/ 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 In 2011 the policy was repealed, which brought much relief since her military career could no longer be jeopardized by the fact that she is gay.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

About Susan Sipprelle

Award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of Tree of Life Productions. Produced and directed NEWPORT: In This Together (2024), Soldier On: Life After Deployment (2017) and Set for Life (2012), based on the multimedia project Over 50 and Out of Work. All her documentaries are distributed by American Public Television and shown on public television stations nationwide.

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 is a member of New York Women in Film and Television   and she also serves on the board of newportFILM and the Redwood Library and Athenaeum.