BENTONVILLE, Ark., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. discount retailer Walmart has pledged to hire any veteran in their first year after active duty, Chief Executive Officer Bill Simon said Tuesday.
The initiative, which is to begin on Memorial Day, was lauded by first lady Michelle Obama, whose "Joining Forces" program seeks to encourage more businesses to hire returning soldiers, many of whom struggle to find work as they make the transition back into civilian life.
"Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make," Simon said in a company release. "Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They're quick learners and team players. They are leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever."
Obama urged other businesses to follow Walmart's example and put an emphasis on hiring veterans.
"This is exactly the kind of act we hoped would be possible when we started Joining Forces -- a concrete example of our nation's love and support that our troops, veterans, and their families can feel in their lives every day," she said in a statement.
Simon also pledged in a speech to the National Retail Federation to increase the amount of American-made products Walmart stocks on its shelves. Simon said two-thirds of goods sold at Walmart stores are sourced to American manufacturers. He pledged to increase that amount by another $50 billion over the next decade.