Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Walmart but all opinions are my own.
5 Ways Walmart Is Helping Military Veterans and Veteran-Owned Businesses
On Wednesday, September 20th, I attended the inaugural VetSource event in Norfolk, Virginia. I was thrilled to be invited and I learned so much. The goal of the VetSource event was to help veterans, military, and military spouse-owned businesses by connecting them with Fortune 500 companies. During the event, nearly 200 veteran-owned business owners were able to network with an impressive list of companies: Walmart, First Data, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson, and American Express (just to name a few).
According to the Small Business Administration, of the more than 27 million small businesses in the U.S., more than 2.5 million are veteran-owned. Veteran-owned businesses generate over $1.2 trillion in sales per year and they employ more than 5.8 million people in the U.S. As you can see, veteran-owned businesses are a big part of this nation’s economy but collaborative support is often needed as they transition from military life or transition into different phases in their business. That’s why events like VetSource are so important.
Since the goal of many small business owners is to see their product on store shelves, tips on how to make this happen was discussed by a panel that included Retired Brigadier General Gary Profit (Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart), Pat DeSanto (Corporate Supplier Diversity Program Manager at Lockheed Martin), and Dr. Vivian Greentree (Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Citizenship at First Data). For at least an hour, these three panelists answered questions related to supply and demand, being procurement ready, and how to write a good proposal. I was impressed by the quality of advice given but my favorite advice/tip came from Mr. Profit, “successful small businesses know what their customers want.”
➡ Good morning! I’m in #norfolk at the inaugural #VetSource event. Today’s event is all about connecting veteran ??owned small businesses with Fortune 500 companies. In the center is Gary Profit, Senior Director of Military Programs at Walmart and retired Brigadier General. AD Walmart’s goal is to hire 250K veterans by 2020. On the left is Dr. Greentree from First Data Corp and on the right is Mr. Desanto from Lockheed Martin. If you’re a veteran with a small biz, see how Walmart can help you at walmartcareerswithamission.com ❗#veterans #militarylife #military #businessowner #walmart #jobs #norfolk #rva #virginia
Throughout the day, I learned how active Walmart is in supporting members of the military, veterans, and their families. As the spouse of a veteran, and daughter of a veteran, I was filled with emotion several times throughout the day. Veterans matter to me and they matter to Walmart.
Here are 5 Ways Walmart Is Helping Military Veterans and Veteran-Owned Businesses:
1. On Memorial Day 2013, Walmart announced the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment. The Commitment guarantees a position at Walmart or Sam’s club for every veteran honorably discharged since Memorial Day 2013. Since then, they’ve hired more than 179,000 veterans and promoted 24,000+ more. On Memorial Day 2015, Walmart’s commitment was extended further to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020.
Update: As of May 2018, Walmart is now 80 percent of the way toward its goal of hiring 250,000 veterans by the end of 2020.
2. In May 2017, Walmart announced expansions to its military leave of absence policy, offering differential pay to all eligible military associates taking on assignments lasting more than three days and through the duration of leave – including basic training. This means if an associate’s military salary is less than what they were making at their job at Walmart, the company will pay them the difference while they are on a military leave of absence. In 2016, Walmart associates took more than 4,400 military leave of absences.
Walmart is one of the first major retailers to apply differential pay to include basic training, so associates who are considering enlisting in the armed forces can make that decision without fear of losing wages. In addition, Walmart is taking steps to streamline and simplify the internal process required to obtain differential pay – with the goal of making it easier on associates and their families, so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time on their service.
3. Walmart is one of fourteen founding members of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB), part of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The CVOB supports the success of veteran, service member, and military spouse-owned businesses by connecting them with entrepreneurial education and training, small business resources and solutions, and commerce and supplier opportunities. The VetSource Event is one of many events that Walmart (and CVOB) sponsors to help veteran-owned businesses be successful. You can find a complete list of events here.
4. In 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged $20 million dollars for veteran reintegration programs. With the early completion of the commitment in May 2014, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation renewed the commitment and announced a $20 million dollars through 2019 to help address the challenges many veterans face when returning to civilian life.
5. Walmart has an online website dedicated solely to veterans, military, and their family. Walmartcareerswithamission.com offers online resources that include guidance on transitioning to civilian life, a job search portal, support and employment for military spouses, interview tips, resume help, and real-life stories.
As I chatted with attendees during breaks, in hallways, and in the exhibitor area, I noticed recurring themes:
- a desire to succeed
- pride in their country
- gratefulness &
- a willingness to work hard.
With Walmart’s guidance, I have no doubt that the veteran-owned businesses (and military spouses) will have everything they need to become successful. After serving their country, they deserve it.
Know a veteran who runs a small business? Forward them the link to this post. You never know, you could end up seeing their product on Walmart’s shelves!