Unemployment: It’s like being in the U.S. Army

By Barbara PeroneOn Parade

Being unemployed today is a lot like being in the United States Army – nobody wants to be there and everybody involved can’t wait until it’s all over so they can return to a normal life.

In U.S. military, you may be called into active-duty at any time during your tour. Same thing with being laid off from your job – it can happen at any time, sometimes without warning. And, just like an exhausted solider who gets redeployed, year-after-year, with all the constant layoffs, it’s a given that the equally tired worker will wind up on unemployment multiple times, over-and-over.

When you join a job club, or a professional service group, like PSGCNJ, you start out feeling like a civilian recruit going to boot camp for the first time. The newbie gets thrown into the mix, into an unfamiliar situation with a bunch of strangers. But, the “recruit” learns quickly that it’s essential to pitch in to help her “unit” so that everyone can “survive the war.”

When one member of your job group is successful, and actually finds work, you are truly happy for that person, that he is leaving the group, ready to move on to better things. Still, just like an Army buddy that gets sent home just ahead of you, you just can’t help feeling a little envious because you’re still stuck “fighting” in the same lousy “war” and there is no way of knowing when you will ever get “discharged.”

Just like in a real war, there are also real casualties of unemployment; the ones who die due to a loss of medical insurance and before they’ve had a chance to get a decent job. We’ve lost a few “soldiers” in our “war” and it’s never easy to see talented people come to such an end. Each time it happens you keep thinking that it’s wrong, that it shouldn’t have happened that way. Unfortunately, it does happen and it seems to be happening all too often these days.

Sad times like this, added to the inability to change one’s circumstances, no matter how hard one tries, are the very thing that can cause soldiers and job seekers, alike, to become clinically depressed. But, they can’t allow themselves to wallow in despair for any length of time because they’ve got a job to do, whether it be protecting the homeland or reaching their goal of finding suitable employment.

Along with the sad times there are also the happy times. The laughs we share at our committee meetings, picnics, holiday parties, and networking events where we eat a little food, have a few beverages and swap our “war” stories with one another; just like real soldiers when they have a chance to get a little R & R.

Finally, the one big thing soldiers and job seekers seem to have in common is that they have no way of knowing when “the war” will finally be over. Let’s hope, for all of our sakes, that our “war” will be over sooner rather than later.

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