BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Retail giant Walmart is joining forces with the armed forces, with a promise of jobs for veterans.
With the unemployment rate for returning vets at 8.3 percent nationwide, Walmart plans to offer them a job.
The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions.
The move comes as Walmart tries to bolster its image amid widespread criticism. The company, which often is criticized for its low-paying jobs and buying habits in the U.S., recently has faced allegations that it made bribes in Mexico and calls for better safety oversight after a deadly fire at a Bangladesh factory that supplies its clothes.
Walmart said its initiatives are unrelated to those events, but rather are meant to highlight that companies don't have to wait for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to fix the economy.
In Oregon, two more Neighborhood Markets open January 16th in Beaverton and Gresham.
The program is called "Walmart's Welcome Home Commitment". It's open to vets who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Military within the last 12 months.
Vets will receive priority applicant status for jobs open at stores throughout the United States.
The program starts Memorial day, May 27th.
"I'm not really shocked at what Walmart can do, with our size to help the economy or the folks who might be struggling to find jobs," said Beaverton store manager, James Reiter.
Veterans will be first-in-line for available job openings in their local area within a 50-mile radius. The plan is to hire 100,000 veterans during the next five years.
Veterans can apply on-line at Walmart Careers with a Mission.