When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Walmart Backing Returning Vets

War is hell, and the servicemen and women who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with mental-health issues and difficulty finding jobs as civilians. Walmart Stores and its philanthropic arm are waiting when Johnny comes marching home with funding for re-entry services and jobs.  

The Walmart Foundation is giving $2.6 million to veterans organizations for job placement and early  intervention programs for older adults and women. The bulk of the funding is going toward veterans employment and training in California and Texas. The foundation selected Swords to Plowshares to receive $1.6 million to "innovate employment and training programs" for veterans re-entering civilian life back in the States.

This philanthropy by the nation's largest retailer also extends to job-placement programs for veterans 40 and over. The foundation selected the American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program for a $1 million grant to assist military veterans and their spouses to find gainful employment. Spouses go jobless an estimated 25 percent of the time, a rate that is almost five times the national average. 

Walmart Stores is doubling down on a mission-critical jobs program with a goal of hiring 250,000 honorably discharged veterans by 2020. Its commitment to the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment started in May 2013 with a goal of 100,000 new hires in five years, which the retailer exceeded. Retired Brigadier Gen. Gary Profit now oversees military programs for Walmart, which continues to build a bridge back home for vets.

The general said that strong support for returning service personnel is critical to their re-entry to civilian life. Because a job "is an important part of that transition," Walmart has created employment opportunities for 130,000 veterans since the retailer enlisted for a nationwide bridge back home campaign.

Jobs and veteran services aren't Walmart Foundation's only contribution to the cause.  The foundation is a major supporter of veterans' education, putting $20 million toward that purpose in a funding cycle that goes through 2019. 

Walmart's largesse complements a broader Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge, which supports community-based programs and startups aimed a service members, vets and their families. Corporate partners Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Bristol Meyers Squibb Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation and the McCormick Foundation created the Impact Pledge, which has exceeded $100 million in pledge support and is a project dear to First Lady Michelle Obama.