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March 31, 2008


We don't know whether to damn the BusHitler, or praise him for protecting our brave, child-like, murdering troops from the worst economy since Herbert Hoover:

Thank God for Stop Loss

...because soldiers aren't capable of living in the cold cruel world outside the hellish military cocoon.

At least that's what the LA Times wants you to believe. Vets Face Grim Job Prospects - and if you think I'm exaggerating above, here are a few key quotes from the first few paragraphs explaining why.

It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes us wondah
How we keep from goin' undah:

sagging economy... struggling domestic job market limits their options even more... almost in tears because the outlook was so bad... want so badly to go to work, and there's no question that organizations want to hire them. It's just bad timing that the economy is so awful... forecast for young veterans seems grim.

There's that Grim feller again... kind of suspicious-like, the way he keeps showing up, isn't it? Of course, considering what he's been through, it's only a matter of time before he goes completely off his head and starts shooting up the place.

On the otter heiny, it's just damned inexcusable what George Bush has done to this poor, iggerant fellow:

"I don't put it past our military to spin stories that soldiers will get the best training and, when they get out, they'll have the world at their feet," said Ortiz, a veteran of the first Gulf War. "It is a false promise."

The transitional assistance program run by the Department of Defense is insufficient, Ortiz said. And when veterans get intimidated by the lack of job opportunities, many give up on finding civilian work and reenlist, he said.

Discouraged by an unsuccessful job search, with no gas money to go to interviews or college, Fabian Serrano, 27, of Riverside County, said he was tempted to rejoin the Marines.

He doubts he will ever find his ideal job as a cartoon designer, or any other worthwhile post. And with a wife, parents and younger brother to support, Serrano said he can't take a minimum-wage position and hope for a promotion later.

A fellow Marine persuaded the sergeant, who served in Iraq and is now in the Reserve, to attend his first job fair. But Serrano had no resume -- only a high school diploma and nearly a decade of experience shooting cannons and working as a military policeman.

"I have no good sense of direction of where to start and where to go. None of my experience transfers," he said. "There's nothing out here for me, so I might as well go back to active duty and stay there."

Criminal, really.

Ten years, during which the poor man managed to rack up ... what?

Ten years of on the job training and experience in artillery and police work. I wonder if he ever managed, in that 10 years, to move into a supervisory position?

Not a single thing to put on a resume, in ten years? Not a single training class or marketable skill? That's... incredible. Not even any of that police work.

And to think that he can't just leap from a career as a military policeman into the completely unrelated field of cartoon artistry, as he certainly would be able to in the civilian world! Go figure. Damned military recruiters just lie all day long, don't they. If only they had forced him to take advantage of the military's liberal Tuition Assistance programs or the GI bill during that ten years he was in the military. Because, you know, a college degree really helps when you're looking for work.

But again, lying recruiters. Disgusting how they keep a man down. It's almost like there's some kind of conspiracy out there.

Posted by Cassandra at March 31, 2008 07:39 AM

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There's that Grim feller again... kind of suspicious-like, the way he keeps showing up, isn't it? Of course, considering what he's been through, it's only a matter of time before he goes completely off his head and starts shooting up the place.

I believe Chuck Z has asserted that we all get one PTSD killing, scott free. So everybody better be on her best behavior from now on. ;)

Posted by: Grim at March 31, 2008 05:27 PM

Cartoon designer? They make it sound as if he wants to be an architect or something. Or designs clothes. Not that I don't like my dailies, but, cartooning isn't exactly the cash-cow of industries.

Posted by: Kevin L at March 31, 2008 06:18 PM

What I can't understand is why in the Sam Hill he would expect to do a Saudi Sweep from police work to cartoon designing with no training or degree and feel deprived?

I was a housewife for 18 years. I did customer service work on and off but I had no college degree. Even I worked out, with my lightning quick brain, that if I didn't want to earn minimum wage, I needed to get a *&^% degree. This is not brain surgery we're talking about here.

