In movies, you’d see a woman on a porch, cut to the battle scene. That was the extent of how the family experience was portrayed. There really wasn’t anything out there that spoke to what I was going through, the fear, the hyper vigilance and what it does to you.
– Filmmaker Elan Miliaresis
On Memorial Day Weekend 2004, filmmaker Elena Miliaresis was told by her fiancé, a Marine, that he would be deployed to Iraq. A year after his return, Miliaresis still felt the strain of having a loved one at war.
Knowing she couldn’t be the only one who felt this way, she became determined to create a film that would share the stories of military families. Airing on Rhode Island PBS November 7 at 9 p.m., Miliaresis’ documentary While Time Stands Still brings attention to the life-changing effects war imposes on families.
For six years, Miliaresis followed two wives based in the Mojave Desert. By keeping video diaries, Brandi Albritton and Denney Cochran show a side of war that often goes unrepresented.
Albritton, a twenty-four-year-old mom of two toddlers, faces extreme pressures in the absence of her husband. Pregnant with her third child, her risk of experiencing postpartum depression doubles.
Once an insurance professional, twenty-six-year-old Cochran finds her life completely changed by her husband’s decision to join the Marines. In need of a distraction, she hunts for a new job. However, more than 50% percent of military spouses are unable to find employment. Despite her credentials, Cochran settles for a position as a lifeguard. Working herself to exhaustion, she hopes to speed up time.
Though each wife’s experience is not unique, their stories exemplify the challenges and mental health risks that military families battle. With more than 100 interviews from families across the country and experts in the field of psychiatry and medicine, While Time Stands Still is more than a documentary; it is an investigation.
Without proper data, the effect combat deployment has on families would go on without awareness and treatment. Elena Miliaresis’ decade-long project exposes the need for support and sheds light on the unwavering hope of the human spirit.