(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), the world's largest retailer, said it plans to hire more than 100,000 veterans in the United States over the next five years, a move supported by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Most of the veterans will be placed in the company's stores and clubs, and some will be employed in distribution centers, Walmart U.S. Chief Executive Bill Simon said in a speech to be to delivered on Tuesday at the National Retail Federation conference.
The retailer will start issuing job offers to veterans from Memorial Day in May. The offers will be given to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty.
"Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make ... veterans have a record of performance under pressure," Simon said in the speech, a copy of which was provided to Reuters.
Wal-Mart said in a statement that it had spoken with the White House about the hiring commitment and First Lady Michelle Obama's team had expressed an interest in working with the retailer.
"As our wars come to an end and our troops continue to come home, it's more important than ever that all of us - not just government, but our businesses and non-profits as well - do our part to serve those who have served us so bravely," Michelle Obama said in the Wal-Mart statement.
Walmart U.S. is the largest retail chain and the largest private employer in the United States, with about 1.3 million employees.
"We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more," Simon said.
The veterans hiring initiative was first reported by the New York Times.