A force for good: Walmart puts full support behind veterans

Walmart surely has its share of detractors, who often complain about the massive company’s wage scale, benefits packages and its power in the marketplace, among other perceived issues.

But make no mistake, in a rotten economy with a dismal unemployment rate, Walmart at least hires people. Lots of people. Many of whom desperately need basic job skills.

And here they go again. Recently, the company launched a new initiative, the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, which it projects will lead to the hiring of more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years. The program aims to offer a job at Walmart to any honorably discharged veterans who are within their first 12 months off active duty.

This should be welcome news, regardless of what you think of Walmart. Yes, the unemployment rate has ticked down to 7.5 percent, but that number is deceptive at best, not taking into account the huge numbers of people who are either underemployed or who have stopped looking for work altogether. The U-6 unemployment rate is a much more accurate measurement, and it’s still hovering around a whopping 14 percent.

Walmart’s announcement isn’t just self-serving, patriotic window dressing, either. The company wants to see veterans get jobs, regardless of where those jobs are, as indicated by its $20 million commitment through 2015 to help veterans and their families make the transition to the civilian workforce through job training and education.

So say what you will about Walmart. Just don’t say they’re overlooking a deserving demographic in this country.