It's called night school. I tripled my salary in under two years. Amazing, isn't it?

But you have to put some work in yourself.

Posted by: Cass at March 31, 2008 06:44 PM

How dare you suggest he take personal responsiblity for his future! And to have the audacity to suggest that he actually attend classes in order to become knowledgeable on his hoped-for profession -- how bourgeios! Don't you understand the world owes him a livin'?

Posted by: DL-Sly at March 31, 2008 07:12 PM

It serves them all right; they have nobody (and I mean NOBODY) but themselves to blame. Every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost.

Posted by: John Galt at March 31, 2008 07:35 PM

He could get a pretty good job in about 10 minutes if he wanted to. It goes something like this:

Military Police = Go See County Sherrif

Posted by: Allen at March 31, 2008 07:35 PM

Try not to be an ass, Mark.

I am a civilian. If you have 10 years of experience doing *something*, who's fault is it if you don't have a resume?

HINT: your own. I was a housewife, also without a college education, but I hied my sorry ass down to the PUBLIC LIBRARY and took out books on... gee whiz! filling out a resume. And then I proceeded to do draft after draft on my home typewriter until I got something reasonable. The fedral gubmint didn't have to devote your tax dollars to taking my little hand in theirs and leading my by it to do what any moron ought to be able to figure out if he has the gumption God gave a billy goat (or my 18 year old son when he graduated high school).

2nd hint: if you have NO EXPERIENCE as a cartoonist, odds are you're going to have trouble being hired in immediately as.... A CARTOONIST. Is this the military's fault? Only if your name is Mark in Irvine.

Seems that all-importing Military Cartoonist MOS training that mean wrong/bad recruiter lied to that poor Sergeant about didn't exist.

Sheesh. Who knew?

*rolling eyes*

I can hardly wait until my husband gets out with nearly 30 years of experience and can claim he was "lied to" because he can't jump right into a completely unrelated field for which he has neither the training nor the experience... just like any civilian who is changing careers.

Duh. Of course he can leap right into a job similar to what he already has been trained to do. Kind of similar to my situation as a civilian employee.

Posted by: Waaaaahhhhh!!!!!! at March 31, 2008 07:49 PM

WHAT?!!? I was just being snarky! You were criticizing the guy!! Sheesh. And here I am, trying not to be an ass - I've converted to the religious right, the libertarian "every man for himself" party. Methinks Milady doth protest too much.

Posted by: John Galt at March 31, 2008 08:14 PM

"It serves them all right; they have nobody (and I mean NOBODY) but themselves to blame. Every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost."

It isn't about blame or 'every man for himself', but more about expectations. Does he want to be a cartoonist, then fine -- be one. But to make a living at it? Not many can do that. Those that do are especially lucky, stubborn and talented.

Can't do a resume? Sorry... but, it doesn't take a genius to create one. There are plenty of resources to assist you with that. And if you ask me, anything done for TEN YEARS has to be worth something. Granted, it may not get you a job as a CEO unless you have a specific skill set, but its a lot better than most people get starting out in the civilian workforce.

Lots of folks respect a military career. It is too bad he hasn't parlayed it into anything substantial for himself.

Posted by: Kevin L at March 31, 2008 08:16 PM

What Allen said... Then as Cass advised, go to school off shift, nights, online or whatever it takes to obtain said degree and VI_'OLA(southern pronunciation if you please) the young person can then expect to find their niche!

I have serious doubts that a fortuitous-fall-into-lap opportunity will present itself to the unprepared... Based upon nothing more than my observations over the years, it seems that 99% perspiration and 1% luck is the chemical composition of success.

Posted by: bthun at March 31, 2008 08:34 PM

I saw this story in Time (current issue - maybe last week's by now):

The Real Meaning of 4,000 Dead

It's part of a series by Lt Sean Walsh (West Point, Stryker platoon leader). The quote that got highlighted is:

"The number 4,000 is too great to grasp even for us that are here in Iraq."

