For Ben Van Horrick and Lauren Greene, their lives have been dedicated to service, to country and community.
Since joining the United States Marine Corps in 2008, Van Horrick has seen a lot in his course of duty, with two deployments to Afghanistan. Greene, his wife, has spent time preparing for a career in social work, and has spent time helping veterans and families of service members.
As a Marine, Van Horrick had significant responsibilities. He recalls being an adviser to the Afghan National Army. This led him to duties that included teaching the troops how to support and sustain themselves, and to work with them on dealing with "basic necessities," such as food, water, clothing and ammunition.
While in Afghanistan, Van Horrick spent part of his time as a logistics operations officers, looking at how to sustain three infantry battalion and a battalion from the Republic of Georgia, which is one of several countries that has provided support during the decade-long war in the central Asian country.
Deploying during a broader winding down of U.S. operations in the country, Van Horrick said he was also involved with a base closure, something he described as "another facet of my job."
During his time overseas, other bases were turned over to Afghan troopers.
Van Horrick described his work as setting the conditions, "to have the Afghan forces in the lead."
While in duty, Van Horrick received support from home, including care packages from in Mount Kisco - Greene's mother is a member - and from the Mount Kisco chapter.
For Van Horrick, his interest in service has been with him for a long time, saying he admired Marines since he was a kid.
Greene, who is from Chappaqua and still lives locally, first met Van Horrick, who is from Lansing, MI, when they were students together at Kenyon College. They graduated together in 2007 and married last year.
Van Horrick said Greene is "incredibly supportive, incredibly strong."
Greene, also a 2003 graduate, has dedicated her time to veterans and those connected to the military. She graduated on May 20 with a master's degree in social work from Fordham University, finishing a program that included interning at a Department of Veterans Administration hospital in Montrose, in a service for older veterans. She also spent time at Camp Lejeune, NC, and worked in a program called Family Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS), which helps families of service members deal with issues that may come up in a military lifestyle and with family deployed.
For Greene and Van Horrick, this year marks a significant point in their lives.
Van Horrick returned home from his second deployment earlier this month and is stationed at Camp Lejeune. His service as a Marine is up on Aug. 1, which will be followed with a discharge. Going forward, Van Horrick is looking for a job, and is optimstic. One challenge that vets face in that process, Van Horrick feels, is in articulating their experience. Optimstic, Van Horrick believes that the skills he learned, of adapting, improvising and overcoming, will help him in the process.
"You're getting the best if you hire a Marine," he said.
Greene would like to advance her career and get involved with psychotherapy. She wants to continue helping veterans and service members, and to help on a policy basis.
Military veterans face several challenges when transitioning back to civilian life, as evidenced from news reports across the country. Greene wants to see that while veterans receive important treatment, that their profession is not looked at unfavorably.
"As with most communities, members of the military and veterans face stigma around seeking help and receiving treatment," Greene explained. "There have been significant improvements on the perceptions and understanding of mental health issues and psychotherapy in the military and as a nation, but there is still room to improve. Additionally, as the public has been made more aware of the potential psychological effects of combat and military service, we also run the risk of pathologizing service in general."
Greene added, "We should consider military service as a selfless sacrifice and an honorable endeavor whether the service member experiences post traumatic stress or post traumatic growth."
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