Armucation: Homecoming Ceremonies

I was one of those people who thought that as soon as the soldier got off whatever vehicle transport they came in on, they would be free to go home.

This is a huge misconception. There is a lot more that goes into a homecoming than the banners and hugs.

These are just my observations of the Army and how Ft. Campbell does homecoming. Every branch and post may do their own variation of things.

Bangor, Maine is the first stop in the US for many of our troops. There are a band of greeters who meet the soldiers as they touch US soil for the first time in months. These greeters come to the airport at all hours of the night to welcome home our troops. Tom said this was one of the greatest parts of coming home. It is very touching to watch videos from here.

Bangor Homecoming Greeters

They can come at all hours of the day. I joked that going to a homecoming ceremony during the day is a myth. I have only been to them in the dead of night. The schedules are also unpredictable. When Tom came home, I feel like they changed the time they were supposed to arrive about every hour that week that they were scheduled home. So there is a lot of waiting.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Once the troops get home they have to line up for a short ceremony.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

From here, they are released for about 20 minutes to meet with their family.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

These are the moments that are inspiring and the ones to live for.

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

Glinn Photography

After this very little time with family and friends, the soldiers line back up to go back to their company areas. The families go to a waiting room or classroom in the company area to wait for an hour or more. During this time you are not allowed to see your soldier. The soldiers are turning in all of their sensitive items, getting housing assignments, and other various administrative tasks. For me this was the longest couple of hours because I knew Tom was right outside but I couldn’t see him.

After they are finally released after what seems like days, then kind of everything is up for grabs.

The soldiers are not allowed to drive for 24 hours that first day, and many of them don’t have cars anyway because they sold them before the deployment. So they have to make plans for that.

The units will have a reintegration class they have to attend every day for the next week. It is a way for them to have some stability and routine when their whole world just changed.

Then there are the personal things that you have to get use to again which can take time depending on the soldier and family they are coming home to.

So there is much more than what you see on TV for homecomings, and it ends up being a long process of reintegrating back into the country. It is a very interesting and wonderful experience, but it was frustrating at first that I couldn’t just keep my soldier to myself.

I would encourage people to go to a homecoming ceremony once in their lifetime. It is very awesome to witness!

Have you been to a homecoming ceremony for any branch? What things did you notice from the experience that I did not mention here?

As a side note, Tom and I are being featured on “Date Night Is”  for our date nights. Pretty sweet!

14 thoughts on “Armucation: Homecoming Ceremonies

  1. What precious memories! So glad you were there to help capture that special moment! It’s true… when my hubby got back from deployment we had to wait around for FOREVER before he could actually come home with me!

    • You will do a lot better than you think! I actually didn’t cry at all when he came home mostly because I was so exhausted to really have emotions lol. When he left though was a completely different story…

  2. Beautiful yet informative post! 🙂 I will be seeing my soldier VERY soon, and I can hardly wait….this is our second deployment. The first one was a short ceremony and the soldiers were allowed to just grab their bags and leave. I’m guessing it’ll be the same this time but who knows. One of my Army wife friends who is a photographer will be there to take pictures….the first time it was just me, and it was crazy trying to take photos and video AND be all excited, so this will be nice to have her there. 🙂

    • I recommend everyone to have a photographer or at least someone else designated to take the pictures! I was by myself the first time too, and we hardly got any pictures of the two of us because I was so overwhelmed with emotions!

  3. Wow! That sucks that they did it that way for you! ): For us, it’s always been that they land, take them away for a couple hours to do all the important stuff, and then they get to leave from the ceremony. I’d be going crazy if they took my husband away from me again after a year of separation.

  4. I wasn’t there for Stephen’s official homecoming last time. (He deployed out of Germany, and since we had a vacation to Australia planned plus my move to Germany, we had to wait until he got leave to be reunited.) He was exhausted by the time he arrived in Dallas and overwhelmed. He thought it’d just be me at the airport, but I invited all our friends and family, so there were about 30 of us.

    This time around will definitely be different. I’m really glad that I will be present for the official homecoming, but I’m not sure how it’s going to work with our families. They might want to come out, but I don’t know if he’ll want them to. Good thing we don’t have to make any decisions about that for a while.

    • I think every time changes for each person. Tom’s family was there to send him away and I wasn’t, but I was by myself to welcome him home. I think it would have been more enjoyable for me to have people to sit with for the waiting period. I tried reading, but that proved pointless…

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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