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.
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