Jobs for Veterans: Donna Bachler, the Administrator

Burdened with post-traumatic stress disorder from her 12 years in the Army, this veteran endeavors to find a place in America's workforce.

By Gary Sledge from Reader's Digest Magazine

Jobs for Veterans: Donna Bachler, the AdministratorCourtesy Donna Bachler
Donna Bachler’s brother Darrin Edward Rossi, private first class, U.S. Army, lies in a military cemetery in New Jersey. A victim of what Bachler calls the “invisible wounds” of war, Rossi, at age 33, took his life in 2005 while struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Bachler bears similar wounds.

As an Army reservist, Bachler took part in the recovery effort at Ground Zero after 9/11. Subsequently, she served in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she sustained multiple ankle injuries. The net effect of military service coupled with her brother’s suicide left her with physical and psychological wounds she carried home after her tour of duty ended in March 2011.

Since then, Bachler has struggled with PTSD. “You can’t see PTSD, but it’s always there,” she says. “I fight it the best I can, but I’m always on guard in a crowded environment, always hypervigilant.”

The best medicine Bachler has found for the ongoing anguish over her brother’s suicide and for the chronic pain following reconstructive ankle surgery is Grapefruit, her psychiatric service dog. Grapefruit is by her side day and night to help cure her insomnia, reduce her dependence on pain medication, and calm her fears about everything from flying to meeting people.

But employment still seems out of reach. Bachler has sent out nearly 500 résumés since she left military service. Yet interviews have been rare. Taking Grapefruit with her, as she must, is like “wearing a big sign around my neck saying ‘Don’t Hire,’ ” she says. She has never been called back for a second interview.

Another burden Bachler and other vets bear is an anemic personal network in the civilian job market, a result of years spent in service. The Wounded Warrior Project, created to support and assist injured service members, has provided her with guidance and some contacts, but so far the leads have not panned out.

Facing a dismal job market, Bachler and her husband, Don, who retired from service on April 1, 2012, have decided to leave their home in Leavenworth, Kansas, and try their luck in San Antonio. The job market there, they have heard, may be better.

  • Your Comments

    • really?

      I was hit by a hand grenade at close range in Iraq 06′….U.S. Marine Corps.  Spent 9 months in a wheelchair, then a cane, then crutches.  I now work every single day, make good investements with my money, and am living absolutely medication free without a complaint.  You were in Kuwait?….Really?  This is the exact reason why OIF OEF Veterans are struggling to get hired.  Its embarassing and comical.  Get real, you should have never joined.

    • really?

      I was hit by a hand grenade at close range in Iraq 06′….U.S. Marine Corps.  Spent 9 months in a wheelchair, then a cane, then crutches.  I now work every single day, make good investements with my money, and am living absolutely medication free without a complaint.  You were in Kuwait?….Really?  This is the exact reason why OIF OEF Veterans are struggling to get hired.  Its embarassing and comical.  Get real, you should have never joined.

    • SandiOli

      Donna- I hope the military has offered you EMDR therapy for PTSD. I have gone through the therapy myself, though not a vet…and understand there has been great success using it for military veterans.  It has been a wonderful therapy for me to help me retrain my brain to accept the trauma I experienced and be able to move on in life. I highly recommend it to you.
      Bless you for your service and best wishes for continued good health.

    • http://twitter.com/eagle2758 George Washington

      Hey MarineVet – she helped at 9/11 recovery dude, lost her brother to suicide. My brother,2/75 Rangers, did the same, I’m retired military,ended up with some surgeries myself. Anytime you want to walk in my boots, or hers, feel free. You are the one that needs to get real. Out.

    • MarineVeteran

       Donna Bachler …  Seriously???  Kuwait is like a vacation compared to
      Iraq or Afghanistan.  There is no one getting shot at in Kuwait.  You
      sprained your ankle and you are suffering from PTSD?  Wow.  Get real. 
      Stop milking the government and the American people for money because of
      your “PTSD” caused by a sprained ankle.  Yeah you had to get surgey…
      so do kids who sprain their ankle or break their arm or leg.  Athletes
      have surgery all the time.  No one gets PTSD from surgery.  No wonder no
      employer wants to touch you.  I wouldn’t either.