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Kristine Babcock

Injury in military limits options for civilian work

(Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)
November 11, 2010

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Kristine Babcock of Beverly injured her back and shoulder while working in aviation electronics, as a petty officer stationed at a US naval base in Iceland. The injury ended her lifelong dream of a career in the US Navy, nearly 10 years after she enlisted in 1988.

“Back then, they didn’t allow girls to go on [aircraft] carriers,’’ said Babcock, now 45 and a mother of two teenagers. “I wanted to join the Navy ever since I was a little girl.’’

Today, as she grapples with unemployment, she’s not sure veterans status is an advantage.

“There’s a lot of antigovernment people out there,’’ said Babcock, who grew up in Danvers. “Sometimes, I’m not so sure it’s great to have it on my resume.’’

A fellow disabled veteran convinced her to keep it on.

“He told me ‘There are not many people out there who would give up 10 years of their life for this country,’ ’’ she said.

After being honorably discharged in 1997, Babcock used veterans education benefits to go to college. She had wanted to become a nurse, but her disability prevented her from being able to lift patients, she said. Instead she earned an art degree from Salem State College.

Her first job as a graphic designer at a sign company ended with a layoff.

“Unfortunately I think I chose the wrong career,’’ Babcock said. “It’s real hard to get a job in the field.’’

She went back to college to study Web design and got a job at a small Web development company, but was laid off last September after only 15 months.

“It was a great job while I had it,’’ she said. “It was a very small business, and [the owner] just couldn’t afford to keep me.’’

Babcock started looking for a new job.

“I think veterans have to do a lot of self-advocacy,’’ Babcock said. “There are a lot of vets looking for work, especially among younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.’’

Babcock regularly meets with a veterans job counselor at the North Shore Career Center in Salem. She also scours websites, such as www.usajobs.gov, a federal government job site.

In February she took a temporary job working for the 2010 Census. She has been unemployed since that work ended in September.

She said she hopes her military service and work history help her land a new job soon.

“I served for 10 years,’’ said Babcock, whose husband is a retired Marine. “I know how to be a team player.’’

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