MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting on Veteran’s Day, an American retailer says it will hire more than 100,000 returning veterans in the next five years.

Wal-Mart will offer jobs to any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first year off from active duty.

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The opportunities will be in stores, distribution centers and the home office.

The numbers are against veterans finding employment. Capt. Jeff Pratt was one of those returning veterans struggling to find a job.

“Finding full-time quality employment was a big thing for me,” Pratt said.

According to U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics, as of December 2012, the unemployment rate for civilians is 7.5 percent, while people who have served in the last decade have 10.8 percent unemployment.

That’s down from more than 12 percent unemployment for returning service members as of a year ago.

Pratt says Wal-Mart and other companies will benefit from what returning service members have to offer.

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“Leadership value; there is honor, integrity in everything we do in the military,” he said.

Pratt was one of the lucky ones.

“Companies like UnitedHealth Group and others that are out there have engaged in a process that will gainfully employ returning service members,” he said.

His military job in logistics transferred nicely to UnitedHealth. Pratt said it was easy because of a military skills translator the company uses on its website.

That military skills translator is used by many other companies. The Minnesota National Guard worked numerous Minnesota-based companies such as Target, Best Buy and US Bank to help soldiers in get jobs.

And it has paid off.

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When the Red Bulls returned last May, 20 percent faced unemployment. Today? Only 35 of those 2,700 soldiers do not have jobs.

Reg Chapman