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Growing Up a Military Brat

Updated on January 14, 2015

The Home of the Brave

Shawn Reese with his active military father, Sgt William T. Reese
Shawn Reese with his active military father, Sgt William T. Reese | Source

What is a military brat?

The term “Military brat” and other forms of “brat”, like "Army Brat," are much-loved and honored terms used by those in the military or living on military bases to describe the child of a soldier who is serving full-time in the United States Armed Forces. “Brat” describes a lifestyle, a subculture, a way of growing up that is distinct from those brought up in “civilian” life.

The brat lifestyle is unique in many aspects, but of course the major difference being that brats all have a parent serving (or has served) in the military. No brat has to tell what his dad does; he's a soldier. That alone is a connection that most kids growing up in civilian life cannot understand. Most civilian kids and their friends have parents with a wide range of jobs and careers. There is no "Career Day" in Department of Defense schools because every day is career day.

The brat lifestyle includes moving around from one military base to another about every two to four years, sometimes with just a few weeks’ notice to a non-combat assignment. If the parent is being sent to a combat assignment, the brat often lives alone with the one parent and can live with the psychological after effects of having a parent in combat. Most civilian kids don’t know what it’s like to live with the knowledge on a day-to-day basis that a parent is in danger right at the moment and may not come home.

Military brats are a distinct members of a subculture that have largely been ignored by researchers even though the subculture itself is one of the oldest in the United States. Some of this ignorance can be traced back to the culture of the military fortress itself where privacy and secrets are at a premium. Military brats are taught that they are a direct reflection of their parent, and any disgrace will be seen as a fault on the parent's side.

The term brat is one of endearment. To those who are brats, it implies a quality of spunkiness and adaptability. It means that one can be flexible and adapt easily to new places and languages. It implies an ideal of being able to adjust to life in any circumstance.

Celebrating in the Fortress

Photo of Sgt. William T. Reese with the author
Photo of Sgt. William T. Reese with the author | Source

Why a subculture?

A subculture is a cultural group that exists within a larger culture, but the members often have beliefs and interests that are contrasted with those of the larger culture.

In 1950, David Riesman defined a subculture as "a minority that actively seeks a minority style." He went on to describe the subculture as having "subversive values." In 1979, Dick Hebdige wrote that subcultures are considered negative because the members tend to be critical of mainstream society. He went on to say that subcultures bring together like-minded individuals who feel neglected by society. Being a member of the subculture allows them to develop a sense of identity.

Many times, subcultures are considered negative or outcasts, but that doesn’t have to be so as in the case of the military brat subculture. The subculture of military brats is such that it brought together (for no part of their doing) groups of children who were and are alike in the way that they are and were raised, specifically being raised in the fortress. Also, unlike other members of subcultures, brats are able to easily blend into any culture, much like camouflage.

Unlike other subcultures, the military brat subculture did not and does not seek to criticize civilian lifestyle. Brats never actively sought to be members of this subculture, nor do they have subversive values (just the opposite is the case). What makes the military brat a subculture is that the young members are raised outside of the mainstream societal standards and expectations of civilian life.

However, brats are some the first to say that they do feel neglected and invisible from the civilian society that expects so much of them. Because of the seclusion of the fortress and its norms and mores, many civilians don't even realize that these brats even exist.


Like-minded Individuals

The author (far right) with two junior high school pals at Strassburg Kaserne in Germany in the mid 70s.
The author (far right) with two junior high school pals at Strassburg Kaserne in Germany in the mid 70s. | Source

What shaped this subculture?

The most obvious factor that shapes the brat lifestyle is the constant moving with each new assignment or deployment from military base to military base, many times thousands of miles apart, by the active dury parent. Active duty members of the armed services do not get to choose or refuse assignments, sometimes resulting in a less-than-stellar home base. Like their parent, brats are taught from an early age not to complain; you do what you're told.

