Other than his wife's parents, Carl had no family nearby, only a handful of friends and virtually no one who could relate to his experience.
Carl’s doctor diagnosed him with PTSD and advised him to get on with his life. Just back from Iraq, Carl was desperate to return to the normalcy of civilian life. He relished his role as a father and husband, and more than anything else wanted to make his in-laws and wife proud by being a good provider.
When the temp agency called Carl with an offer, he jumped at the chance. Carl’s son, Jaime, was almost a year old and he and his wife were living with her parents so his wife could pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. Life seemed good. Carl had only been at his warehouse job for a month when the harassment began. For nearly six months, Carl’s supervisor berated him and threatened to fire him, saying he believed Carl thought he was better than everyone else because he was an ex-Marine. Carl felt ashamed and humiliated, thinking that maybe he wasn’t tough enough to handle it. So he kept his head low and endured it.
When Carl’s supervisor bragged that he had guns at home and knew how to use them, Carl’s nightmares came flooding back, filled with the memories and images of the war.
Carl had had enough and walked out. He pleaded with the temp agency to reassign him to a different supervisor, or even to a different employer, but they had nothing to offer. He was devastated. He could barely afford to provide his family with the basics- buying diapers and clothes for their growing son seemed like a splurge. His wife had her hands full as a full-time nursing student and caring for their toddler. Hoping to minimize the stress until he found a job, Carl applied for unemployment insurance.
The temp agency denied Carl’s application, saying he had abandoned his job without good cause.
Carl continued to job search but with no money coming in, the bills began to pile up. Among other things, he feared they would no longer be able to afford his wife’s tuition payments. Carl decided he had to appeal the decision. Little did he know he would have to wait four months from the time he applied for benefits until his unemployment hearing date.
Carl and his wife were forced to spend down what little they had in their savings, money that had been set aside to buy their first home.
They relied on credit cards to make ends meet, but then defaulted on the payments because they had no income. The downward spiral began.Like many vets trying to assimilate without the proper services, Carl’s relationships suffered. His family knew he had changed but didn’t know how to help. Losing his job made Carl feel emasculated, exacerbating his PTSD so that he finally sought help from a mental health counselor.
What Carl wanted most of all- to provide for his family so they could be proud of him- was slipping beyond his grasp.
Carl’s counselor suggested he contact MetroWest Legal Services. A MetroWest Legal Services’ attorney listened with empathy to Carl’s story. She reassured him that he had a good chance of getting the appeal decision overturned. When she represented him at the appeal hearing, the review examiner found in Carl’s favor and overturned the denial. The next day the court awarded Carl almost $7,000 in retroactive unemployment benefits.
After four long months of waiting, Carl began receiving $500 a week in ongoing benefits.
Carl used the money to pay down his debts and support his family while he continued to search for work. In a stroke of good luck, a few weeks after the hearing Carl was finally hired for a full-time position.
“I was trying to do everything right to support my family, and then my whole life got turned upside down. Getting denied unemployment felt like a slap in the face. It was as though they were saying everything I went through wasn’t good enough to deserve benefits. Having representation from MetroWest Legal Services was life-saving." Carl, MWLS client & former US Marine