"Tired" may be part of the word "retired," but it doesn't ring true in Pace.
The Pace/Pea Ridge Wal-Mart's workforce includes about 40 veterans from various wars.
Coming straight from military service, some were afraid they would not find a decent job. Stephen Williams, store manager, says: "Wal-Mart has always had a flexible workplace policy regarding former military members."
For many of these folks wanting to stay close to home after the experiences of far-away combat zones, relief was found at the local superstore: a job, a position in a community - a way to make a living in a difficult economy.
Williams, himself a 2003 Iraqi Freedom veteran, returned to Milton to find employment and was hired as a store manager three years ago. He went directly from college to the Marine Corps, to Wal-Mart.
"When I hear about a veteran looking to transition, I will meet with him in person. We always look favorably on military experience," says Williams.
The local store has former military members from every branch and from many wars.
Officials say every attempt is made to cater to the needs of a specific challenge a veteran might have in his/her search for employment.
Wal-Mart is the largest employer of Santa Rosa County with three stores and almost 1,300 workers. In January, the national retailer announced commitments to help returning veterans find jobs as they come off active duty. Speaking at the National Retail Federation’s annual BIG Show, Wal-mart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon said, beginning on Memorial Day, Wal-mart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty. Most of these jobs will be in Walmart stores and clubs, and some will be in distribution centers and the home office.
“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make,” says Simon. “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.”
The company projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years.
“We believe Wal-mart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more,” adds Simon. “I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform.
"Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom. When they return, it must be to a land ofpossibility.”