Military Service for Women and Difficult Adjustments to Civilian Life

March 1, 2017

Soldier On: Life After Deployment premieres Tuesday, March 7 at 10pm on THIRTEEN.

In Soldier On: Life After Deployment three women — Natasha Young, Amanda Tejada and Lyndsey Lyons — confront the challenges of readjusting to civilian life after their post-9/11 military service. Once back in the United States, the women cope with the disintegration of their relationships, alcohol and substance abuse, depression, health problems, military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and employment difficulties.

Natasha, who grew up 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 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, 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, a 1st Lieutenant in the N.Y. Army National Guard, grew up in New York and Florida in turbulent family circumstances and is gay. 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,” which prohibited personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted gay service members or applicants, while still allowing the military to bar openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. In 2011 a court ruled that the U.S. military could no longer ban openly gay service members, which meant Lyndsey’s 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.

Soldier On: Life After Deployment tells these women’s compelling and illuminating stories in the context of a civilian population that has little appreciation for the experiences and sacrifices of female veterans. Natasha, Amanda and Lyndsey are forthright about their problems, but they manage to find moments of humor amidst their struggles while they gradually reconnect to the inner strength and resiliency that have always defined them. Forever changed by their military service, the women adapt to find a new place in the civilian world.