For me, the number 3,000 - in one morning - is sorta hard to grasp, too, but I do, and I see what needs to be done.

Lt Walsh must not have read military history at West Point, else he'd know about the casualty figures for places like Guadalcanal and the Pacific Theater, about Europe, about places where we lost 4,000 in one day.

Posted by: ZZMike at March 31, 2008 09:11 PM

The religious right and libertarianism are not even close to being one and the same, and neither one happens to be what I believe anyway, Mark. It is mental laziness to equate them.

Granted, that sort of thing happens too often on the right too. But it's still a failure to think.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 31, 2008 10:24 PM

I'd like to be a writer too.

And I'm talented. And I could come up with a portfolio fairly easily. As it happens, I do this for a living, too, though not in the same way. But making a decent living doing freelance writing is not all that easy. It is not as lucrative as what I do, for instance.

We all have to live in the real world, even when that requires wearing our big girl and big boy panties.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 31, 2008 10:27 PM

"wearing our big girl and big boy panties."

LOL, it's called "grabbing leather" in part of my world. That's when you grab the saddle horn. It's not the way to go esthetically but recognized as reality when your horse is bucking.

Posted by: Allen at April 1, 2008 12:41 AM

only a high school diploma and nearly a decade of experience ... working as a military policeman.

Don't we still have, you know, policemen in the civilian sector?

Posted by: Daveg at April 1, 2008 09:21 AM

BWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Man, you should put a "Don't Spit On The Monitor" warning on this post! Geez Cassie!

Let's see, hmmmmm.


I turned that up so everyone could hear it! These guys were all tip of the spear combat guys. They have all taken jobs in fields from police work to FBI to security systems, etc., etc., etc., et al. Three have begun their own businesses. It's not rocket science to actually pursue a career you are suited for. If you care to change that career then seek the education required in your free time. It's called "scheduling". I bet if they even scratched their collective asses they might find they qualify for something called the G.I. Bill that would even pay for it! Will wonders never cease?

You should see the benefits package these guys pull down. Yeah, there are some hiccups that have to be dealt with but it didn't take two weeks for these guys to get on. Employers were standing in line to employ these guys as evidenced by the dozens and dozens of phone calls trying to recruit my son here at the house.

They were snapped up quicker'n woymn in the real world attacking the sale island of big gurl panties at Wally World! :-o

No resume? *sigh* Not even worthy of a comment!

Posted by: JHD at April 1, 2008 09:47 AM

"I'd like to be a writer too. And I'm talented."

You ARE a writer, and WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY talented. I always said that.

Posted by: John Galt at April 1, 2008 11:37 AM

At the risk of fielding great derision, I'm going to sympathize with those who don't have a good resume.

My husband, a 10-year veteran of the USMC, had a resume. But it sucked. He blamed everybody but himself for the lousy jobs he had after he got out of the Corps. When I met him, he was a custodian.

I looked at his resume, and it was chock full of military terminology, acronyms, and language that has no meaning in the civilian world. I badgered him for a couple of weeks, pen and pad in hand, while he explained to me what he did, and we translated that into corporate world language. It took him about three weeks to get a management job with that resume.

I think, in many cases, it's a matter of not knowing how to translate what you do and what you know and what responsibilities your rank has, into civilian language and job descriptions. If the military is all you've done, you might not even be aware that it doesn't make sense to the rest of us.

Posted by: April at April 1, 2008 12:58 PM

Hey, I totally agree April.

In a year or so, my husband will be getting out. And he will face precisely that problem.

But getting out is not a unique problem. Civilians change careers all the time. We all have to adapt. Industries change. Corporations downsize and people get riffed. If you want to stay competitive you have to be able to think on your feet.

I don't really understand where people get the idea that they can just jog in place and the world is supposed to accomodate them. That is nonsense.

