'Stranger Things' star, a US Navy veteran, expresses 'shock' over Russia-Ukraine war: 'The terror is palpable'

'Stranger Things' star, a US Navy veteran, expresses 'shock' over Russia-Ukraine war: 'The terror is palpable'

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“Stranger Things” actress Jennifer Marshall has a special message to share with Ukrainian citizens, including refugees in search of safety and those who have remained, determined to fight.

Marshall, a fifth-generation military veteran, told Fox News Digital in an interview this week that, like most, she’s been following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “with shock, disbelief, anger and tremendous sadness.”

“Innocent men, women and children are being killed. Their homeland is being taken from them,” Marshall said. “They are suffering incredibly and feeling a sense of hopelessness that I’m sure is overwhelming. I struggle with sending a message because this is a time where words simply aren’t enough.

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“If I had to say something to the Ukrainians it would be that the world is watching. The world stands with you. Stay strong and keep fighting for your country and for your families.”

During her time in the Navy, Jennifer Marshall worked as an aircraft handler, forklift operator and logistics specialist and also worked on the ships' aft repair locker fire team and security defense force.

During her time in the Navy, Jennifer Marshall worked as an aircraft handler, forklift operator and logistics specialist and also worked on the ships’ aft repair locker fire team and security defense force. (Courtesy of Jennifer Marshall)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an address to Congress on Wednesday, pleaded with the United States to “do more” by implementing a no-fly zone, providing additional aircraft and air defense systems and creating a new security alliance.

The president of Ukraine has been hailed as a hero for his bravery in joining the fight against Russia. He’s also been commended for his ability to connect with leaders around the world. Marshall agreed with those who have commended the former actor, sharing that she believes he’s “leading by example.”

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US Navy experience

“And the importance of that cannot be understated,” Marshall said. “His actions are clearly inspiring many Ukrainians to fight as well, even if they have no prior military or combat experience.”

Marshall, who “Stranger Things” fans will recognize as playing the role of Max’s mom on the popular sci-fi series, has prior military experience herself. Before becoming a familiar face on camera, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17 and left for boot camp six weeks after graduating from high school. 

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This photo shows Jennifer Marshall (left) volunteering in February 2017 for Pin-Ups for Vets.

This photo shows Jennifer Marshall (left) volunteering in February 2017 for Pin-Ups for Vets. (Pin-Ups for Vets)

“My rank was E-5, or Second Class Petty Officer. During my five years of service, I worked on the tarmac, in aviation logistics, was on the ship’s security defense team and the repair locker fire team (firefighting and damage control). Definitely a variety of jobs and experiences, which I am thankful for,” she said.

Marshall said she knew “from the time I was a little girl” that she wanted to serve her country. 

“I come from a long line of patriots who have served this great nation — a fifth-generation veteran. Living in a tiny, one stoplight town in Colorado made me even more adamant about joining. I wanted to serve my country, improve myself and travel. The military provided opportunities for all three.”

‘The terror is palpable’

Despite serving in the military, Marshall stressed the war overseas is like nothing she’s ever experienced firsthand.

“We have never seen foreign forces advance on our land, bomb our neighborhoods, force our family members to flee and become refugees. The terror is palpable for Ukrainians. Stay the course for you are doing what is right,” she said in a message to Ukrainians who have stayed to fight.

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Through fundraisers and the sale of pinup calendars, Pin-ups for Vets has raised over $55,000 to fund various veteran and troop initiatives.

Through fundraisers and the sale of pinup calendars, Pin-ups for Vets has raised over $55,000 to fund various veteran and troop initiatives. (Pin-Ups for Vets)

“As for the Ukrainians who have fled or who are not fighting in the conflict, if you have technology available, use it. Photos, recordings, videos. Social media is often a thorn in our society, filled with drama and negativity. But during times like this, impactful images can spread like wildfire and advance the cause by influencing those in power to take action,” she shared.

The star applauded all the heroes of Ukraine.

“Some of the most inspiring photos to come out during the invasion have been of everyday men and women picking up arms in defense of their families and their nation,” Marshall said. “I commend them for their heart and their courage. My advice to these heroic Ukrainians is to not underestimate yourselves. You are stronger and braver than you ever thought possible. The world stands with you and the world commends you.”

The "Stranger Things" star served in the U.S. Navy from age 17 to 22.

The “Stranger Things” star served in the U.S. Navy from age 17 to 22. (Courtesy of Jennifer Marshall)

Marshall, who also stars in the CW’s “Mysteries Decoded,” is inspired by other stars who have used their public platforms to lend support and raise donations for Ukrainians. Specifically, she pointed to Ukrainian native Mila Kunis’ efforts. As of March 11, Kunis and husband Ashton Kutcher had raised over $20 million. Marshall called the milestone “amazing.”

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“Other celebrities with ties to Ukraine have done an incredible job using their fame to bring awareness to what’s happening. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds matched $1 million in donations for the U.N. Refugee Agency. There is movement being made, and I would urge those with money and power to use their fame and millions for something truly meaningful,” she added.

Ambassador and mentor

In addition to serving in the military, Marshall is still active in organizations assisting veterans. She is an ambassador for the award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups for Vets, which funds various veteran and troop initiatives. She’s also a mentor and visits wounded or ill veterans in hospitals and nursing homes.

“Volunteering gives me the sense of camaraderie and service that I missed when I left the military,” Marshall said. “When COVID hit and we weren’t able to do our visits, it hurt deeply. Pin-Ups for Vets provides an opportunity to engage with an often neglected part of our veteran community, and I loved spending time with the vets we met through our regular visits.”

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Jennifer Marshall and Stephanie Bingham, pictured left to right, on "Mysteries Decoded." In addition to her work as an actress, Marshall has her own private investigation company. 

Jennifer Marshall and Stephanie Bingham, pictured left to right, on “Mysteries Decoded.” In addition to her work as an actress, Marshall has her own private investigation company.  (MorningStar Entertainment — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC)

In terms of what can still be done as the conflict continues to escalate overseas, the veteran asked that Americans continue to use the power of social media to shine a light on what’s happening in Ukraine. She also implored the public to reach out to representatives in Congress to voice their concerns.

“It’s important to note that Putin’s invasion is not supported by many Russians, including those in the United States,” she said, adding that when U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., advocated for kicking Russian students out of the United States, “rhetoric like that is harmful and divisive and does nothing to help solve the issue abroad.”

Ultimately, her hope is that Russia’s invasion ends immediately.

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Jennifer Marshall is known as portraying Max's mom on Netflix's hit, "Stranger Things."

Jennifer Marshall is known as portraying Max’s mom on Netflix’s hit, “Stranger Things.” (Netflix)

“I want the invasion to end, and end now. Too many innocent people have been killed and hurt. A maternity hospital bombed, over a dozen children killed, innocent civilians slaughtered. A cluster bomb reportedly fell on a preschool. Putin is a war criminal, and I support measures to hold him accountable for the crimes he has committed. This isn’t a Ukrainian-Russian ‘conflict,’ it’s a violent invasion of a sovereign country.”