While more than 2 million men and women serve in the American military, a new PBS documentary, “The Homefront,” focuses on the additional 3 million husbands, wives and children who remain behind, waiting for their loved ones to return from deployment. They carry with on their lives while a loved one is overseas for months, even more than a year, and sometimes on multiple deployments.
Wow. Grab the tissues. Not what I had planned for today! But once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. This documentary follows several military families as they recount the multiple moves, frequent deployments, marriage stress, post-deployment readjustment issues and education challenges they’ve endured. It is touching; it is inspiring; it is heartbreaking.
We understand that Military service is a family business. We acknowledge the competing loyalties between work and home. We know we can’t take life’s “firsts” for granted…first anniversary, first steps, first tooth, first day of school. We realize we must sacrifice so that our military member can focus on the mission. That responsibility weighs heavily on the ENTIRE family.
I have to admit that this was the first time I’d ever heard “We recruit individuals, but we retain families.” Truer words have never been spoken. This is the first generation of military kids that has grown up experiencing mom or dad being gone for multiple deployments (as many as seven or eight!). And honestly, we don’t know the full extent of the implications the military lifestyle has on children.
On a positive note, Dr. Patricia Lester, director of the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, says, “military children are remarkably resilient. We see families that are really thriving with the adventure of being able to engage, to have a sense of purpose and to move to new places.” Yay for our dandelion kids!
What did you think about the documentary? Could you relate? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
See Also: To learn more about military families, read “Our Military Life By The Numbers.”