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A Veteran’s Journey

March 4, 2024

Children, Families & Seniors


Tim Green, left, with Mike Lacson.

For Tim Green, the first notion that something wasn’t quite right came during a family member’s funeral.

“I didn’t understand,” he said, “why people cry at funerals, why they have emotions. I was confused.”

By then, Green had been an integral part of hundreds of funerals as a “body bearer,” a member of an elite Marine Corps unit. Their mission: perform flawless funerals for Marines and Marine family members, including infants and children, in Arlington National Cemetery and surrounding civilian cemeteries.

Training taught him to turn off emotions and show no expression during these solemn ceremonies. He performed the duty with honor and pride.

The trouble, though, is those same skills do not translate well to personal relationships and to jobs in the private sector. After leaving the Marines in 1977, Green spent years struggling with a wall he had put up between himself and the world around him. “I was numb,” he said.


Green was married, an older father with two young children. He knew he had to quit the pills he took to suppress the recurring nightmares of death and grief, his mind incorporating his children into the dreams and dying.

In 2013, Green went to his first Marine Corps reunion. He realized he wasn’t the only former Body Bearer with struggles. He began to take a step toward finding help.

The winding path eventually led him to Mike Lacson, himself a former Marine and now a member of the San Mateo County Office of Veterans Services. Lacson asked the right questions and helped connect Green with the benefits he earned during two years of active and two years of reserve duty.

At 66, Green the other day took time out to talk about his experiences. He pulled over on a road in the Santa Cruz Mountains to speak on his cell phone on a beautiful fall day when he was scouting locations for mountain biking.

His advice for other veterans?

“Ask as many organizations as possible for help. And look for that top 5 percent performer like Mike Lacson with the knowledge, experience, dedication, motivation and desire to help veterans to get through the labyrinth that is the VA…. It was a shining light in the decades of darkness that has been my recovery.”

Measure K funds support the County’s Veterans Services Office and its programs and initiatives.

400 County Center

Redwood City, CA 94063


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