Wal-mart has hired 170,000 veterans since the launch of its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment and is also revamping its pay policies for reservists, the company announced Tuesday.
The Veterans Welcome Home Commitment guarantees employment at Wal-mart to veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military since 2013 and is part of the company's total hiring goal of 250,000 veterans by the end of 2020. The retail giant hired 40,000 veterans in the last year, surpassing 2015-16 hiring efforts by a couple thousand.
Gary Profit, Wal-mart senior director of military programs, said these new hires are taking place at every level — from part-time, hourly sales associates to corporate-level executives.
Nearly 13 percent have been promoted to positions of greater responsibility within the company.
"The culture throughout Wal-mart is kind of of the same fabric that I experienced in Army values," said Profit, a retired brigadier general. "It’s kind of focused on the values of respect for the individual, service — in this case to our customers — striving for excellence, and all on a foundation of integrity. That’s what I think people who have served in the military found, and I think that’s what those same people find at Wal-mart."
Ronnie Vowell, an asset protection manager at a Wal-mart Neighborhood Market in Joplin, Missouri, agrees. While there isn’t much crossover in his current position and his 14 years as a machine gunner in the Marine Corps, Vowell said the company’s chain-of-command structure and practice of "taking care of their own" are reminiscent of his military days.
Vowell worked as a produce clerk and furniture department manager at Wal-mart while on active duty and returned to the company in 2016 after a decade as a middle-school special education teacher and football coach.
"I wanted to go somewhere where I’m being paid well for what I do and the capabilities that I had," he said.
To him, Wal-mart’s veteran hiring initiative is the company’s most important policy.
"I love the fact that military personnel is being recognized for their life skills and the training that they’ve received. It is one of the things that used to be lost in translation," Vowell said.
Wal-mart was recently ranked 37th on Military Times’ 2017 Best for Vets: Employers rankings, an annual list of employers whose company culture, recruitment and policies for military and veteran employees compare well in a competitive survey. The 2017 rankings included 82 companies from across more than 30 industries.
Outside of its hiring efforts, Wal-mart is also revamping its pay policies for reservists. Profit said Wal-mart employees who join the reserves will receive the difference between their military and civilian pay during basic training, a benefit that previously began after boot camp.
Profit said he feels the company had a "robust" policy to begin with but that the changes will allow reservist employees to focus more attention on their families and military service.
The company also announced a $100,000 grant to the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.
"We continue to believe that we set the standard on differential pay, that we’re hiring more veterans to welcome home those heroes and supporting families who have lost loved ones through our Walmart Foundation grant to (TAPS)," Profit said. "On Memorial Day, a really important time of the year, we’re bolstering already robust work for veterans, those who are serving, and their families and trying to remove any final obstacles and making it easier for them to work, live and serve."