/ meet the characters
Natasha Young, born in 1980
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, deployed to Iraq, 2005 and 2007
Natasha, raised in Lawrence, Mass., escaped her troubled hometown and family life by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. She thrived, despite surviving a rape on base not long after she graduated from boot camp. After her second deployment to Iraq in 2007, where she was assigned to a unit that experienced significant casualties, Natasha began to suffer increasingly from physical and mental health issues, including PTSD, which forced her to retire from the Marines in 2011.
Amanda Tejada, born in 1987
Sergeant, U.S. Army, deployed to Afghanistan 2009
Amanda, a Rhode Island native, participated in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) during high school. The program provided the guidance and camaraderie that Amanda needed, especially after her family disintegrated, leaving her living alone as a teenager. She immediately joined the Army after graduating from high school. When her active duty commitment ended, she married, moved to Oklahoma, and divorced in quick succession, which led to her moving back to Rhode Island, only to find herself unemployed, abusing alcohol and marijuana, sinking into a depressive state, and homeless.
Lyndsey Lyons, born in 1986
1st Lieutenant N.Y. Army National Guard, deployed to Afghanistan 2013
Lyndsey, grew up in New York and Florida in turbulent family circumstances. She enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), at Fordham University to pay for her college education. She began serving under the military policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” In 2011 the policy was repealed, which brought much relief since her military career could no longer be jeopardized by the fact that she is gay. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, she feared sexual assault more than the near daily rocket-propelled grenade attacks launched by the Taliban.
/ susan sipprelle
In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart. – Louise Bogan
Susan M. Sipprelle is a documentary filmmaker and founder of Tree of Life Productions, producer of the award-winning documentary Set for Life and the online project Over 50 and Out of Work. Her most recent documentary is Soldier On: Life After Deployment, which will be shown on public television in 2017.
Susan has been interviewed on network television about Set for Life and Over 50 and Out of Work, which have also been featured in both print and online publications. In June 2011, Susan testified before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee about unemployment among older Americans. Susan writes a regular column for StayThirsty.com and has also published articles in the Huffington Post, NextAvenue.org and The New York Times.
Susan graduated with honors from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2008, with distinction from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1991 and cum laude from Williams College in 1980. She lives in the New York metropolitan area, but grew up in Rhode Island. She and her husband, Dwight, have five children. She is a member of New York Women in Film and Television and the Williams College Presidential Advisory Council, and she also serves on the board of the Newport Performing Arts Center.