After 18 years as a housewife, I fully understood that it was up to me to adjust to the working world, not the other way 'round. I had a 4.0 and quite a bit (actually) of work experience AND a good resume, but after months of looking I couldn't get hired either. I had no local references and didn't have the requisite 3-5 years of experience in my chosen new field. Often you have to take entry level jobs to break into a field, or be creative: offer to work for free for a while, maybe). I have done that.

You do what you have to do: you are a commodity and you are selling your skills to an employer. If you don't even try to figure out what THEY are buying, don't be surprised if you can't sell yourself to them. This guy, didn't.

Posted by: Cass at April 1, 2008 01:10 PM

Certainly, Cass, I agree with all of that. My point is mostly that I think a lot of people don't even KNOW that they don't make sense. :)

Of course, the other aspect of this story is that it was presented by the LA Times, and if they interviewed 20 veterans and one of them had a hard time finding a job, they'd take that one and imply that his situation is typical.

Still, for that one in 20, it might not be a bad idea to have exit career counselors like they do at colleges and universities to help translate that experience into civilian capabilities. Not everyone wants to be in law enforcement.

Posted by: April at April 1, 2008 01:17 PM

I keep chuckling about the cartoon "designer." Could they have chosen a more obscure aspiration than that??

Posted by: April at April 1, 2008 01:26 PM

The military *does* have career counselors, though.

That is what is so irritating about the LA Times article. We have that stuff up the ying-yang.

Posted by: Cass at April 1, 2008 01:29 PM

Ah, well, then! I didn't know.

Posted by: April at April 1, 2008 01:30 PM

Taking a WAG and going to Military.com I see that there is a tab at the top entitled, Careers. Under that tab are listed,

Veteran Job Board

Security Clearance Jobs

Targeted Job Searches

Military.com Career Fairs

Military Business Cards

Job Hunting Tips

Military Resume Writing Service

Veteran Business Center

Veteran Career Network

Transition Center

Military Transitions Blog

I would think that this might be a good start for any vet soon to be released/discharged/retired if only to add these resources to your inventory as you transition. And I would imagine that there are tens of thousands of folk in this country, not to mention business people, who would be willing and eager to help a vet make the transition.

After my crooked, old, fat, fingers punched in all of the above, I see where Milady says,

"The military *does* have career counselors, though."
so... ahhhh, never mind.

Posted by: bthun at April 1, 2008 01:40 PM

No derision April. The point of the LA Times article was that this interviewee didn't even HAVE a resume! Not that he couldn't write a good one but didn't even bother.

I know guys that didn't go into law enforcement. One became a financial planner after taking a minimum job allowing him to finish his education. One is flying UAVs as a contractor and making beaucoup dinero. One has his own home security business. One has his own pool service with 30+ employees. One is a very successful insurance salesman. One is an air traffic controller. Point is, not all the guys go into law enforcement or firefighting. There are so many options open if they want to get after it. A lot find law enforcement a good fit though and like what they're doing. This group that mustered out with my son just happen to really be good at law enforcement and like the lifestyle.

I was putting together Da Grunt's resume awhile back and it was pretty impressive when translated into the civilian world. Everything from flying UAVs in combat to communications to driving humvees to land navigation to armament to leadership capabilites to various languages to calling in air strikes understanding coordinates and not to mention all the MCI courses. All these things take skills that are wanted and needed in the private sector. Even combat Grunts have some serious practical experience if they know how to translate it. Point well taken!

Posted by: JHD at April 1, 2008 01:40 PM

He doubts he will ever find his ideal job as a cartoon designer, or any other worthwhile post.

Aaaand, on the flip side o' this deal, I know Recruiters who have given up visiting certain local High Schools because soon-to-be-graduating seniors are absolutely convinced they'll land six-figure jobs playing *sigh* professional beach volleyball.

Yeah, I thought they were kidding, too.

They weren't...

Posted by: BillT at April 5, 2008 12:07 PM