TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The veteran unemployment rate nationwide is dropping, and here in East Texas there is an opportunity for it to drop even further.
Walmart is opening a Neighborhood Market in Tyler's Southpark Shopping Center in the 1800 block of East Southeast Loop 323. The corporation says they are also looking to hire veterans who have recently completed their service.
In December, the unemployment rate for all veterans nationwide was 5.5 percent-- that's the lowest in five years. It is down from a national average of 6.7 percent in November. Walmart, along with a handful of other companies, has made a concerted effort to hire these men and women who have served.
Specifically, Walmart is looking to fill 95 jobs in the next two months, and they're offering a job to any qualified veteran who has been honorably discharged in the last 12 months.
"When I was discharged from service, it was a struggle finding work," explains Matthew Branton.
Branton is a veteran now working at The Green Zone in Tyler. It's a place where veterans help each other adjust to civilian life. Branton says their staff sees 50-100 unemployed veterans come through their doors each week.
"If you don't have the education, a lot of people don't want you no matter what you've done for your country. This country and our freedom was built on what these guys are doing," adds Branton.
Branton says Walmart's opportunity is a great one, he'd like to see more businesses do it and he'd like to see the qualifications expanded.
"The thing is, there are more veterans that are out there that have been out a lot longer than a year. We've got guys out there from the Vietnam era that are fully capable of working --guys that were out in Desert Storm have been out for 20 years now-- they don't have jobs. What are we going to do with those guys? They need employment too," says Branton.
In addition to job opportunities, the new store could also bring in new business for its neighbors.
"I think it'll benefit everybody in the shopping center," says Dan Boone, the owner of Daniel Boone's restaurant.
Boone says most businesses in the Southpark shopping center took a hit when Albertson's left.
"We all had to replant our marketing strategies and spend more money in advertising to get those guys to come back, but with this... it should really help," he says.
Walmart says the majority of their new hires will begin work in March to help prepare the store for its grand opening. If you're interested in seeing what opportunities Walmart has to offer, click here.
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