I had posted this to my Facebook, back when I was still working as an Employment Recruiter for the State of New Mexico. I was hired under the ARRA, worked for the DOL, under the state’s umbrella. I’m hoping still I guess, that I can get it the attention it needs, and deserves.
**This is still in draft/editing phase**
I am a resident in a very small rural community in the United States, which is listed here in my profile. Tonight, Sir, I bring forth two very large issues that I am seeing here in my community, and in many others similar to mine. I am an ARRA/Employment Representative for the local One-Stop Workforce Connection in my community, whose population totals at just over 19,000, the majority of the residents being transients, since we are a college town. Today, I learned that the hospital here laid off a number of our local residents, because a company had bought out the management of a section of our hospital. In an area which has been plagued by layoffs ever since the job economy completely crashed, this may be more than we can take, and I’d like to ask you what you think I should do for my clients when they come in and file for Unemployment, in a system that clearly is not working for them, of which will be explained later. For now, I’d like to stick to the local hospital’s issue, and present to you the totality of what is going on, in the hope that maybe you can see one of the reasons why Health Reform will not work for communities like the one I work in, and work for.
The main issue, Mr. President, with the hospital layoff, is that it is proving more and more what most of your people are thinking, that being that medical, hospital, and prescription costs have more than become a major business. In this particular case, it is more than apparent that the reason the hospital took the course it did, was to be a money-maker, to engage in the world of “big business” for itself, rather than to serve with insuring the health of the people in our area. They are trying to cut costs, thereby increase profits, and are doing it in a very cold and “business like” way. Today, I had two people come in to file for Unemployment who were victims of this layoff, who had Bachelor’s degrees at the minimum, and who also specialized in their field. One of them had worked straight since he got out of college years ago. What I would like to see if it’s at all possible, is a cap on medical expenses. The big medical business needs to come down a few pegs, to say the least. Having read the Health Reform Act, I am highly disappointed that there is very little done in this area. Prescriptions are still running away with their costs (I myself am currently, even though I am on medical insurance, looking at a prescription that I can not afford to get with the co-pay that I have). Why in the world should a prescription cost sometimes up to $50 (and more!) just for a single pill, whether covered by medical insurance or not, thereby increasing the costs of my own co-pays (and that much more for those who can not afford medical insurance) so drastically? Why should I have to see people coming into my office to file for unemployment, because our hospital decided to get in on this “make more money than we’re worth” game? It’s inexcusable. It’s intolerable. And, it has already, and will, destroy our own local economy, and possibly quite a bit of those who live here, also. You see Mr. President, I care about the quality of life for those that I see every day. I care for every one of them, I bend over backwards to help them, but sometimes there isn’t anything that even I can do for them, and this is the most hurtful thing in the world to me, and to the residents here. I have, quite literally, burned myself out on at least attempting to help the people that I see, but in the end, I wonder if I’m doing any good, in a local economy that is already extremely depressed for jobs, and in many other ways as well. There are more days than not, that I literally do not want to go to work and face these clients who are so hard-hit over medical costs and now, layoffs in the medical industry here, because I can not accept that I can’t help them at this time, other than have these poor people file for Unemployment, and because I feel their pain. I’d like to know what sort of provisions you are making for medical costs which continue to skyrocket. Maybe you can afford these expenses, but we can’t, Mr. President. We just can’t. I am mentally and emotionally constantly burdened with this for the people here, and am very close in some cases to a sort of post-traumatic stress disorder from it, after having only worked this job for several months. For a town of just over 19,000, I shouldn’t be seeing this. There is no excuse for it. One would think that for a smaller town, it would be easy to try to spark some sort of economy, but there just isn’t here.
Now on to the other pressing matter, Mr. President. I am so very sorry to sound so sarcastic, and the tone of sarcasm is definitely not what I am trying to convey here, but I am wondering what is being done about bringing more jobs to rural small communities, who are being hit with layoffs continually, such as our community here. It appears (whether it is reality or not) that the only thing the people of my own community can do when they are laid off from Anywhere USA at this time, is file for Unemployment, where they sit throughout second and third tiers, because they can’t find a job. For these people, it means over two years of being on Unemployment. Now let me bring forth to you the reality of Unemployment in our state. Unemployment most generally is filed on a very poor website that doesn’t work, errors out, and causes other grief, at which point the clients are advised to call via phone to a call center which is plagued by a situation of being continually well under-staffed (and why is this, when jobs are needed so desperately at this time, is beyond most. It would seem that it would be quite easy to hire all that are needed and then some). The customer service at our call center is deplorable, where people call (who would have guessed at a call center) sometimes for up to over a week, just to be able to file their claims. Ninety percent of the calls were taken off the call center’s hands just about a month ago, when a new 1-877 phone number was issued for clients to be able to reset their pins to apply for unemployment. However, now the state of our own call center has become much worse, even with this huge load taken off of their hands. At this time, we are seeing social security number issues with the clients, we are seeing fraud claims being filed at our police department therefore, and people still are almost completely unable to get through to the call center (when they need to call) to file claims, discuss issues with their Unemployment, etc. Mr. President, this is inexcusable, in particular when it is known that the ARRA allotted monies to the states, to be able to improve conditions such as this. Monies were also allocated to the states to hire more Employment Representatives in the areas they were needed in throughout the United States. What good does the hiring of these people (such as myself) do, when there are no jobs (regardless of recruitment of new jobs in our database from people like myself in what little time we have to do it, which is fruitless for our office anyway, because I am a one-man band in a field office), there is no economy, there are no jobs, and there are deplorable phone conditions at the Unemployment call centers? I can commend you for trying here; however, employees such as myself who were hired under the ARRA are wondering, “Where are the jobs to refer people to?” I believe that on the federal level, there has to be some accounting from the states, to be sure that the stimulus monies they receive are managed correctly as well. We can’t keep saying, “here, have some money” without some accountability. In my state, it is so obvious that the funds are being mismanaged horribly, and can not believe that the conditions that this community face are what you had in mind during this economic crisis.
Sometimes in this small community, Mr. President, I see up to twenty people in one day. I would think that there is something that can be done to bring jobs to rural communities, so that I don’t have to wonder where the money from the ARRA is going to, other than this. I work for you, Mr. President. I work for the United States Department of Labor, for the State. I am asking you to at least attempt to give me something joyful to give to my clients, that being a job to apply for, not to have to hassle their already fragile minds from being laid off, with more torture through the Unemployment system here. My clients have been extremely hard-working through their lives; however for a lot of them, they literally live in third-world conditions, mostly due to lack of economy here.
I await some kind of response, from you, from the DCCC, or from anyone who can help our people here.
Thank you for listening.
Kimberly A. Garren, ARRA/Employment Representative
**My current issue, even more so than the editing, is getting people like the DCCC, Progress For a More Perfect Union, and Barack Obama to see this. It’s not allowing me to tag the note with them.**
I am finding it harder and harder to continue on #Twittermarch for the 99ers and unemployed. It’s hitting too close to home.
Since this, I was laid off from this job, and am seeking work. Very scary in this world as it is. The office has since closed down, so there is no one to service unemployed people in our community at all.
Please, let there be some light somewhere.