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Arts & Culture

The Homefront

Marine Gunnery Sergeant Ramiro Gonzales is welcomed home by his son Alex after an 8 month deployment.
Courtesy of The Documentary Group
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Ramiro Gonzales is welcomed home by his son Alex after an 8 month deployment.

Airs Monday, May 25, 2015 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"The Homefront," a new two-hour documentary about the lives of U.S. military families, will air on PBS on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. Produced by The Documentary Group, directed by Peabody Award-winning director Gabrielle Tenenbaum, and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), The Boeing Company and the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, "The Homefront," takes a rare, in-depth look at how a new generation of military family has learned to cope with having loved ones deployed overseas for multiple tours over many years.

Army Staff Sergeant Leo Gruba talks to his son LJ about his upcoming deployment.
Courtesy of The Documentary Group
Army Staff Sergeant Leo Gruba talks to his son LJ about his upcoming deployment.
Army Special Forces Sergeant Jamie Lee and his wife Lisa share the outpouring of support they received after his injury in Afghanistan.
Courtesy of The Documentary Group
Army Special Forces Sergeant Jamie Lee and his wife Lisa share the outpouring of support they received after his injury in Afghanistan.
Army Reserve Specialist Samantha VanFossen says goodbye to her family as she leaves for her first deployment.
Courtesy of The Documentary Group
Army Reserve Specialist Samantha VanFossen says goodbye to her family as she leaves for her first deployment.

PBS Stories Of Service

"The Homefront" is part of PBS Stories of Service, a multiplatform initiative that explores veterans’ experiences and provides a deeper understanding of our country’s military history. Stories of Service was announced in May 2014 as part of an initiative with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to share veterans’ stories, provide a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history, and increase dialogue as our nation’s veterans transition to civilian life. The initiative includes national, multi-platform content as part of Stories of Service on PBS, and funding by CPB for local station productions, national productions, and community engagement as part of Veterans Coming Home.

Watch The Film

"The Homefront" will be available to stream online at pbs.org the day after broadcast, as well as PBS’ apps on Xbox Roku, Amazon FireTV and Apple TV.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, we have an all-volunteer military engaged in multiple foreign wars that requires service members to serve repeat tours over many years,” said Tom Yellin, executive producer of "The Homefront." “Our wars are fought not only by those in uniform. And supporting military families is a crucial national security priority today. We produced this program so that audiences can better understand and appreciate what it means to be part of a military family.”

More than two million men and women serve in America’s all-volunteer military force, and another three million are their husbands, wives, sons and daughters. Yet over the course of two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stories—and the service—of these military families have often been overlooked. With unprecedented access and filmed over 14 months, "The Homefront" creates a series of intimate portraits — following families through the difficulties of deployment, the joys of homecoming, and the challenges of reintegrating as a family after many months apart.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalls in his interview for "The Homefront" a time when the military’s view on families was summed up by the phrase, “if the Army wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one.” Now, he says, “the strength of the armed forces of the United States is as much about its families as it is about its combat capability.”

In "The Homefront," viewers will meet a cross-section of America’s military community: soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, some in the active duty force, and some in the National Guard and Reserve. Representing many ranks, and drawn from across the country, these families illustrate what it means to serve.

From an Army staff sergeant torn between family and military duty, to a Marine gunnery sergeant struggling to reconnect with his wife and children after a long deployment, to a Navy command master chief whose husband has given up his own career to raise their children, "The Homefront" reveals that in the military, family life is never routine.

For these families, their dedication to service means that the possibility of drastic change or a dangerous deployment is always present. To them, normal means something entirely different than it does to civilians: frequent separations, regular moves, and constant adjustment. But these families also find unique rewards in the military lifestyle — to them, the camaraderie and sense of purpose can’t be found anywhere else. The military lifestyle is one that most Americans will never experience — and may never even encounter. But as "The Homefront" makes clear, now more than ever it is important to understand these families and their story--one of pride, patriotism, sacrifice and resilience.

"The Homefront" is produced by The Documentary Group for PBS. Produced and directed by: Gabrielle Tenenbaum. Editor: Daisy Wright. Director of Photography: Jason Longo. Associate Producer: Tom Denison. Host: Bob Woodruff. Executive Producer: Tom Yellin.