When they were children in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the Greendeer girls loved to slip out of the house just after sunrise during summer to plunge into neighboring Mirror Lake State Park, where in the mornings the water was still and the forest was warm and dewy. The sisters were born into the Ho-Chunk Nation 23 months apart, Jessika followed by Kristen, but they were twinlike in the fierceness of their bond. They invented games in the woods and swam and played army, but they rarely fought for real.
“If we did,” Kristen says, “within 5 minutes one of us would crack a joke and it would be over.”
In 2004, when they were in their twenties, the sisters decided to sign up for the U.S Army through the Buddy Program, which allows recruits to join and enter basic training together. Their work pulled them apart—Jessika went to Iraq as a public affairs officer and Kristen stayed in Germany doing logistics work—but they talked constantly on Skype. When they got out—Kristen first, then Jessika in 2014—the question became: What do we do next?