Military brats have been catergorized as "third culture kids." TDKs are kids who spent a large portion of their youth outside of the parents' culture. This makes sense as brats, like other third culture kids, build relationships to all of the cultures in which they've lived but don't really belong to any of them. To some degree, brats even identify with some parts of their parents' culture, but there is still that underlying sense of not belonging.

Military brats move from military installation to military installation, many of these being "overseas" (as opposed to "the states."). This "international lifestyle" plays a major role in shaping the brat subculture. Talk to any brat who's been to Germany, and he'll tell you about eating bratwurst and pom fritz with mayonnaise. Living overseas also meant that these brats missed out on significant aspects of American youth culture. Many of the military bases overseas only offer one English-speaking television and radio station (AFN=Armed Forces Network). Although, I'm sure that this is changing with the advent of the Internet, YouTube, and social networks.

Perhaps the biggest factor that shapes the military brat subculture is the lack of a "hometown." This lack of a hometown is the one major factor that leads to the brat’s sense of isolation and lack of belonging. Once a brat turns 18 (or 23 if he's in college), a brat cannot freely go in and out of military installations. Many military installations have been closed due to federal government funding, making what might be considered a hometown no longer existing.

It’s true that some non-military families do share some of the same lifestyle qualities and experiences, but military brats are unique in that these experiences are more concentrated. Military cultural identity also leads a brat to believe that this is completely normal because everyone in the community has this same lifestyle and culture.

I am an Army Brat

"As I look back over my life, before I had any real identity, I was a traveler. I grew up an Army brat, a runaway, an activist, and a musician. All my life I've been traveling."

~Michelle Shocked

Home Sweet Home

Strassburg Kaserne, Germany, post housing for military personnel and their dependents.
Strassburg Kaserne, Germany, post housing for military personnel and their dependents. | Source

What is it like on a military base?

Military bases are like small cities except that the military culture is the dominant culture and the civilian culture is secondary. Even the “military towns,” those towns surrounding a military base often show glaring evidence of the military culture. The bases themselves (Army installations are called “posts.”) are self-contained with schools, hospitals, recreation centers, grocery stores, and other shopping opportunities. It would be possible for a military brat to never leave the fortress.

Brats themselves admit that their upbringing is and was significantly different than their civilian counterparts. The military norms and expectations as well as the presence of military police, check points to enter and exit the base, highly secure areas, the pervading idea of secrecy and privacy alone make the military brat lifestyle unique. Military regulations, laws, and social expectations of conduct are different than those same expectations in a civilian town.

Each morning, the brat hears Reveille being played. At 5:00 each evening (or 1700 hours), brats on a military base are expected to stop whatever they’re doing and stand at attention for Retreat. Movie theaters play the national anthem before each film. Everywhere the brat goes,the base is populated with "grunts."

While brats do live in communities, these communities change every few years. The bases themselves change due to incoming and outgoing military personnel. This constant flux means that brats lose touch with friends.

Military brats stop and respect the playing of "Retreat"

What are the positives of the brat lifestyle?

While being a brat can result in a feeling of isolation and not belonging, being a brat brings more positives than negatives.

Brats tend to have resilient personalities, above average social skills, an awareness of multiculturalism, more maturity, and an affinity for careers that entail a service to others (counseling, teaching, law enforcement). Also, brats who join some branch of the military tend to do exceptionally well because they've already been immersed in the military culture.

Since the military was integrated long before civilian life, most brats grow up in a multi-racial community where everyone is equal. Rank has no color. On a military base, even in the early 70s, it was not uncommon for a white family to live next door to a black family or a multi-racial one.

Most brats have experienced living in a foreign country, which gives brats a global outlook and experience that is completely different from civilian children, even those who have visited foreign countries as a tourist.

Living on military installations meant that brats had access to free medical and dental care and tax-free purchases in the commissary and base exchange.

As a brat myself, I wouldn't change my childhood for any childhood in any town or community anywhere.


