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"They're hiring America's sons and daughters back"

12:22 AM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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Walmart plans to hire 100,000 veterans beginning on Memorial Day.

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - Veterans looking for work received a big boost Tuesday.

Walmart executives say they plan to hire more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, starting on Memorial Day.  They will hire any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty.

A spokeswoman told WZZM 13 details are still being worked out in terms of what positions would be offered in West Michigan, but she said the pay would be higher than minimum wage.

"There's going to be a lot of people out of work," said Brian Lambert, an Air Force veteran, speaking about the tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who will soon leave active duty.

The unemployment rate for Michigan veterans like Lambert already stands at 29.4%, according to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.  Michigan's jobless rate for veterans is the highest in the country.

Now the world's largest retailer is stepping in to offer jobs to tens of thousands of them.

"It's great, anything is great for veterans," he said.

You'll find Lambert with his group at American Legion Post 459 in Grand Rapids. He served 22 years in the Air Force, got out in 1998, and has been unemployed for two years. You can imagine his enthusiasm -- his unemployment benefits expire in eight weeks.

"Absolutely, I'll talk to anybody at this point," he said.

A Walmart spokeswoman says they'll be hiring part-time and full-time in all departments -- clerks, distribution, and even management.  The spokeswoman wouldn't give exact details on pay, but says it would start above $8 an hour, and says the average for associates is $12.57 an hour.

Michael Tuffelmire says that's welcome news for fellow veterans.

"When I came back, if I could have had a job at Walmart, if it was a full time job that paid a wage that I could pay my rent and I could pay my bills, yes I would have taken it. I was struggling very hard," he said.

Tuffelmire served during operation Iraqi freedom and has been unemployed for six years. He's now enrolled at Aquinas College under the G.I. Bill.

Veterans say Walmart is smart -- it is hiring 100,000 of the most disciplined, hardest working people in America.

"We know how to get out of bed in the morning, we know how to be somewhere, and when someone tells us to be there, we're going to be there," said Lambert. 

"It's win-win situation because it looks good for them, they're hiring America's sons and daughters back and it's good for Walmart because they're getting a good workforce," said Tuffelmire.

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