What is a Military Brat?

What exactly is a “Military Brat”? How do you become one, and is it possible for Military Brats to return to the civilian world and forget their past?

Wikipedia, the internet encyclopedia, has a great definition and a lot of background on the term, if you are interested.

Go to: Military Brat (U.S. Subculture)

My own personal definition is a Military Brat is someone, who, as a child, grows up in a family where one or more parents are “career” military, and where the children move from base to base, experiencing life in several different places and possibly different countries.

Depending on when a Military Brat is born and where the parent is in his career with the military, brats may have a short or a long exposure to the military way of life.

Once a brat, always a brat?

My own experience was that my father was one of many soldiers drafted into the Korean War, and decided to make a career. From an early before the first grade through high school graduation, we moved around the U.S. and were stationed in Germany twice.

Some brats think that once they give up their I.D. card and after they are grown up and away from the life they knew, they are no longer a Military Brat.

The reality is that growing up on bases and being subject to the many rules and the culture of the military is actually life changing.

Many Military Brats who join the online community I started, Military Brats Online, report in their profile that as they grew older they realized more and more how different they were from civilians who generally live in one area for most of their lives.

There can be no doubt that the discipline and patriotic values instilled upon us as children can last a lifetime.

Military life

For many Military Brats, growing up in a military family leads to service in the U.S. military. My brother went in the Air Force and my youngest sister married a career Army officer (who was also a Military Brat).

I always knew military service was an option for me, but I have always wanted to learn more about what was around me and growing up in Germany gave me a lifelong appreciation of other cultures, art, museums and travel.

My mother and father grew up on farms in north Alabama, and felt that my father’s career in the Army could provide a better standard of living than we would have had growing up on a farm.

I certainly have no regrets about my growing up on different bases.

Then it hits you

I really didn’t think that much about it in my twenties, as I had started college and worked part time at a printing company. But my dad, mother, and two sisters continued to move around and I did miss them and discovering the new bases.

In my thirties I realized that I was different from everyone, except from other Military Brats. In 1995 decided to try my hand at starting a website, and created the first version of Military Brats Online in an early attempt to capture the unique stories and aspects of our very different culture.

Today, on the website I get many comments from fellow Military Brats who for years felt they were apart from the mainstream of society, outcasts in a way.


The great thing about the Internet is that it is a great tool for finding “lost” friends and reconnecting with friends and making new friends, and realizing that we are not alone, and there is a whole new generation of Military Brats

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  1. This is exactly how I feel. You captured it perfectly!

  2. My father was CIA and we were mixed right in with other military brats. I grew up on Army bases and went to American schools in foreign lands.. I think the term ‘military brats’ should be expanded to include all those who served their country and whose children were also moved from country to country, forced to say good bye to friends and miss out on family reunions. Our government took care of us and honored the sacrifices that we had to make.  Military brats are different. We had to adapt . I’m an only child, so I really felt isolated when people would ask where I grew up, or I felt sorry for myself when I thought my high school had no reunion. Thanks to you and your website, I discovered those little rascals (Frankfurt, Germany 1960)were partying all over . 

      On the plane ride back to Atlanta, I realized that I was not an only child, I have a whole world full of family. Thank you.

    • Hi Ronnie,

      It would be great to have some of your experiences growing up among brats . . . I think this may have been more or an Air Force thing (CIA), and it would be interesting to get your viewpoint of how you were accepted. I would think unless the question of what does your dad do? came up everyone would assume your dad was career military.

      Thank you for the positive comments and I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Hi im writting a big research paper on Third Culture kids and military brats are a large part of it. so i was wondering if maybe you could tell me how it was when you lived in Germany and learning the culture or if you got to see the culture. If you are unfamilure with the term third culture kid it is someone who has spent most of there developing years outside there passport country. if anyone else thinks of themselfs as a Third Culture Kid and have expierenced living in other cultures please let me know:)

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