Walmart promises to hire vets: What are the challenges?

The major retailer has pledged to hire 100,000 veterans, but even with such promises, the employment of returning military poses challenges.

Last month, the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was 10.8 percent. That's three full percentage points above the national average.

A major retailer said today it wants to help do something about that. In fact, the major retailer said that. Walmart says it is going to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years -- any veteran who wants a job, in fact.

Veteran advocates say the problem is a lot of service members returning home can't get jobs. And while a lot of employers say they want to hire veterans, the whole process is rife with challenges, according to Kurt Ronn, president of Atlanta-based recruiting firm HRworks.

"If I am hiring an operations manager for a big box store, as a hiring manager, I probably want someone with seven to 10 years experience as an operations manager for a big box store," says Ronn. "You really have to probably have been a vet with a desire to hire a vet to hire the [veteran]."

Plus, there are a lot of returning servicemen and women who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, says Ronn. And there is a lack of understanding among hiring managers about a veteran's skills. 

It takes a huge commitment by companies to hire veterans, and while Ronn says the Walmart promise is good, it is just a drop in the bucket.

"We have been talking about veteran employment for years," says Ronn. "If you are going to hire 100,000 people are you going to go the transition offices, talk to the transition people? How are you going to get to these people so there really is a seeded pool...so there is a question of making it a priority."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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