SpouseBuzz

Here's the Problem With Military Reunion Porn

FacebookTwitterPinterestEmailShare
An Airman has a surprise homecoming.
An Airman surprises his family at a 2012 Atlanta Braves game. (U.S. Air Force/Jessica Blanton)

The problem, my fellow Americans, isn't that a surprising homecoming is inherently bad. How welcomed it is depends on the family.

The problem is that by doing this one nice thing, you perpetuated the idea that by being a spectator of the niceness, the American public had checked the "help a military family" box and were then done.

Please stop with the reunion porn, please just stop.

We've seen it (and gotten a little misty-eyed). Unsuspecting family attends football game (or some other event like the State of the Union address). Football game officials surprise family with presence of long-absent service member. Everyone is thrilled. People cheer. Warm fuzzy feelings abound. We are all happy. The end.

Except for the rest of us, those of us who know what military support needs to be to really mean something because we are living it day in and day out, the truth behind the reunion porn can feel like a slap in the face. By watching it civilians and the corporations that are showing it feel like they've been a part of our lives.

And they just haven't.

It's a nice gesture, if only on the surface.

An Army spouse and her two small children invited by President Donald Trump to the 2020 State of the Union address was surprised when the president veered off the transcript distributed to lawmakers and members of the press, and welcomed her husband home mid-speech

"Tonight we have a very special surprise," he said. "I am thrilled to inform you that your husband is back from deployment, he is here with us tonight and we couldn't keep him waiting any longer."

Insert standing ovation and misty eyes in the room and a shocked and stunned looking spouse seated next to First Lady Melania Trump, trying to keep her little ones quiet. (We didn't include her name or photo with this story because we don't want to forever tie her to "military reunion porn.") 

A 2015 surprise military homecoming at a St. Louis Rams game made some news when it was barely that. While I don't begrudge any military family a wonderful reunion -- regardless of who they are -- that the Rams franchise picked this couple for the televised "honor" speaks to the broader problems of trading on military service for good feelings and influence. The returning Marine lieutenant in question is a member of the high-powered Busch family. The wife surprised by his return, also a Marine lieutenant, was a Rams cheerleader -- but not just any cheerleader. Her mother was running for a State house seat in Illinois and is now using the video as campaign fodder. Oh, and, according to DeadSpin the pair was married at the Vatican. Because that makes them totally normal.

In short: well-connected couple receives favor from wealthy sports franchise that is then used to make everyone involved look extra awesome.

That's just fantastic.

I've been assured by at least one person involved in a different, much lower visibility sports league that it is often the service member that comes to them with the idea. And that's awesome that they are able to hook a family up. But that's not the stuff you see replayed on Fox News, is it? The local team doing a solid for a local family isn't the problem.

What I would like to see is this: the NFL (or President of the United States) hosts a surprise homecoming ... and then runs a PSA about how viewers can reach out to military veteran neighbors. Or the NFL hosts a surprise homecoming ... and then gives a military nonprofit a spot to ask for donations. Or the the public official announces expanded service member and military family support that actually has an impact, or challenges his fellow Americans to support military families through more than just a standing ovation.

How hard would that be? Put some money where your feel good public relations on the back of military families spot is.

But that's not what we get.

Instead we get reunion porn -- all the good feelings with none of the commitment.

This post was originally written in 2015.

 

Keep Up with the Ins and Outs of Military Life 

For the latest military news and tips on military family benefits and more, subscribe to Military.com and have the information you need delivered directly to your inbox.

Show Full Article

Military Spouse Videos

View more