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How do I deal with a gap due to PTSD?

by Brian Fahlgren
(Terrebonne, OR USA)

First, thank you for this forum. February, 2004 our child was brutally murdered while attending college. At the time I owned the number one Matco Tools franchise in Oregon. My wife wanted to "start over" and move away from our home town of 40 years.

I sold my business and house to accept the District Manager position for Matco Tools. In part from not taking time to deal with the murder, moving from friends and starting a new stressful job, I was diagnosed with PTSD in April, 2006.

I was jobless until May, 2008 when I was hired back by Matco Tools, again as District Manager of Oregon. December 2008, due to layoffs in other departments, all District Managers were given the added responsibility of calling on every college with automotive programs in their districts on a monthly basis.

I hadn't been on a college campus since I delivered my son's eulogy at Eastern Oregon University. I found it too difficult to do the college presentations over and over again every month. I was terminated November 2009 because Matco was not able to accommodate when I asked to be excused from the college responsibility.

It's obvious now that no one will hire anyone with a mental "disability". I have been very successful in business since 1980. Any help with trying to put together a resume covering these issues would be very much appreciated.

Brian Fahlgren

ANSWER: Brian, I'm so sorry I wasn't able to answer this question sooner... I've been dealing with my own family emergencies over this past few months (not murder, thankfully). My heart goes out to you. What an awful experience and then to have your job assign you a duty that reminds you over and over again what you've lost, just seems so cruelly ironic. It's a real shame that weren't willing to accommodate you.

As for future employment, I think it's important that you emphasize your current fitness for working in your cover letter and any interviews you are able to get. You're probably going to have to be truthful about the fact that your health issues interfered with your previous job and that led to a parting of the ways. But I'm not sure you need to go into detail about them or to say they were MENTAL health issues, unless you choose to. I wouldn't volunteer any more information than absolutely necessary. But do be as truthful as you can, if asked.

Your resume and cover letter should always emphasize what you bring to the table that will be of value to a prospective employer. Don't think like a victim... think confidently and "sell" yourself as a valuable asset to the employer. You have a lot going for you, so that shouldn't be hard, as long as you're NOT still struggling emotionally to the extent that it would interfere with a job.

If you truly believe in yourself, then others will too! Much success to you... Kathi

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