What Happens After the Happy Homecoming Videos?


There’s nothing more heartwarming than videos of families running toward their service member who just returned home from deployment.

For twenty or thirty seconds we share the joy, the excitement, the relief that a family experiences when their Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Coastie, or Airman is finally home. It’s easy to get choked up at the thought of a service member’s selfless service, and the sacrifice of their family. When we see their tearful smiles, we want to reach out to the screen and hug them, too! We see children burst in tears at the sight of their daddy or mommy. We watch parents cover their face in emotion as their daughter surprises them in uniform. We see a precious moment when a Soldier meets his 3-month old baby for the first time.

We don’t see a lot of things, though.

We don’t see the struggle for service members to reconnect with kids that are one year older than when they left. We don’t see the struggle to renegotiate household chores and routines. We don’t see the marriage that needs rekindling. We don’t see the symptoms of post-traumatic stress develop. We don’t see the pain of anxiety or depression that many military families are too familiar with.

Homecoming videos have incredible potential to connect us as human beings and narrow the gap between the civilian and military communities. These digital memories can be shared across the world and touch the hearts of millions.

But if we don’t follow up that video with real talk about real life after combat deployments, we miss out on a huge opportunity to have meaningful conversation.

I believe we should seek out opportunities to find the bright side, to stay positive, to develop resiliency. Optimism is vital for any military family. So keep sharing the videos! Celebrate homecomings! But let’s not walk past a door to deepen connections in a genuine, honest way.

What if, when we are moved by a video of a service member’s return home, we act on our gratitude? What if we write a letter to a legislator, make a donation to a military advocacy group, or reach out to a local veterans’ group? What if we call or text a military spouse we know, just to check in?

Families who have experienced deployment know that a homecoming video is only twenty seconds of a years-long journey. Let’s not only share those sweet videos–but learn to share even more with one another after the clip ends.

Posted by Teresa Banner, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer

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