Sunday, March 18, 2007

As Detroit Goes, So Goes the USA

A gob of new surveys have been released into the ether.

Some findings:

47% of adult women living in the U.S.A. live from paycheck to paycheck (

Women, who are also more likely to live as single parents, earn about 77 cents to every $1 earned by their male counterparts in comparable jobs.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars will remain with us for the next generation or more. Approximately 690,000 veterans have already served, and 180,000 have filed claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA Report).

A recent analysis of 103,788 returning veterans treated at VA facilities concludes that 32,010 were diagnosed with mental health complications. Those that suffer the worst are the youngest -- the 18-to-24-year old group (Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 167, No. 5, March 12, 2007).

Many have multiple disorders (a median of three per veteran).

52% of veterans with complications suffer post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS).
24% have anxiety disorders.
24% have adjustment disorders.
20% suffer from depression.
20% have recognizable substance abuse problems.

Psyco-social disorders not covered above include growing cases of homelessness, marital/relationship problems and domestic violence.

For the past several years now, I've taught an increasing number of veterans and down-and-out people and can attest to the general truth of these findings. These particular students have a lot to write about, certainly, and through writing can articulate their experiences and states of mind. In many cases, writing is helpful in an informally therapeutic kind of way. But man, it's heartbreaking. The job scene and infrastructure in Michigan is dismal, and I've seen another estimate that indicates nearly ten percent of all Detroiters live in PTSS shock.

Unlike many, as a "bourgeois specialist" with easily transferable skills, I have the luxury to pull up stakes and move somewhere else -- indeed, almost anywhere else. But I love Detroit, and here I stay for now. Not Mother Teresa in Calcutta exactly, more an interested observer and usually engaged with what's going on because I have to be. And hey, if all else fails, I have experience working at Burger King.

Today's Rune: Harvest.

Birthdays: John Updike (b.1932), James McMurtry (b.1962), and my sister Vickie!



JR's Thumbprints said...

Oh, and don't forget those veterans that end up in prison for one reason or another. Coping skills must be hard to come by when a country turns its back on some of the health related claims.

Lana said...

Until recently I worked for the "largest woman-owned business in the US" (this, of course, was hawked everywhere they could post it--e-mails, etc.) I was one of 2 part buyers in the logistics department. When I learned that the other buyer (a man,) was making almost $3/hr more than I was, that about did it for me. The other buyer was a recent hire (I was w/the company for 2 years,) he did NOT move to Austin w/the company after Katrina (as I had,) & he still lives with his parents (where I have a mortgage to pay.) Another recent male hire was making just as much. The logic was that he was driving quite far to come to work. I got on Mapquest & learned that I was driving just as far.
That's not to mention, also, the sexual discrimination that took place every day--managers that blatantly insulted women on a daily basis (one surely believes that women should be at home, barefoot & pregnant.) My own manager used to use the security cameras in his office to ogle attractive applicants & also once said that "women should NEVER be managers."
As it turns out, the "woman-owned business" status was just to get nice, juicy grants from the gov't.
Needless to say, I now work elsewhere.

Charles Gramlich said...

Frightening statistics.

Johnny Yen said...

Great post-- particularly hit home for me. My brother, who's a year younger, suffers from PTSD, or PTSS, as apparently it's called now. As a young Marine (he'd just turned 21), he was in Beirut, Lebanon on October of 1983, when the barracks was blown up. He was not in them, but spent several days digging guys dead, dying and barely alive out of the building. He's never been the same. His wife divorced him, and he struggles to eak out a living as a contractor, unable to hold down jobs, despite being sent through college as part of his rehab.

He later served in the Gulf War (he also suffers from Gulf War Syndrome-- another claim the VA has refuted) and then served in Somalia and Haiti, before he was given a medical discharge.

He fought for several years with the VA-- he finally had to hire a lawyer-- they finally gave him 100% disability. He's paranoid, prone to violence and just difficult to be around. Expect to be seeing lots more like him in the next few years.

BTW, I realized that a sad milestone passed without notice. The US was officially involved in World War II from Dec. 7, 1941 to August 15, 1945-- just under four years. At four years, we've now been in this war longer than WWII.

lulu said...

I'm one of those adult women who lives paycheck to paycheck and I have a college degree and a decent job. I can't imagine what it would be like to be less employable.

t said...
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t said...

It's so touching to know how many people are living unhappily. When there are so many people like that in a society, it makes me worry who'll nurture them back to health. Usually you think it's the older people who do that in a society. I had my beloved psychologist. I'm glad you're there for your community in D-town. A friend of mine is moving out there soon, and he'll likewise "make someone happy", I'm sure.

Sometimes I worry about who'll be sane after war, after genocide, after those epidemics of misery that leave the adults dead or reeling.

Speaking of which, I've finally ordered two books that have been on my wishlist for years - Elfriede Jelinek's Lust and Women as Lovers. Second-hand from the excerpts and reviews, I believe depraved depression post-World War II is a theme of her writings, like in Wonderful, Wonderful Times. I've never read any of her work, though I watched The Piano Teacher, which was a bit too depravedly depressed for me.