What is a Military Brat?

June 10th, 2022 by dayat No comments »


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 child of the military is born and where the parent is in his career with the military, they may have a short or a long exposure to the military way of life.

Military Brats are very adaptable, make friends easily, usually love to move every 2.5 years, but never fully assimilate into the civilian world after they grow up and leave their military families.

Early Experiences Stay With You

My father was one of many soldiers drafted into the Korean War during the 1950s. He was honorably discharged, and returned to civilian life, but later decided to make the Army his career. From before the first grade through high school graduation, I lived for most part on Army posts around the U.S. and our family was stationed in Germany twice.

I must admit that castle climbing and traveling through Germany where you have Roman monuments still standing as a reminder of the Roman civilization, as well as all the many towns where famous battles were fought in the Allied effort to win World War II, really had an impact on my development as a child.

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 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.

While growing up, a child might not realize their way of life is really different from the rest of society, But as they grew older they realize 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.

How many Military Brats are There?

There is no official “census” or accounting for how many children of career soldiers there are alive today. Estimates range from 9 million to over 12 million and perhaps as many as 16 million.

If you think about it, since 1940, we have had three generations of children born and raised in military families, with a fourth generation “in training” today. Assuming a minimum of 1 million career soldiers serving some 20 years of service, and an average of 3 children per family there could easily be 9-12 million children living today who grew up “military.”

Military Life

For many Military Brats, growing up in a military family leads to serving our country. My brother went in the Air Force and my youngest sister married a career Army officer (who also grew up in the military).

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.

Out of the Blue…

I really didn’t think that much about how different I actually was in my twenties, as I had started college and worked part-time at a printing company, beginning my career in graphic art. But my dad, mother, and two sisters continued to move around and I did miss them and being a part of their lives-discovering the new bases, traveling and exploring.

In my thirties, I realized that I was indeed very different from everyone around me-except from other Military Brats, and I wanted desperately to re-connect with others to compare notes and feelings.

In 1995 decided to try my hand at starting a website, which was brand-new concept, and I created the first version of Military Brats Online. The website back then was an early attempt to capture the unique stories and aspects of our very different culture, and bring us together by linking to alumni groups and many personal websites created by brats.

Today, Military Brats Online is an active, interactive community, and I get many comments from fellow Military Brats who for years felt they were apart from the mainstream of society-outcasts in a way.

Reconnecting With Your Heritage

The great thing about the Internet is that it is a great tool for find