Wednesday, April 14, 2010

731. A Beautiful Passing (Profile and Biography Workshop Assignment)

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All content ©Dario DiBattista 2010. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

730. Who Among Us is Well?

I wonder who among the thousands of men and women I’ve served with as brothers and sisters in combat is doing well today.

Did the PFC I served with in Kuwait, who used to have manic anxiety in our underground bunker during SCUD attacks, return home as a happy woman? Does she think about the time where we sang “Lean on Me” in our bunker after the surprise missile attack that started the war? Does she have kids and a job? Can her significant other understand why she sometimes can’t sleep (the missiles always came at night)?

Has my red-headed brother (I call him that because we looked so alike back then that this is how people referred to us, as “brothers”) had his hearing repaired from the explosion? Is there a ringing still that tortures him? I wonder if he can have his brain scraped of the images of the dead bodies he processed during his second tour as mortuary affairs.

I saw my senior drill instructor from boot camp on the Syrian border area of Iraq. He was in charge of a logistics convoy where two Marines had just died. Have you ever seen the broken face of the man who taught you how to be hard? Does this gunnery sergeant still wear that vacant look in dark rooms at the end of the day? Does he wear it over an open bottle in a bar?

I served with one of my best friends from youth in Iraq. I have a photo of the first time we encountered each other overseas: a polaroid of him chewing dip and half-smiling on a guard tower. That tower is destroyed now; three vehicle-borne suicide bombers made sure of that one year after our tour had ended. I have not seen my friend in over five years. When we saw each other then, all he saw was Iraq. I don’t like to think about him anymore. It’s easier for me to just think he’s gone.

Who among us is well?

How can we get back to the place before?

People tell me that they think I’m fine. But how can they really tell?

There are secret burdens that you will never see.

Who among us is well?

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2010. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Monday, April 5, 2010

729. Ha Ha, Sweet, I've Been Quoted by the Associated Press

Young war veterans returning home to unemployment

By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP) – Mar 12, 2010

WASHINGTON — The unemployment rate last year for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans hit 21.1 percent, the Labor Department said Friday, reflecting a tough obstacle combat veterans face as they make the transition home from war.

The number was well above the 16.6 percent jobless rate for non-veterans of the same ages, 18 to 24.

As of last year, 1.9 million veterans had deployed for the wars since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Some have struggled with mental health problems, addictions, and homelessness as they return home. Difficulty finding work can make the adjustment that much harder.

The just-released rate for young veterans was significantly higher than the unemployment rate of young veterans in that age group of 14.1 percent in 2008.

Many of the unemployed are members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed multiple times, said Joseph Sharpe, director of the economic division at the American Legion. Sharpe said some come home to find their jobs have been eliminated because the company has downsized. Other companies may not want to hire someone who could deploy again or will have medical appointments because of war-related health problems, he said.

"It's a horrible environment because if you're a Reservist and you're being deployed two or three times in a five-year period, you know you're less competitive," Sharpe said. "Many companies that are already hurting are reluctant to hire you and time kind of moves on once you're deployed."

One veteran looking for work is Dario DiBattista, 26, of Abingdon, Md., a graduate student who did two tours in Iraq in the Marine Reserves with a civil affairs unit. He said he's found that a lot of military skills don't readily transfer into the workplace, and in many cases, there aren't jobs to apply for even if companies want to hire veterans.

"If you don't have a strong family support system ... it's hard to get over the hump to make the decision of where you're going to live, what you do for work, where you're going to go to school, if you can even qualify to get into school," DiBattista said.

For veterans of all ages from the recent wars, the unemployment rate in 2009 was 10.2 percent. Historically, younger veterans have had more difficulty than their older counterparts finding a job because they often have less training and job experience. Some joined the military right out of high school.

One possible solution is to make it easier for veterans to transfer certifications they have for jobs they did in the military into the civilian workforce, Sharpe said.

The Labor and Veterans Affairs departments have a variety of programs addressing the problem. The hope is that one program, the Post-9/11 GI Bill rolled out last year, will be particularly effective. Under it, $78 billion is expected to be paid out in education benefits over the next decade for veterans of the recent wars to attend school.

The national unemployment rate last year was 9.3 percent, the highest since 1983.

Source: The internet, lol. Seriously, this story went everywhere.

728. Checking Out (First Person Narrative Poetry Assignment)

This will be available to own for free on soon. Thank you for your patience.



All content ©Dario DiBattista 2010. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.