Security Clearance

Security Clearance. A death knell for any mentally ill person seeking a job requiring one.

How many good jobs have I had to pass over because I can’t obtain and maintain a security clearance? Several. I just passed another one today. It eliminates any job related to the Department of Defense (DoD) and many Department of Energy (DOE) jobs which are places I could find work. Eliminate Boeing, Lockheed Martin, or any of the other companies with big DoD research projects. Reject some of the government labs, like Sandia or Los Alamos National Lab. I can’t even work in a simple position if it has anything to do with defense.

The mentally ill do have stability issues and are a security risk for projects requiring high level security clearances. I understand that. I’m just frustrated is all. Frustrated that I was born with this genetic pre-disposition that blossomed into something that taxes me daily.  Frustrated that on top of all that it limits my employability.  Even if I had never been diagnosed, it would probably come out in the mental health exams.  It’s a necessary discrimination.

But what would happen if companies found a loophole such that they could discriminate against you legally?  Disability discrimination cases are rarely won.  If I had told my last employer about my bipolar, I probably would have been out of a job sooner than now.  As it is, given that my FMLA ran out and they couldn’t find a place for me that I was qualified for when I returned, it’s nearly disability discrimination. I was discriminated against by my co-workers while my arm was injured, but I didn’t know that there was a statue of limitations on disability claims.  At this point, I have no legal recourse; I was told as much by a lawyer.  I was laid off from a previous job because of health reasons (I was recovering from a severe mania) and sued them unsuccessfully.  Oh yes, companies are tricky, and if they can get away with it, they will.  It’s why they employ such expensive lawyers.

But I digress.  My point was simply to express my frustration in the job hunt.  A job hunt that is already difficult enough with my background and education level, soon to be made more difficult by my age. It’s discouraging to be disqualified for jobs because of my mental health.


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10 thoughts on “Security Clearance

  1. Hmm. This is a tough one for me. I mean, I feel like I shouldn’t be unstable enough to get a security clearance. Heck, I think with constantly having my guard up, I have enough experience with that sort of thing.

    It is frustrating to have to constantly factor that in, though.

    • High level security clearances are very difficult. Even if I could control my emotions throughout the process, they talk to everyone currently or previously in your life: friends, family, in-laws, exs, you name it. It’s the most comprehensive background check in existence. And how would I explain the fact that I take antipsychotics daily? Or benzos? There are “baby” security clearances that just check to see if you are who you say you are and that you went to school where you did – a basic background check – and that I can pass easily. But the jobs that I am looking at would require more detail.

  2. I feel your pain. I was employed by one of the entities you mentioned and successfully danced around the security clearance issue for many years, but I always lived in fear of someone wanting me to take that extra step and being found out. I feel your frustration with having to live with this illness that we didn’t ask for or do anything to bring about. And I feel your concern about age becoming an employabilty factor in the near future. We’re definitely cut from the same cloth. So, I guess all I’m trying to say is, “You’re not alone.” Hugs

    • Thank you, Muses, I really needed to hear that. I’ve passed over a dozen jobs already because of the security clearance issue. Some of them were even a good fit. I suppose if I knew what level of clearance was needed, I would be more comfortable with my choices. I know that the one I was really interested in required a high level clearance, so out the window that went. If I had known about my bipolar when I was younger, and what an impact it would make on my life, I might have chosen a different major. One with more flexibility. I have the right to say that I have a PhD in this really hard subject, but that doesn’t do me a whit of good when it comes to a paycheck. *Sigh* Maybe I need to go back to school again but I’m not sure I could make it through a program anymore – my memory is shot. 😦

      Anyway, thanks for the hug. I’m glad we’re in this boat together. 🙂

      • I should clarify: I’m not happy to be in this boat at all, nor am I am I happy to have you be in the boat. But I am happy that I have you. I’m not making this any better, am I?

  3. It’s pretty scary to think about the fact that even though we are not supposed to have to disclose our health conditions to employers (except for those requiring a clearance), nearly every employer now requires a drug screen. So we have to tell them about the benzos, and….you know. I thought it was very unfair that I had to retire from medicine after my first hospitalization, even though a colleague took time off on multiple occasions to go to rehab for his alcoholism, and was met with nothing but sympathy and a supportive environment at work. I never did get that one figured out, why being bipolar and under control, never having had a single issue with my medical judgement or practice, that I was considered too sick to work but he was kept on despite many problems. I think it must boil down to case law.

    • I can’t believe that is the reason why you aren’t practicing anymore. Is it a law or just where you worked? (If I’m not being too nosy by asking…) I would have expected alcoholism to be a much greater issue. It’s sad to learn that your illness, while under control, impacted your career so heavily. I’m sorry Laura. 😦

  4. Pingback: Frustrated Today | Manic Monday

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