In Praise of the Military Brat

My 4 year old tries on Daddy's cover.

My 4 year old tries on Daddy's cover.

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.  Like I don’t belong here with all the other Blue Star Families members.

You see, I’m not married to the military like so many of our volunteers.  I don’t have a good “story” to tell of deployments gone wrong, solo moves, and year long separations from my spouse.  I got involved in the Blue Star organization as my husband was retiring from the Navy Reserves.  His active duty years were long gone by the time I entered the picture.

While I’ve attended lots of “picnics” as a reservist’s wife, I’ve only sat through a pre-deployment meeting once in my life and I’ve never been forced to attend a Hail and Farewell. The only retirement ceremony I’ve attended was my husband’s, although I missed most of that because I was trying to keep my toddlers from climbing the giant bee (Seabee) out front!

I mean, yes, I’m the New Media Director for Blue Star Families.  I do a lot of unpaid work for BSF because I feel so strongly that military families need more support.  But the military doesn’t affect my daily life in any major way, aside from when my ID card expires and I can’t get on base to take my kids to their favorite beach at Little Creek.

I am, however, a military sister – my brother returned from deployment at the end of 2008.  Perhaps more importantly, I’m also a military brat.

My father spent 20 years in the Air Force and I grew up all over the world.  One of the most problematic questions you can ask me, or any military brat, is “Where are you from?”  Frequently I don’t know how to answer.  Sometimes I say I’m from Louisiana, where I was born and both of my parents are from.  Sometimes I say I’m from Nebraska, where I went to high school, met and married my husband, and my parents still live.  But most often I simply say, “I’m a military brat.”  People understand.

Military brats are a feisty bunch and yes, we have a reputation.  We’ve moved a lot.  We make friends easily.  We stop and stand at attention whenever we hear our national anthem.  And yes, we love our country and its military, often fervently.  We tend to join the military at higher rates than civilian children and, despite spending our childhoods swearing we would not, we tend to marry the military as well.

Although I’ve never made a military move by myself, when my husband moved out to D.C. a month before I did to start a new job, I moved our household from Nebraska to D.C. by myself.  And I didn’t bat an eye.  You see, I’ve watched my mother do it so many times.

When I start a new job, or join a new organization, I walk up to everyone and introduce myself, even though I’m an introvert by nature.  You see, I’ve done it so many times when starting a new school.

When a friend or acquaintance needs support in trying times, I give it without being asked.  You see, I remember the faces of my fellow military school mates when rumors of a mid-air jet collision raced through the school like wildfire and a friend disappeared from school.

When something needs to be organized, when mountains need to be moved, I volunteer.  Because that’s what I saw and knew while growing up in the military.

A lot is said in praise of the military spouse and his or her amazing ability to get things done.  But here’s a little reminder: we military brats can give them a run for their money.

So, heck yeah!  I’m a military brat!

You just wish you’d been one too.

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6 Responses

  1. State Dept brat here, married to a Navy brat who joined the Army. So moving.. heck yeah, we know how.

  2. I’m a Navy spouse, and I often feel like I don’t belong, and like I’m probably not going to be very strong come deployment time.

    So you go, military brat ;o)

  3. I’m an Air Force brat, married to an Air Force guy (yes, I swore I’d never marry one).
    I can pack a dish pack like a pro.
    The National Anthem make me tear up. Every time.
    We moved to Omaha last fall. I’m thinking your family was stationed at Offutt?
    What a great post.

  4. My brat is going to camp this year, compliments of the good people who support the NMFA. She’ll be in her element there…. God help the camp counselors.

  5. Yes, Jennifer, we were at Offutt. I went to high school (at least the last 2 years) in Bellevue.

  6. I was born on base, and was moved around a lot as a little … my dad retired when I entered school, but I LOVE this post and can totally relate. I’m so glad that you’re doing this!

    Susan

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