A video that started out as a class project for military spouse Nicki Reich has quickly made its way through the military community, reaching those who know what it means to have a deployed spouse. In only two minutes and thirty seconds “After the Homecoming,” captures what life is like for families post-deployment.
A student at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, Reich was assigned the task to create a sound slide, a video created by still photography, in her multimedia class.
“It was just about learning to do that sound/picture combination, and we had to tell a story with it,” explained Reich.
After shuffling through various stories, it was a conversation with a fellow military spouse that sparked an idea for Reich.
“We got talking about the fact that there is this misconception or perception that the hardest part of any deployment is them leaving or actually being away. But having lived this for a long time and talking to a number of spouses, a lot of people feel that actually it’s those first few weeks after they come home that are really the most difficult because you’ve been apart for so long,” recalled Reich.
Reich adds that often times, the military member can feel disconnected from their home.
“They come home and feel like they don’t fit in any longer, and we’ve established a routine, and they’ve kind of disrupted it on us. So, it’s those first few weeks of just relearning how to live together, after they’ve been gone for a long time,” said Reich.
A Naval spouse for eleven years, Reich knows all too well what the reality is of life post-deployment, and she captures this “phenomenon” in her video.
“I talk about the fact that the homecoming is perceived as this blissful reunion, and there’s all sorts of media, and they’re taking pictures of everybody kissing, and everyone’s so excited to have them home, and then they all disappear, and you go home, and you’re like now what. Because it is this awkward thing that it is your husband but at the same time, depending on how long they’ve been gone, they also feel a little bit like a stranger,” admitted Reich.
Reich reached out to several spouses to interview for the video. She ultimately chose two spouses, one who had gone through several deployments and one who was just experiencing her first. In just over two minutes, Reich paints the picture of both the anticipation of the reunion and life after the homecoming.
Reich presented her video on the last day of her three-week on-campus residency, with the entire faculty from the program present. She began receiving positive feedback almost instantly.
“Our program head actually spoke to me the day after to say he hadn’t stopped thinking about my video, in particular, it really was emotional and just an interesting perspective, because unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t get what it’s about,” said Reich.
In the weeks since she first presented, and posted the video online, Reich has had dozens of people reach out to her, all stating the message rings true to them. A few MFRCs have even asked to share the video on their page.
Though Reich is focused on finishing her studies currently, she hopes to use all the material she gathered to one day make a longer version of “After the Homecoming.”
“I’d like to be able to make a broader version that then touches on if this is going to happen what can you really do to make a difference and make this time easier,” said Reich.