The military life, without a doubt, is a continuous test of endurance both for service members and their families. Deployments are one of the biggest challenges out there. Not only do you have to find a new routine without your other half for months on end, you have to learn how to reintegrate and find that groove once they're back. You worry about them, wish for their safety, wait for their calls, balance time zones and new schedules, and comfort them as they get home sick while missing holidays/birthdays/milestones. If you've got kids, that's an entirely different level of challenges and adapting that I would wish on anyone, yet I'm always blown away by the resilience of parents taking on that single role and of the military children. Most of the time, you're handling all of that thousands of miles away from home (or even continents away from home). Photographing homecomings have always pulled at my heartstrings the hardest. My first ever session overseas was a homecoming--the first one I had ever seen. The most beautiful little boy and his momma got his daddy back and it was so emotionally fulfilling to see the pain and heartbreak of six months of distance being washed away once he was in his daddy's arms. My husband joined the Air Force in 2013, and we had already seen three six-month deployments by mid-2019, all while living overseas in England. To say learning to adapt is crucial for survival is an understatement. I can't imagine having done that with kids though. Military children truly are raised on resilience and adaptation. I had the absolute privilege of photographing my first ever FINAL homecoming a few months ago! After a fulfilling career, Colonel Bean finally came home from his last-ever deployment. His wife and kids are some of the strongest, most supportive humans I have ever met. The love for their dad was so strong, and the happiness and relief of the goodbyes finally being over was electric.
Note: Just know that if you ever book me for your homecoming, I will 100% be shedding happy tears right there with you!