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. monkeyjunction

    At 55 I lost my $125M job when the company I worked for went bankrupt because of the economy. I searched for 2 years for a job. No luck..."overqualified and over aged." ^ suffered from depression and started drinking. I eventually lost my home, my savings, three cars and my wife of 30 years. After spending 10 months in a psychiatric hospital I was realeased but homeless. I eventually applied for and received disability benefits. Now a share a trailer with a lady I met in the woods. Oh yeah, I also found Jesus! Funny how that works. I'm actually happier now than I've ever been in my life so please don't feel sorry for me. I just wanted to offer a diifferent viewpoint of how the economy and the government affect our lives.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • davy

      125M ?

      June 19, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • walt1948

      You didn't make that much Silly! who are you really attempting to impress. Get off your DOPE,Dope! lol

      June 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • acajunthatsagun

      It's a shame you didn't loose your job sooner.

      June 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      You sane and are you physically able to work? Plenty of jobs in Alaska, whats your desire or qualifications. Your a victim, self made victim.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    There were more responses last night, congratulating monkeyjunction. Why delete them? His story is just as important as the dud in the article. Are you not interested in real-life experiences unless you guys post it? No respect at all for mj's experience. Whatta cold bunch you are, mods.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    The dude in the article, meant to say.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • John Sanford

      In my opinion, the featured article is a poor representation of a day in the life of an honest, hard working unemployed american that can't get a break. It's one thing to lose your job to the economy but, quitting your job is another story altogether... especially when you have a family to feed. And then using the "ex-marine" card to solicit handouts and sympathy! There are a ton of job opps in the Sanford-Orlando, FLA area... BUT YOU HAVE TO WANT TO WORK! Flip burgers or work for Disney for heaven's sake.. you'll feel better about yourself, and you'll also be sending a positive message to your children. Now, what number do the rest of the needy folk call to get access to some of the goodwill that is pouring in as a result of this story? Maybe next time CNN can do a piece on someone like MJ...it would be a little closer to the mark. Love your success story MJ... Live, Love and stay happy!

      June 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    I see they deleted my kudos to monkeyjunction.
    I will repeat it.
    You're a success story, monkeyjunction.
    May you stay as happy as you are right now.
    Bless you.

    June 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. fernace

    They deleted my heartfelt post as well! How mean! Monkejunction has found the key to a happy life, not in millions of dollars, but in the simple pleasures of life! I encourage him to spread his message & CNN said they would help him do that, in the above article!!

    June 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. monkeyjunction

    Thanks to everone for their support. My faith in human goodness never ceases, even in an imperfect world. Take care each other the best we can. That's all we can do.

    June 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Pepperoni?

    June 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. monkeyjunction

    Ok, that last post was not mine, although I DO like pizza. Why do people do that?

    June 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. monkeyjunction

    @little mister? I guess you're harmless...so have fun. BTW, I actually live in a place called Monkey Junction...just outside of Wilmington, NC.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dazzle ©

    @monkeyjunction, I applaud you and the tenacity of your spirit. Keep the faith and good atti tude and you will succeed. At the end of our lives, most don't want to be remembered for their bank balance or being defined by a job ti tle. Most want to be remembered for the good they brought to the world. You are a success in my eyes. God Bless!

    June 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrissyjon

    If the government would live on miminum wage for 90 days, just one person and let them see how it really feels maybe it would just take that one. Pray and hope, but we all know it would be a mighty mighty slim chance it would happen. But God works in myersterious way.

    June 18, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shirley

    I am a 65 year old women that has been unemployed for two years now. I worked for a Company in Irvine California for 33 years dedicated to it ,and one day I get a telephone call from HR, sorry we are cutting back ,I lost my Medical Insurance,life Insurance ,Pension . my 401k I had to claim unemployment the first time in my life,I looked for work . I have great experiance, but its the age factor they want young people not me . Now I have lost my Unemployment California cut us off nice .I am not looking for a hand out never have and never will just honest work of and honest dollar .

    June 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. alex

    What I see is a lot of, 'its my first time being fired and my first time going for unemployment', what this eqates to is now all of you who fired me so your family member could have my job or did not hire me cause I wasn't the right fit are getting your just deserves! yeah deserves! Where I work now has more nepotism running though it than blook thru a vein and if not for the union, again i be in the umemployment line, which I am well familar with or know what is like to get that eviction notice, so now its time for you all to stop seperating yourselves from the group and stand together to demand our ALL jobs back! I refuse to buy anything if I can help it, thats not American made but lately politicians are only making diabetics, WELFARE RECIPIENTS and cancer patients and denying us healthcare. People are caught up in the rhetoric and blame game but its our fault for sitting on our backsides thinking, 'that doesnt' apply to me', well it does so do something about it besides blaming Obama, start locally and move it up with your vote and your demands.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Stephen A Miller

    in feb 2006 i was diagnosed with prostate cancer went thru an operation dialysis lose of wife job amassed credit card debt decided to go to Paraguay south america to do missions work while recovering. after recovered every 2 years came back to the USA to search for work and a place to live. since i have a medical history and an age of 68 no job no chance to return to live in my own country i would love to have an opertunity to ,come home to gainesville fl or any place in the south east. i now have a wife and daughter here which makes it a little more complicated my goal was to arrive in the US get a job a place to live and bring my family to the USA. i may have to live here for awhile thanks to the conomy and age discrimination etc

    June 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steven

    This man was approached thru the state unemployment office because he met the criteria that CNN was looking for. Unemployeed for long term and middle aged. Over qualified and middle aged is what many americans have fallen victim to in these harsh economic times. The reality is that even though there may be some jobs out there, the likelyhood of being hired for far less than your previous job history is a very tuff find. It is a gamble that many employers would not take. Employers are looking for long term employees, not people who are looking to fill in the gaps until something better comes along for the employees future, leaving the employer high and dry. New hires for companies are not cheap to say the least. Many middle agedAmericans have been caught in this cycle and many have given up. The best thing to do is never stop trying. Fill in your employment gap by volunteering some of your time and remain stedfast and true to your job searches and try to continue your education. I would hope that any or all in this situation would try whatever means they have available to them. Such things as networking with all the people you know, job boards and postings, hit everything possible, and do not quit. You will find your job, in time.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
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