Overheard on CNN.com: Job offers, letters of support pour in for unemployed father
David Watson of Sanford, Florida, has been unemployed for more than a year. Many readers, touched, offered to help.
June 15th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Job offers, letters of support pour in for unemployed father

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Father's Day is Sunday, so it's fitting that we've got a touching story to conclude CNN's week of in-depth coverage looking at unemployment in the United States.

CNN photographer John Couwels chronicled a day in the life of former Marine and father David Watson to show how everyday life has changed for families coping with long-term unemployment.

Many of our readers saw the photo gallery and felt compelled to reach out to CNN. They asked how they could help Watson and his 14-year-old son, Timothy. So far, 50 people have offered assistance. Watson said he's been deeply affected.

"I have been offered job hunters, places for Tim and I to live, possible job offers, prayers, offers to pay for Tim's hockey, people saying, 'Don't sell anything else, let us know what you need,'" Watson said.

One representative from a major U.S. company reached out to Watson and asked for his resume. Watson's service in the Marines had gotten his attention.

"I caught the CNN article and wanted to hunt you down," the recruiter wrote Watson. "I’m an ex-Navy guy that likes to hire, or help hire, Marines."

While thinking about all the response he's gotten, Watson struggled for words to describe his emotions.

"Webster needs to come up with a word to define the feeling," he said. "To say that I'm taken aback, overwhelmed, inspired, excited, scared, overjoyed, enthusiastic or just flat out blown away by all of this ... is only an understatement. I cannot describe it."

Indeed, with many Americans struggling to get by in a tough economy, many of the stories this week got an outpouring of reaction from readers. Michael Dixon of Seattle is living rent-free with a friend while battling unemployment that began last September, and iReporter Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, has struggled since being laid off in August 2011.

Unemployment takes tough mental toll

Several CNN.com readers could relate, and left powerful comments. If the economy is creating challenges for you, we'd like to hear how you're coping. Share your story on CNN iReport. A few people referenced Walsh taking items off her resume because she'd been advised she might be written off as "overqualified."

telman: "I find myself unemployed and have given up looking for work because I am 60 and no one wants to hire a guy my age. I worked for 38 years for a company that promised health care and a nice retirement. All I received is a boot out the door."

Lisa Walter: "Same with my hubby; he's been looking for six months and he's 55. No one will even give him a chance and he's a veteran, too. They all say he's 'overqualified.' Well, DUH!!!!! So he's decided to use the time to get his CPA. Praying this will help him be successful."

The numbers on unemployment can be deceptive; the 8.1% figure doesn't include people who haven't been looking for a job recently, and likely will drop this summer because federal extended unemployment benefits are running out for an additional 115,000 people.

This reader was exhausted with political discussions while she worries about her mortgage.

celtcmama: "As someone who is educated and unemployed for the first time since I was 12, I can say I am sick of everyone pointing fingers. Oh it's the Democrats' fault, oh it's the Republicans' fault. Face it, neither party is doing a single thing to help anyone but themselves. They spend so much time stomping around and shouting out rhetoric at each other they never notice that crunching sound they hear is the bones of the people under their feet. I'm not lazy. I saved money, I bought a reasonably priced home, I drive a used car that's fully paid for. I don't have a flat-screen TV or a fancy phone. I'm the middle class. I look and look for a job ANYWHERE that can actually cover my child care and mortgage. My husband's company just laid off 200 people. He could lose his job any day. If I can't find one soon the house will go to the bank. If my husband loses his job I guess the child care issue will be moot. I'll be free to work at Dairy Queen. Yippee."

Starting anew - and starting a business - is what one reader says helped him get out of more than two years of unemployment. He offered some advice to job seekers who aren't succeeding.

Jasper Eliot: "There are actually plenty of jobs out there, but the problem is there's a serious mismatch between what's available and the skill sets of the unemployed. The way I escaped from 2.5 years unemployment was to employ myself (starting my own business) and then realign my skills to meet the demands of opportunities in the market. My advice to the long-term unemployed would be this: No. 1: Accept that the market has forever changed and it's not coming back ... at least, not the way it was. You will absolutely need to realign yourself. No. 2: If you've been looking for work in the same way using the same methods and the same networking channels for over a year and you're still unemployed, congratulations!! You know exactly what DOESN'T work. Now, stop doing that and try something completely different. No. 3: Go to the job boards and look at the types of jobs available. Do you see any alignment? Is there anything somewhat related between your past experiences and the opportunities available?"

As for the emotional aspects, one person noted that a job can't define a person.

Bonvivant251: "My heart goes out to anybody who has fallen victim to a system that equates self-worth with a paycheck, which is the crux of a modern wage-based society and, as pointed out in the article, hits men more than women because in our society - even in 2012 - a woman can fall back on her children as a reason for being, but an unemployed father does not have that same flexibility. The only solution is to gain your sense of self-worth from something other than a job or financial status. Cultivate a true sense of self-worth and self-love. This will get you through the good times and the bad. Kipling said, 'If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same ... yours is the Earth and everything that's in it.' The only way to do this is through a true self-love. I would suggest meditation and Buddhism. They truly do help. Take care of yourselves."

What's your take on the economy? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or share your views about coping with the economy via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. dannyboy

    I share in John’s opinion. It does appear that the gents military status is the reason that he was showcased. No mention of how or why he lost his job. No mention of any disability or sickness. He has two properties being foreclosed on. He is in the middle of a bitter divorce-custody battle, this can’t be cheap or free. You would think that hockey equipment would be low on the priority list. Sorry, I’m not feeling the struggle here. It’s hard to believe that there wasn’t a more deserving, unfortunate soul in the unemployment line.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kathleen31

    My post was deleted but it seems that there are a few here that have seen through the smoke and mirrors anyway. Thank you John Sanford and dannyboy.

    June 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Wilson

    I work part-time at a college. One semester I was not reappointed due to "lack of funds" and I sent out about a score of resumes. No job offers, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my application ! Fortunantly, I was re-appointed the next semester and have been so ever since -19 years !

    July 2, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
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