Tuesday, May 03, 2005

throwing stones in glass houses

my computer is so....... . . . . s l o w

It's dial up, of course. Except when I'm at work. Then I can blog with ease at the speed of light.

I participated as a vendor at a Job Fair for veterans last week. The Job Fair was set up by Veteran Representatives, Vocational and Services counselors, and organized with the state's employment department and various other splinter groups to make civilian life transition as easy as possible. Many veterans showed up well dressed, armed with resumes and gift bags of the free loot all the vendors give away. I was giving these cool looking but actually lame pens, but other booths were giving away stress squeezie things and food and candy. Many pencils and pens, of course and mini useless stacks of post-its in a myriad of colors and emblazoned with company logos. The coordinators treat the vendors like rock stars, we usually have a V.I.P. area with great food and beverage selections to snack on, away from the mobs of unemployed people with unrelated skills trying to market themselves simotaneously.

Some of the vets weren't job ready, that's for sure. A very quiet and strange guy was looking at some material about a training course we were offering, and nervously looking around. I approached him and introduced myself and asked him if I can help him with anything or does he have any questions. He replied by telling me that he doesn't really know what he wants.

His name was Frederick, not Fred or Freddie. He had just come back from IRAQ about a month ago, after serving there for 2 years, after being home for a 45 day break from Afghanistan for 1 year. He definitely had PTSD, and was starting to get jumpy as the masses of eager job seekers gathering around him (the booth next to me was giving out brownies! and they were warm, too, although I suspect microwave activity). I invited him to stand on the inside of the booth towards the corner because it is against a wall and a good vantage point to see the rest of the auditorium in the sea of pathways and vendors. He stood over against the wall for about a 1/2 hour, talking to me while viewing the room around him, rarely making eye contact.

Frederick told me many things, that he was feeling bad, his girlfriend didn't understand and thinks he is selfish, his friends don't want to talk to him anymore. I asked him if he was seeing a counselor and he said the counselor said, "Get over it, don't kill yourself and don't kill your family."

He was a medic on a helicopter transport. He also told me that there were people in IRAQ who hated the Americans, and would mob the helicopter before it could take off again, thrusting wrapped babies at them. After the other medics received one of the babies, it turned out to be a fake, and really a IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Frederick had seen his friends die, and tried everything he could and was unable to save them.

Frederick also said that as he drives around town, now that he is home again, he finds that if he turns down a residential street, and there are no kids playing in the street or no people outside doing things, he feels it is an ambush, and backs out of the area immediately.

He told me a lot of stuff, then a quickly as he appeared, he took off again, without so much as a goodbye. I noticed him across the auditorium talking to the state corrections department, then to a power company, then he was gone.

While he was milling around, my co-worker and buddy D came by, and I told him about Frederick. D is in the military, too, and served in IRAQ last year. Later, D told me he talked to Frederick, and gave him the number of an excellent counselor that D goes to for military related stress.

I can't stop thinking about that. I thanked Frederick for his service, and offered as much consolation as I could. I felt bad for him because he seemed like a brainwashed person that is realizing that something is not right, but not sure what and really angry.

...and now for something completely different:

Recent music recommendations:

Beck's new album, "Guerro" is awesome. 5 stars
Queens of the Stone Age's new album "Lullabies to Paralyze" is very rocking and awesome to play loudly while driving through the shopping mall district.

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