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4 firms, including Walmart, testify to hiring of veterans

by Frank E. Lockwood | June 27, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

WASHINGTON -- Walmart's commitment to hire 250,000 veterans isn't dependent on any new government initiatives, a company official informed lawmakers Tuesday.

Gary Profit, Walmart's senior director of military programs, told House Veterans Affairs subcommittee members that the nation's largest retailer has hired 200,000 recently discharged veterans in the past five years.

Profit, a retired brigadier general, appeared on a panel that included officials from other veteran-friendly employers: Starbucks, Dell EMC and Prudential Financial.

Asked by U.S. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., how the government could "incentivize" the hiring of additional veterans, Profit suggested no additional government aid is necessary.

"You don't probably have to incentivize anybody at this table because this is an enlightened self-interest for us. These people are great members of our team and we want them to join us and stay with us, and I think that the public policy that is already in place has already done a lot to make that good for everyone," Profit replied.

In May 2013, Walmart announced that it would hire 100,000 recently discharged service members by 2018.

It increased its goal to 250,000 in May 2015, giving itself five years to reach that milestone.

Walmart surpassed the 200,000 mark on April 30. In addition, more than 28,000 veterans have received promotions, Profit said.

The company has hired 5,311 veterans in Arkansas since the program was started.

"The nation makes a huge investment in the knowledge, skills and abilities of all who serve and further an equally huge investment in their growth and development as leaders, but I think the greatest thing that we find in the people who have served and their families is the values-based culture that they bring to our organization," Profit said. "We find that the notion of service and sacrifice and excellence and respect is something that aligns very well with the culture at Walmart and the values that we hold dear in addition to integrity."

Matt Kress, Starbucks' manager of veterans and military affairs, told the Veterans Affairs Committee's subcommittee on economic opportunity that his company also views veterans as a valuable resource.

The Seattle company announced in 2013 that it would hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by this year. After reaching that milestone last year, the coffee chain raised the goal to 25,000, giving itself until 2025 to complete the task.

"Moving forward, our ambition is to change what it means to support the troops," Kress said. "While being thanked for their service is appreciated, military members and their spouses want to be given the opportunity to demonstrate their incredible leadership, experience and talent that they bring to the workplace."

Elizabeth O'Brien, senior director of military spouse programs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said it's important for more businesses to make room for the spouses of service members.

It's important, she said, for companies "to provide employment opportunities that have traditionally been reserved for veterans. ... I'd love to see a shift from veteran friendly to military family [friendly]."

Business on 06/27/2018

Print Headline: 4 firms testify to hiring of veterans; Attitude key, not aid, Walmart says


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