As I was checking Facebook last night, this adorable (and true) picture popped up in my memories. April is the Month of a Military Child, and I am proud to say I am one of them. (Get your tissues ready military families, I’m about to get deep..)
True, I may not be a ‘child’ anymore (three more days until I turn 21!), but I believe that once an Army Brat, ALWAYS an Army Brat.
So, I’m sure you non-military readers must be wondering what a ‘Military Brat’ even is.. A military Brat is a child who has one or more parents in the military. Someone who travels around with their parents from Base to Base, Post to Post, State to State and Country to Country. We are the secret families behind the soldiers you see on the news and in those sad little ‘soldiers surprise their families by coming home’ videos they make us cry every time. We don’t get any recognition, we don’t always get a say in this lifestyle, and we don’t always like it.
I looked up what BRAT stood for on Google, and I found two interesting acronyms that stood out: British Regiment Attached Traveler, and, Born, Raised, And Transferred. Personally, I like the last one the best. 😁
Being a Military Brat is a lot of responsibility. It’s not an easy life. Everything you say and do reflects onto your military parent(s). You’re constantly being watched, and you’re constantly watching yourself. Everyone you talk to has a rank and therefore determines how you’re allowed to talk to them and their family’s (if at all). You make friends and you loose friends. You hate the new place you move to, only to realize how much you love it when it’s time to move again. And family members are just people you visit once a year on vacation that are more like strangers then anything else. But that’s okay, because you have a Military family full of Aunts and Uncles, extra siblings, and second parents.
We learn from a young age what it’s like to miss someone. And the more goodbyes you say, the easier it is to say them (sometimes). You get used to moving, you get used to leaving people behind, and you get used to talking to friends mostly over Facebook and Email (because most of your friends are way too far away). We learn about what war really is, we are taught about the world in ways most others can never understand (sometimes by moving all over it), and we learn that a life can change in an instant. By just one phone call, one knock on a door, one piece of paper, or a few spoken words, life can change for us. And whether good or bad, we have no choice but to embrace it.
I have moved a total of 10 times in my life, and have had 13 different ‘structures’ I’ve called my home (including; houses, a hotel, a sailboat, and an apartment). I have countless friends I grew up with that I no longer talk to and are strangers to me now. I have so many extended military family members who still check in with me and my family to see how we are doing, even after YEARS of not talking. I have many friends all over the world that are now ether out of the military, or joining the military themselves.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me (mostly civilians) that Military Brats are strong, brave, tough, and go through a lot.. Honestly? I don’t always feel brave, I cried many nights when my father was overseas, and I was always terrified of moving to a new Base and making new friends. I don’t always feel strong, unless you test my physical strength, which even then is slightly above normal at best. I don’t always feel tough, sometimes I feel like I’m just putting on a tough act because that’s what we all have to do. But I do feel like I’ve been through a lot, and have come out ahead, stronger then when I started, braver then I was before, and with tougher skin then ever.
But let’s step away from the doom and gloom and bad stuff for a second to talk about the good things that came out of being in the military.. Because despite all I have said above, I love the childhood I had, and I wouldn’t change it for ANYTHING in the world! 💕
The military has brought my family closer together then any other family I know. My brother and I were always included in everything, and we were always told what was going on. We weren’t just a family, we were a team. We went through so much as a family that it was hard not to be close. Through thick and thin, my family has been there for one another. Whether to lift each other up, teach one another, or comfort each other when times are tough. My mother has taught me compassion, my father has taught me strength, my brother has taught me kindness, and I’d like to think I taught my family something along the way as well.
As for friends. It’s true I had to say goodbye to most of my friends, but I made more friends all over the world then anyone could have asked for. I met people who changed my life and made a huge impact on the young woman I am today, and even though those same people are strangers to me now, I will always remember them and the lessons they have taught me in life.
I’ve gotten to do and see a lot of amazing things while in the military. I’ve gotten to climb all over tanks, helicopters, war planes, and see history come to life. I got to climb on an obstacle course 20-40 feet in the air. My brother got to drive a simulation tank! My brother and I got to climb up a two story net, over, and back down again when we were only 9 and 11. And my first plane ride was a 9 hour flight to Germany. How many other people can say that?!
All in all, I may not love the military, I will always wonder what life would have been like if we had stayed here in Michigan, and I will always have friends who don’t remember me. But I loved my childhood, I love my family and extended military family, and I would do it all over again if I had to. And I wouldn’t dare change a thing! The military has taught me lessons I could not have learned anywhere else, it has taken me to far off places I would never have had the chance to travel to otherwise, and it has made me who I am today.
So to all the other Military Brats out there reading this, stay strong, you’re doing great!
To all those military parents out there, we love you and we wouldn’t trade this life for anything in the world (no matter how much we cry and complain about it).
And to my mom, who always worries that the military has ruined her kid’s lives, it has only made us stronger. 💖💙💖💙💖💙
Please share with a Military Brat you know and let them know that they are amazing this month (and every other month too). And never forget the families behind the soldiers that serve, we’re in it for life too.
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Love this!! I am older than 21 and still cry at every single one of those videos. All the memories from my own life flood back every time and the waterworks happen!
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