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Walmart Giving Hiring Preferences to Military Spouses

November 12, 2018, 12:05 PM HST (Updated November 15, 2018, 7:42 AM)
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Walmart will give hiring preference to military spouses, becoming the largest U.S. company to make such a commitment. The Military Spouse Career Connection, a new initiative by Walmart to recruit and hire military spouses, complements the 2013 Veterans Welcome Home commitment, enhanced in 2015, to hire 250,000 military veterans by 2020, a goal it is on track to surpass next year.

In Hawai‘i, Walmart has hired more than 518 veterans to date since the launch of the Veterans Welcome Home commitment in May 2013. Walmart announced it has hired more than 212,000* veterans nationwide since full implementation of the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment, and with over 32,000 veteran associates promoted since joining the Walmart and Sam’s Club teams, they are turning opportunities into careers.

“We applaud Walmart’s commitment to supporting our veterans in the civilian workforce,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Our veterans bring key skill assets to the workforce that can greatly aid businesses in Hawai‘i and across the nation. In addition to bringing valuable technical skills, veterans hold a high level of leadership ability, respect, integrity, reliability and working as team members.”

Russell Coyamin, Sr. retired from the U.S. Army in 1996 and, at his wife Pamela’s suggestion, they moved back to Kaua‘i. They’ve both worked at Līhue Walmart for the past 22 years. She is a full-time sales associate and he is a full-time stocker.

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“I had a hard transition to civilian life after being in the military for 22 years,” said Coyamin, Sr. “When I retired, I was handling logistics for a Division, which included making sure approximately 10,000 soldiers had everything they needed missions. Working at Walmart is a bit like being in the military. We’re all family with strong leadership and associate teams. I’m also proud of Walmart for all they are doing to support the careers of service members and their families.”

Garnett Stone retired from the U.S. Navy after serving for 20 years mostly in Hawai‘i at Pearl Harbor. He started with Kapolei Walmart in 2012 and moved to Hilo Walmart in June of 2017 where he serves as a full-time stocker in the food department.

“I was fortunate to be stationed at Pearl Harbor for most of my military career, which allowed me to learn and experience Hawai‘i’s culture,” said Stone. “The military is very mission-oriented where you strengthen yourself to strengthen the team. It’s similar here at Walmart. You have to be prepared by being proactive and shift and sacrifice for the betterment of the team. It’s the people who really make the store what it is and that’s a big factor here in Hilo with our associates and customers. Customers know me and are friendly and want to talk story. It’s a great quality of life here.”

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Michelle Sadumiano served 12 years as a Specialist E-4 Medic (68W) and, following a tour in Iraq, as a Dental Specialist (68E) in the Hawai‘i National Guard. In 2007, while still serving, she started at Kailua-Kona Walmart. The lifelong Kona resident currently oversees the store’s Ladies Apparel as Department Manager and has worked at the store now for 11 years.

“Walmart has been great with giving opportunities not only to the military, but also to their families,” said Sadumiano. “Since I continued to serve in the Hawai‘i National Guard for five years while first working with Walmart, I found the transition to civilian work was very smooth. Walmart’s Welcome Home Commitment helps military personnel be able to find suitable positions within the company—my first position was just what I was looking for—in the jewelry department.”

Zorana Billaber served a total of four years in the National Guard in California and Hawai‘i as a Specialist E-4 Supply Specialist (92A). She has worked at the Kailua-Kona Walmart for three years and currently is the Department Manager for infants.

“I love the people here,” said Billaber. “I started as a sales associate in electronics and now am working in infants and apparel. There’s a lot of great teamwork and the workers are amazing.”

Cal Madriaga served in the U.S. Army as a Specialist E-4 Motor Pool Clerk in Heilbronne, Germany, and as a Captain’s Driver at Fort Hood, Texas, during his four-year tour before returning to the Big Island in 1986. He’s worked at the Kailua-Kona Walmart for the past 13 years and currently serves as a Top Stocker in the food department.

“I think Walmart’s Commitment to Veterans is a good idea,” said Madiraga. “They recognize Veterans and help put them at the top of the hiring list. Plus, they are able to work with your schedule and accommodate certain days off as available.

Walmart honored veterans, their spouses and families across the country with dozens of in-store ceremonies and events, including activities at Hawai‘i stores. The Hilo store, for example, provided veterans with small gift packages. Nationally, Walmart associates and local stores shared Facebook “thank you” messages to veterans and their families.

“Military spouses are unsung heroes,” said Walmart President and CEO, Doug McMillon, today during a Veterans Day ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville. “They serve in partnership with their uniformed spouses, and we want to honor them and help them find a job or build an amazing career. To military spouses: You’ve got a home at Walmart!”

There are more than 500,000 active duty military spouses nationwide. While the U.S. jobless rate hovers at four percent nationally, military spouses face a 26% unemployment rate and a 25 percent wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts. A full 77% of these spouses want or need work, yet frequent relocation is often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career, according to the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership.

Military spouses are diverse, entrepreneurial, adaptable, educated, team-oriented and civically engaged, according to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Nearly 85% have some college education or higher. A quarter have a bachelor’s degree and 10% have an advanced degree.

“We have a duty to honor veterans and military families,” said Retired Brig. Gen. Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart. “But, more importantly, they are tremendous assets to our business. Military spouses bring many of the same leadership qualities we see in veterans, yet they are disproportionately unemployed. We welcome them to Walmart and hope they will consider us for the next step on their career journey.”

Through the Military Family Promise, Walmart has long offered military spouses and veterans the ability to transfer from one Walmart or Sam’s Club location to another when a spouse is transferred because of the military. The Military Spouse Career Connection takes the company’s commitment one step further by offering any military spouse with a current Uniformed Services Identification Card hiring preference when they apply for a job with the company beginning on Nov. 12, 2018. All candidates must meet the standard hiring criteria, and available positions can be found online.

*These projections and reported hires/promotions include veterans hired under Walmart’s original and expanded Veterans Welcome Home Commitment as well as other veterans hired by Walmart in this time frame. While Walmart thinks it is particularly important to support veterans as they make the transition to civilian life, Walmart believes all of them deserve respect and support, no matter when they left active duty.

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