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Jeff's Afghan Diary: Looking For Work
October 6, 2007

      Job hunting from a foreign country presents some challenges!

      While I was home on leave, I contacted the firm which had given me business as an independent agent.  The work was fairly lucrative, and I had become pretty good at delivering what they wanted.  There was a lot of travel involved, which was the biggest downside of the job, but I didn’t mind, although I missed being with my family during the week.  The money made the traveling worthwhile.

      When I called the company I had represented prior to being mobilized (a New Jersey firm), I found they had reorganized their business, and the contracting I had done for them in the past was no longer available.  Essentially, I was without a job.

      There are laws in the United States protecting the jobs of Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who are mobilized in times of war.  If I was a regular employee, those laws would require the company that hired me to reinstate me in the same or a similar position for the same or greater pay.  Unfortunately, as an independent agent, I was not an employee, and therefore do not receive the same legal protection.  As soon as I return home, I will be unemployed.

      While I was home, I attended a job fair in Chicago to see what kinds of jobs I might be qualified to fill.  I had 14 years of working at AT&T prior to being downsized, but the telecommunications industry has fewer jobs now, and most pay less than I was making.  So I am starting over again.

      While I was home, my wife and I discussed having to sell our house when I return.  We bought it over six years ago, and when we moved into it, my mother-in-law came to live with us as well (she had failing health at the time).  My mother-in-law passed away a couple years later, so the house we originally bought to accommodate all of us is a little larger than we require.  Moving to a smaller house will not be a hardship for my family; it will be more of an inconvenience.  In another year, our oldest son may be moving out as well, further reducing our need for a large house.  The problem is the housing market right now is not good, and getting another mortgage without having a job will be a problem as well, so we have some major hurdles facing us as soon as I get back.

      As far as job hunting, at the job fair I found plenty of employers, but they were all looking to hire someone right away, not next January.  Many were interested in hiring me, but they all told me to check back when I come home.

      Some companies take a long time to hire a new employee.  I waited for almost three months before I was hired at AT&T.  I figured that I should start looking now, in case a company wants me to wait for another three months before I start, because I will almost be home by then.  Federal jobs especially take a long time to fill.

      So in between planning missions and patrols and training Afghan Border Police, I am searching on-line for a job when I return.  This would be hard enough if I was back home, with high-speed Internet access and easy telephone access.  Over here, it’s much more difficult!  Our Internet is much slower, it’s difficult to upload resumes, and I don’t have a phone.  Often our e-mail system is down as well, so everything takes much longer as far as correspondence.  I have been tempted to put off even trying until we are done here.

      But I have responsibilities to my family back home, so I can’t put it off.  However much time I have over here for job hunting, I will have to make the most of it and try as best I can to look for employment.

      With all the other stuff on my plate, trying to stay safe and get our mission accomplished over here, this is just another situation to overcome.  I am reminded of the question, “How do you eat an elephant?”  The best answer is, “One bite at a time.”  I just have to chew carefully!

-- Jeff Courter

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Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.