My unemployed brother

My brother is in his early twenties, a veteran of the Iraq war, and unemployed. When he was deployed in Iraq, we all hoped for his safe return. Despite my opposition to the confict, I, from one adult to another (albeit young) adult, respected his decision to join the military and go to Iraq. While he was deployed and my mom’s family would sharply criticise his decision, dismissing him and being ‘brainwashed’ ‘naive’ etc I actually treated him as an adult and believed no matter what life decision he made he deserved to have someone advocate that he was mature and cognizant enough to decide it on himself, and deal with the consequences if it did not go well.

When he returned he worked as Honor Guard for a time. During the start of the recession, he got sick of it and up and quit. He has not been employed since. Currently he is living off VA benefits. Lately, he has become more and more supportive of conservative measures, such as the recent immigration bill in Arizona. He, and a few of his disgruntled friends have been trying to claim that the reason unemployment is so high for returning Veterans is because of illegal immigration :dubious: and lately has been using Facebook as his sounding board.

My girlfriend initially really liked my brother, and was happy to friend him on facebook. However, when the immigration debate came up, my girlfriend (A social worker, parents are immigrants) understandably had a very personal opinion about the matter, and knew first-hand what its like being an illegal immigrant in the US, since many of her own family were. She didn’t mind that he had his own opinions, but he definitely soured things with her when he claimed that being sympathetic to immigrants was somehow un-patriotic.

Ironically, nowhere since quitting his last job has he even mentioned going to school, looking for a job, nothing. Its just been blaming other people. I guess I’m rather floored- the whole selling point of joining the military is to make you a better person, not widen that chip on your shoulder. :frowning:

Incubus, that sounds exactly like my brother, except that he’s in the National Guard. Went to Kuwait/Iraq for a year tour, came back around eighteen months ago, and is just living off of unemployment. Besides going to the bi-weekly training or whatever required, he doesn’t do anything else. No desire to go to school, look into a trade, or even find a job.
His logic is that he can make more money on unemployment than working full time for minimum wage. And honestly, he’s right. It’s kind of disgusting to me and it’s probably a huge factor as to why so many people here are on unemployment, no incentive to get off of it. He thinks it’s hilarious that he earns more money sitting on his ass all day than I do at my job as a college graduate. :frowning:
He’s very conservative republican and heavily religious. I don’t know when he became like this, he always keeps it hidden and mocks different thinkers behind their backs. He’s been offered plenty of help, support, and encouragement to go back to school but he seems content to just sit at home, drink, and play video games. He lost his car and license due to DUIs but doesn’t think he has a problem. Like your brother, he is never at fault- he blames everything on other people.
I don’t know if he’ll ever change. I thought he’d finally change at every milestone: After getting into college (he dropped out to go active), after boot camp, after his Iraq tour…Nope. He’s still the same, just laying around until he gets deployed again. I’ve lost hope that my brother will change, I hope yours is different but they really do sound like two peas in a pod.

Wow, nikonikosuru that is creepily similar! My brother is ALSO in the National Guard. The Honor Guard was a pretty good gig for him- he was making more money than me and initially things were looking pretty bright. He had that job, and was living in a 2-bedroom brand-new apartment in an inexpensive part of California.

But it went downhill. I guess he found out many of his army buddies went straight to unemployment when they got back, and he felt like he was working for nothing. At first I was okay with this, because, hey, what he had to go through in Iraq WAS terrible (everybody got a sanitized version of his experience, then one night he got very drunk and told me the actual truth in painful detail. Let’s just say it made Heart of Darkness seem like a children’s novel in comparison :frowning: ). I did sympathize that he had to deal with a lot of stuff I probably never will, and the only thing I really insisted he do with his life is use the VA’s resources to help with issues that he was going through.

If PTSD was the cause of his unemployment, I think he would be sitting on that high horse. He seems to take joy in blaming the least fortunate/privleged, even though he has tons of resources he can use. When he came back the city of Vallejo held a parade for his unit, and I wonder if he kind of got a little high on the ‘returning hero’ status. Now that its faded and he has to face reality, particularly one amidst a recession (I myself was almost laid off) its a different story.

My brother got a scholarship through the National Guard to pay for his college. He did great the first semester, all As and holding down a job at the college, but the second semester rolled around and he decided that he didn’t feel like going anymore since my family “forced” him to go. So instead of being smart and withdrawing, he just decided to not go to class and not tell anyone. He got all Es which voided his scholarship and boot! Off to active duty he went. He didn’t really care since that’s what he wanted all along.
He’s a decent soldier I guess, does what is asked of him and is a marksman grenadier and expert sharpshooter, but after all these years he’s still a private. It’s like he has no motivation to go any higher in the ranks or to do anything else except grunt work. His friends and he take PRIDE in being the grunts, apparently all the other people who earn more money and don’t get shot at on an everyday basis are the dumb ones because they aren’t as hardcore. :rolleyes:
Like many army boys who fall into too much money and don’t know what to do with it, he blew it on dumb things. He also put my leech of a mom on his bank account and then acts surprised when all his money is gone, yet won’t take her name off the account. :smack:
It sounds like he had a fair enough time over there. But listening to the ignorance that drips from his friends’ and his mouth gets annoying. They’re a bunch of kids who parrot what they hear and anyone with a different view is just flat out wrong. It gets old hanging around him after a while. He seems to be looking forward to going back in the sandbox next April, though. Of course, this gives him yet another reason why he shouldn’t bother looking for a job.

