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thedrifter
02-26-09, 08:16 AM
Ex-Marine Finds Difficulty Collecting Unemployment

POSTED: 5:28 pm PST February 25, 2009
UPDATED: 6:19 pm PST February 25, 2009

SAN DIEGO -- Steve Farrier and his roommate, Manuel Vasquez, are both unemployed with two completely different stories when it comes to being without a job.

Farrier is a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, twice deployed to Iraq with a tank battalion. His first deployment came in 2005, in Fallujah.

Farrier came home from his second deployment this year and left the Marines after six years.

"I come home and the economy is in shambles, and I'm an electrician. Construction is real low, a large majority of people are laid off and can't find work," said Farrier.

He filed for unemployment and received a letter that said his benefits would start January 11. But to date he has received nothing.

"This will be my third month with no pay. Everything from my deployment is gone," said Farrier.

In contrast, Vasquez lost his job as a painter and filed for unemployment a few months ago.

"When I did it I called and I got through to people every time. They helped me out. Everything went fine and there are no problems. And it's just the opposite; we can't get through to anyone now," said Vasquez.

"We're currently receiving more calls than we can answer" is what both men said they receive whenever they call.

It is the same refrain heard from other San Diegans who are unemployed and seeking assistance. Like them, Farrier's bills are piling up.

"Everything -- car insurance, rent, cell phone, just everything. Gas is ridiculous driving to La Jolla and Mission Valley every day to go to the VA," said Farrier.

And like a repeating nightmare, every day is the same.

"They just hung up on us. That's the result we get every day. You listen to that and they say, 'Goodbye, have a nice day,'" said Farrier.

"We're not having a nice day," said Vasquez.

An additional 400 people were supposedly hired by the Employment Development Department to help unclog the system.

Ellie