Once a Brat, Always a Brat!

I was the oldest daughter of an Army officer. We moved about 20 times before I graduated in 1976. We mostly lived in Alabama, Georgia and Texas and lived in Germany for three whole years while I was in high school. We always lived on post except for the two years my dad was in Vietnam and 9 months in California.

I hated when we lived off-post. It always made me feel unsafe.

No MP’s, no barbed-wire fence to keep the dregs of society out. And it was even scarier to me, because not only were we in this alien environment- but Dad was gone, and maybe could never come home. Daddy’s picture – crying and praying every night.

When I was young, I remember tanks and helicopters in my back yards, strict rules about everything, washing walls before we moved and moving every few months. Even at a young age, I devised a way of coping with moving. I would figure out the halfway point between the point where I was living then and to where I was moving. Then I would allow myself to cry about moving to the halfway point and then be excited the last half.

In the junior high years, I remember learning of friends whose father’s died in Vietnam, taking lengthy classes on nuclear emergencies, bomb drills, dreaming about war, shopping at the PX, and I remember how mad Dad got when I drew a peace sign.

High school in Germany was a whole new arena. Losing my ID all the time, MP’s watching us like a hawk, GI’s drooling at every female all the damned time, more bomb drills, long bus rides to school, the best friends in the world, barbed-wire everywhere, and more GI’s.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Military Brats Online in 1997.

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  1.  Just buried my family CO (father) on Monday. I held it together as proudly and with head high as I could all the way to the gun salute then totally lost it. Sorry dad…, I f***** up….. B

  2. I forgot to thank you for your story Natalie – I read it twice….  B-

  3. Great post! Spouses of those serving in the mltiiary have many challenges and opportunities. Relocating to different cities provides workers opportunities and life experiences they will not find anywhere else. I would only add that networking and the use of social networking sites becomes even more important for those on the move. Military bases offer a variety of family support services as does the internet. Regards,Jessica Miller-Merrellwww.bloggingforjobs.blogspot.com

  4. I was born on a Portuguese AFB which the U. S. Air Force also uses. I was technically a Portuguese citizen until I declared my citizenship when I turned 21.Since we moved around alot as I was growing up I felt and still do feel that I was born ‘on the road’. I. e. that I was born some place that I would most likely never go back to live for even a few years much less the rest of my life. So it is some place I like to say that I was born there but it isn’t (and can never be ) home for me. Then again since we moved alot as I was growing up I never developed a sence of ‘my home town’ That term is alien to me. I’m not complaining about it, it’s just the way it is for me as it is with many brats.I lived overseas for a total of 7 1/2 years in two sepaerate tours while I was growing up. Living in europe was a scommon to me as living in the states is to me now. 

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