Military life is very regimented. They tell you pretty much everything from when to wake up to when to go to sleep.

It is often problematic for people upon release, 'cause they now face the prospect of having to make up their own minds. For most of us this doesn’t seem an issue, but think about it.

If you’re told everything, the first instinct becomes, “LISTEN FIRST…Think second.”

I wouldn’t say this is at all unusual, there are military programs aimed at helping veterans to return to the normalcy of every day life.

Some of this sounds like depression. What does he say when you try to talk to him about drawing on VA resources?

Some of this sounds like behavior he’s learned from his family (not you, Incubus). If what he hears is that he’s not capable of making responsible decisions for himself, he’s liable to internalize that, by making bad decisions and not taking responsibility for them.

I know a lot of vets. I don’t know any who went in as quality people and came out useless. I do know a few who went in useless and morphed into productive members of society.

The military doesn’t take shiftless layabouts and transform them into self-starting, highly-motivated models of society. However, such people can be put to good use in the military system and still remain useless upon release into the general population. When a leech enters and then leaves military life, that’s usually the biggest thing they’ve ever done in their life. I think it’s hard for any family to accept they have produced a leech, so it’s easy to lay at least some of the blame on the military for what their family member has become. But I think the reality is usually that the leech was always a leech. He joined up because there isn’t much to the interview process apart from being able to fog a mirror, it’s relatively difficult to get fired, and your room and board are free if you remain unmarried. Perfect for leeches. Apart from the dangerous bits.

I’ve seen some of that same behavior from people who have been nowhere near the military.

He could have requested to go fron NG to Active duty. Hell, thats what I did, though it was two decades ago. Nowadays its probably a bit easier to go to school (online course and stuff) on active duty and he’d be able to do it on his own time. Of course, I would expect that he would know this, but hey, maybe not.

Does he realize theres a Retention Control Point system? You can only stay a private for so long before they have to boot you out if you don’t advance. He might make it to E-4 but to make E-5 (buck sergeant) will require some effort. I’ve not seen the bullet or accident that chooses rank and I’ve seen people that are computer technicians that are are seriously hardcore soldiers. He and his friends are fooling themselves.

This confuses me…is he on active duty or still in the NG? Because if he wants to do the soldier thing and he’s not active he may as well go active from what you say. I’m not bashing you or him, I’m just asking.

Sorry Jolly, I’m still confused about the whole thing, too. I know next to nothing about the differences between the National Guard and army, and he always talks about going active duty something or other.
To me it sounds like he’s waiting to deploy with his battalion/unit (like I mentioned, I know very little about the terms.) I’ll have to ask if he’s still the bottom rung private or if he’s been promoted at all any. He talks about doing the next year, then voluntarily re-enlisting for another year while he’s already out there so he can get a tax-free bonus.

Nutshell version: National Guard: They go to regular army basic training and AITs, but are funded by whatever state they are from. They are basically the state’s militia. While on drills or deploym,ents they are paid like the regular army though they are some differences in benefits, etc. All of which I don’t know the details of. The Guard is a “part” of the army but the states governer can deploy them for emergencies.

Promotions probably work differently in the guard also, due to available slots or positions. In the active duty army you can’t last too long if you remain a private. I think an E4 currently can only remain on active duty for 8 to 10 year max (probably shorter, like 6 to 8, but I’m feeling too lazy to look it up) before getting promoted. I don’t know how the NG does it, though.

I decided to go active and leave my NG unit because of a few things. But one of them was that they were basically an excuse for a buncha gold old boys to play army for a weekend a month. I won’t say thats true of all NG units, but thats how I felt about mine. We had a few senior NCOs that were retired from regular duty that took stuff seriously, but the lower ranks? (which I was part of at the time) They treated it all like a chance to be Rambo for 2 days out of 30 and then go back to their regular lives.

Fah…I know it sounds like I’m slamming the guard and I don’t mean to. But if your brother is serious about being “hardcore” he should probably look into going active. He might be happier. I’m at the tail end of my army career, and will retire soon…(remember the retention stuff I mentioned? If I don’t get promoted I HAVE to go by 2013. I’ll probably be promoted by then, but I’ll also have most likely begun the retirement process. After 21 years I am tired as hell) Still, if your bro likes it and feels its the way he can make the best living, why not? I’ve had a good career except for some bad spots coughrecruiting cough and have a decent resume and the background to get a government civilian job.

Whatever he choses I wish him wll. I’m no longer a recriuiter, but if he is interested in I suggest he look up his local regular army recruiter and talk to him.