Seeing as April is the month of the military child, I might as well confess: I’m a military brat, born to parents who served in the Air Force. My experience with the lifestyle was short, but I still managed to be conceived in Japan, born in California and had a PCS to Arizona.
The phrase “military brat” never bothered me. In fact, I took pride in it as an indicator of my parents’ service to our country. But that may not be the case for everyone. The word “brat” may confuse some on the surface and requires a deeper look.
The term “military brat” originates from the British Army acronym BRAT, which stands for British Regiment Attached Traveler. Most take military brat as a title that entails hardships including (but definitely not limited to) moving around the nation or world, leaving behind friends, changing schools, enduring deployments and coping with the absence of parents.
I started asking other children of veterans how they felt about the term. It was difficult to find many “brats” who are offended by the phrase. One of my colleagues, Heather Brooks, wears the title proudly.
“I think many military children look at it the same way; it’s pretty much our version of a badge of honor,” said Heather, who’s the branch marketing manager for Veterans United Home Loans. “In fact, when meeting new people and asked to make introductions, it’s usually a something I use to describe who I am.”
Heather is not only proud of being a military child; she recognizes how much being a military brat has developed her character:
“I sometimes get the ‘Oh, you must have hated moving around’ looks and comments from people, but I actually look at my ‘brathood’ as an advantage. I can easily make friends and find comfort in new social situations. I actually welcome change and the excitement that comes with big life decisions. I was exposed at a very early age to the realities of world politics and global issues that many people don’t begin to care about until they hit voting age.”
In my research, I not only noticed pride, but also a military brat bond. MilitaryBrats.com dedicated an entire thread to “You might be a military brat if…” in which many brats reminisced about spit shines, watching jets take off, changing accents to fit new locations, being the new kid in school, K and C rations and hearing the Star-Spangled Banner before movies. It’s a unique lifestyle and only those who live it can fully understand the pride behind it.
Whether it’s just understood among the military crowd, the consensus seems to be that military brat title is a lifelong badge of honor.
How does Heather see it?
“They say once a brat, always a brat. I (proudly) agree.”