ANOTHER VOICE

Walmart deserves praise for commitment to veterans

2013-01-18T00:00:00Z Walmart deserves praise for commitment to veterans Arizona Daily Star
January 18, 2013 12:00 am

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Like any successful company, Walmart knows a public relations coup when it sees one.

Plans announced recently are textbook-perfect: The nation's largest private employer said it would hire every recent veteran seeking a job, amounting to 100,000 hires over five years.

But dismissing this as a stunt would be a mistake.

Walmart's commitment to hire such a large number of veterans - and more important, its endorsement of their value as workers - is meaningful and one we hope will set an example for others to follow.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have had a tough haul.

Their unemployment rates outpace the nation as a whole, with veterans encountering difficulty with a perception among employers that former soldiers are unstable and lack skills that are transferable to the civilian world.

Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart U.S., took a step toward dispelling that stereotype with this:

"Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make," Simon, a Navy veteran, said in a speech to the National Retail Federation. "Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They're quick leaders and team players."

We have no illusions that Walmart will erase the veteran unemployment rate or solve all the financial problems for hired vets. Hourly Walmart wages are still too low to support a family, and far too many Walmart employees get stuck with part-time hours when they want full-time work.

Walmart has made many missteps for which it must make amends, which is often in the backdrop when big initiatives are announced. That is the gift of advocates and journalists who expose Walmart's flaws.

They push Walmart, and hopefully all of us, to do better. Today's beneficiaries are 100,000 veterans who served our country admirably and deserve to be welcomed home with open arms.

Walmart deserves praise for commitment to veterans

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