Walmart’s commitment earlier this year to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years prompted the USO to award Walmart U.S. COO Gisel Ruiz its 2013 Woman of the Year Distinguished Service Award.
Ruiz was presented with the award at the USO’s 47th annual luncheon where she said the honor was humbling and a surprise.
"I’ve never been through boot camp. I’ve never been sent on a life-threatening mission. I’ve never had to say goodbye to my two daughters and wonder with a broken heart when I would see them next," Ruiz said. "And then I realized – that’s point. We all have a role to play. Every civilian, every business, every organization has the opportunity, the obligation, to protect what’s great about our country."
She noted that Wamart already counts 100,000 veterans among its U.S. employee base of 1.2 million and said it was a privilege to represent a company that believes in the power of veterans and is committed to hiring even more.
"We recognize that not all veterans want a career in retail but every veteran who does will now have a place to go," Ruiz said. "Let me be clear. Walmart’s commitment to hiring veterans is not a fashionable trend. It’s not a charitable cause. It’s a strategic decision we made because we have seen first hand the positive impact veterans have on business."
Walmart first announced its commitment to hire 100,000 veterans in January when Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon gave a speech at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention. Walmart said it would offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty and estimated it would mean hiring 100,000 veterans.
According to Ruiz, Walmart’s pledge is that those who fought for us abroad should not have to fight for jobs at home.
"Through your service, you give us a land of freedom. When you come home, it must be to a land of possibility," Ruiz said at the award presentation.