Those of you who attended our house meetings heard a message from an Army reservist named Tiffany. (For those of you who did not make it to a meeting, you can listen to the recording here.) Tiffany is a lot like most of us. She's doing everything she is supposed to do, and then some. She's married, has two kids, has worked a long time in the same field, in her case, as an executive administrative assistant. With her fifteen years of experience, she knows how to do her job very well. Unlike most of us, Tiffany's gone above and beyond to serve her country, having signed on twice as an Army reservist and
deployed gone overseas multiple times with one longterm deployment.*
But Tiffany is still struggling, because she can't find steady work. There are a lot of people looking for a job in her field, and very few people hiring. And her distinction as a reservist, which should be a badge of honor, has turned instead into a black mark on her record. Legally, employers cannot consider her status as a reservist to either deny her a job or to let her go, but after being passed over multiple times, she had to start asking around whether or not this might be a problem. Her fears were confirmed by several friends at companies similar to the ones she had been applying to. (Reservists are experiencing a whopping 14% unemployment rate, well above the 9.2% national rate.)
For Tiffany, her own struggle has cast the nation's economic slump into high relief. She's done everything right, yet she's contemplating leaving her own well-paying field after building up years of experience and skills because she can't find work. She has met and read about others in her own situation, and thinking about the ever growing pressure of unemployment and underemployment has spurred her to get involved.
TIffany told me that she was incredibly inspired by the house meeting that she hosted last weekend. "The conversations were SO powerful," she said. "We really don't understand how much we all need each other until we talk to one another."
What Tiffany hopes for the future is that Rebuild the Dream keeps growing, that people across the country realize that we really need to make something happen in order to turn things around. She is continually shocked at how little politicians seem to care about how poorly regular people are doing in this country and hopes that politicians and regular people alike will wake up and realize that this is all about something "much bigger than me".
*Tiffany wrote to correct me on her deployment. She only deployed overseas once, although she did have to make several shorter trips overseas as part of her service.
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