”
Walmart’s commitment to the military is nothing new, said Profit. “In fact,” he said, “Sam Walton used money he’d earned in the Army to buy his first store.”
Walton attended the University of Missouri as an ROTC cadet, and later joined the military in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, where he supervised security at POW camps and aircraft plants during WWII. He rose to the rank of Captain before leaving the service in 1945, adding money he’d saved while in the Army to a loan from his father-in-law to buy his first variety store in Arkansas.
In 1950, the Waltons left Newport for Bentonville, where Sam opened Walton’s 5&10 on the downtown square. They chose Bentonville because Helen wanted small-town living, and Sam could take advantage of the different hunting seasons that living at the corner of four states had to offer.
Sam opened the first Walmart in 1962 at the age of 44 in Rogers, Ark., and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Walmart operates more than 11,500 retail units under 65 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. The company employs 2.2 million associates around the world — 1.4 million in the U.S. alone.
Thirty years later, President George H. W. Bush awarded Walton the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Walton passed away soon after receiving the award in 1992, at the age of 74.
The sheer scope of career opportunities with Walmart is staggering, said Profit.
“The most direct translations to jobs held in the military include logistics and transportation,” he said. The largest percentage of veterans working at Walmart fall into those areas, said Profit.
From security at its worldwide stores and distribution centers to marketing directors and web development engineers, production artists to architects — there is literally a job to fit just about anyone’s experience and training.
“We also value greatly the investment in leader growth,” said Profit. “I always say, bring us a good leader and we can teach them the retail business.”
Veterans can explore career options with the company at www.walmartcareerswithamission.com, an interactive site that helps veterans, transitioning military and military spouses match their skills to Walmart careers.
Walmart also participates in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program. Walmart, Sam’s Club and other employers have recruited tens of thousands of veterans through hundreds of career fairs. For a full list of upcoming events, please visit www.uschamber.com/veterans.
Military Family Promise
Profit said the company understands the hardships faced by many military spouses trying to maintain a career while moving with their service member. “We try to help spouses turn jobs into careers.” And with stores in all 50 states and around the world, it definitely can be a career that moves with you, he added.
Walmart’s Military Family Promise guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel, and military spouses, employed at Walmart and Sam’s Club who move because they or their spouse have been transferred by the U.S. military. The promise also ensures associates called away to active military duty will be paid any difference in their salary if the associate is earning less money during their military assignment.
Reserve and National Guard
“There is a special place in my heart for Reserve and Guard members,” said Profit. “When I first came here, I was amazed at how many Walmart associates were mobilized with the Guard and Reserve — more than 3,000 on military leave greater than 90 days. It’s a very important relationship — Guard and reserve members are twice the citizen, and in a dual role.”
“We think it’s really important to take care of these folks,” he said. “So not only do we offer differential pay to those who are mobilized, but we take on the further responsibility to make sure their job is there when they return. It’s so important to take care of these people when they are mobilized so they do not have to worry about their job back home — instead, they can concentrate on the tasks in front of them while they serve.”
The Bottom Line
Profit insists, “This isn’t about philanthropy — it’s just great business…I often tell people that the U.S. military is the largest, most diverse talent pool in the world.”
“And it isn’t just about finding a place at Walmart…but also finding success — and that’s good for everyone involved.”