1. What Is a Military Brat?
A military brat is a child whose parent(s) are serving in active military. A military brat is constantly relocating because of their mother’s or father’s mandatory job assignments. Military brats learn how to adapt to a life that is constantly on the go, at a young age. The U.S. Defense Department estimates that there are 2 million American children who have had at least one parent deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Over 900,000 have had a parent deployed multiple times.
2. Living a Mobile Lifestyle
Often moving from place to place, military families pack lightly. In a lot of cases, military families get very little notice as to when their next move will be. They have to pack just enough clothing and essentials to survive as space is limited when traveling by vehicle, ship or airplane, to their next location. Military brats learn to take only their prized possessions.
3. Finding a Place to Call Home
Military brats are global citizens. They learn to pick up regional dialects, new languages and cultures quickly. They rarely have a “hometown” or one place they can call home. For some, traveling with a familiar item (favorite pillow, blanket or teddy bear) can help them cope with being home-sick. Military brats deal with life on base learning military customs, rules and security regulations. Going to school, playing sports and taking part in family activities on base helps military brats feel like part of a community. Many learn social skills, how to reach out and comfort each other when dealing with struggles at home. Others struggle to develop and maintain lasting relationships because they haven’t had the chance to develop a bond with one specific place or group of people.
4. Keeping In Touch
Military brats have a hard time forming long-lasting friendships because there is always the threat of leaving. Keeping in touch with family, friends and deployed parents through postcards, letters and social media is a great way to keep in contact with others when they can’t be with them in person. With the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Instagram, those having to deal with long distance relationships are closer than ever before.
5. Weighing the Advantages
There are advantages to being a military brat. One major advantage is learning patriotism and service to ones country. Until recently, all US military schools began the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and saluting the American flag. The military values and strict discipline their parents practice on the field are instilled in them while on base. Another advantage is that military brats’ experience something many people could only dream of, by traveling to other states and foreign countries. Moving from place to place helps military brats learn about different cultures and customs, exposing them to various ways of life all over the world. Lastly, military brats can take advantage of government benefits. They receive completely free medical care until their soldier-parent leaves service or until they reach the age of 21 (depending on the parent’s branch of service).
Have you relocated with the military? Share your experiences.