Roll Call

Are you a military brat?

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The author with her address book that she purchased in Germany in the 70s while living on Strassburg Kaserne with her family.
The author with her address book that she purchased in Germany in the 70s while living on Strassburg Kaserne with her family. | Source

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    • profile image

      Pete 3 months ago

      Melissa, just jumping back in to say that I still love this whole discussion thread. It meant a lot to me 2 years ago when I came across it and it has stayed with me since. It really grounded me in my own Brat journey in a (good) way that I had never really considered/worked thru up till that time. Thank you, again, you for putting it out there.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 3 months ago

      You're welcome.

    • melissae1963 profile image
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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 3 months ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thank you for you comment. Yes. Dependent children tend to be more globally aware than other children.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 4 months ago

      I enjoyed reading your article. I remember when I was in 2 years our commander had a talk with us about the ups and downs of making the military a career. He said he felt his son was hurt by him, the commander, being in the military. He believed the frequent moves made his son think all relationships were trivial. I also remember a Captain echoing your words about dependent children being better traveled and hence more knowledgeable about many things.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Before I even reached the end, I was thinking that you probably wouldn't trade your childhood for another. Military families sacrifice so much, but in other ways, they also gain so much.

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      jay chase 2 years ago

      My Father was in the Army was born in Germany don't remember to much move to Arizona where we stayed until my dad came back from Vietnam where I met jimmy and geroge then left to California bay area met a great family who dad was in the Navy where I cracked my tailbone on a bicycle going downhill no brake. Moved to Japan by a way of a boat called President Cleveland what a trip lost my gut the first few days. Was at camp Zama wow love that place since my mom was from Japan met my grand parents love them both and miss them. Met a lot good people (Wayne, Sheri) there when we lived there never wanted to move love Japan so much history and family and friends. Left there went to Fort Polk La. Met a great person there yes female was 15 years old when we left. Moved to California Fort Ord wow what a place I will call home Marina, lots of good people there. Yes as military brat you move a lot met a lot of people in his travel and gets hurt a lot. But the one person I will miss is the place er son who took me to all these places my Dad who past away in 2007, who never seen me retire from the military but Air Force, he wanted me to go army. Now my kids are military brats and have learned a lot. Being a military brat is not a bad thing it's great and if I had to do and gain I would.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      This is fascinating, and I didn't know that a "brat" is a term of endearment at all. It must be quite a strange experience for children whose parents are in combat. Voted useful!

    • Robert Levine profile image

      Robert Levine 2 years ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

      Interesting. Thanks for the follow!

    • melissae1963 profile image
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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      @Robert Levine: Here is my understanding of a subculture versus a counter culture~a subculture shares some qualities with larger society, but develops its own norms, etc. A counter culture totally disregards the norms of larger society and completely create their own society.

      Re integration of the military: In 1947, the US Air Force closed Tuskeegee (sp?) as the last segregated officer training progam to begin integrated classes. Brown vs. BOE was not fully implemented until 1955. In the mid 70s, interracial marriages in civilian life were only at 2%. They were higher in the military at the same time. I'm sorry I don't have the % for that. I'll do a little research on that one.

      Yes, my glasses and hair-do are distinctive~I like to look the part of aging English teacher slash poor writer.

    • Robert Levine profile image

      Robert Levine 2 years ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

      Melissa, what would you say--or what would the sociologists you cite say--is the difference between a subculture and a counterculture, like that of the hippies in the late Sixties?

      While the US Armed Forces were integrated before civilian society, I wouldn't say it was "long before"--1951, vs. Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and actual desegregation in the Sixties and Seventies.

      Those are some serious sequined glasses in the last picture!

    • melissae1963 profile image
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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      @rachelalba~thank you so much for reading my article and commenting. Of course, prayers are especially welcome as I lost my Warrior Father last October. We'll be burying his remains next month in the National Cemetary in Beaufort, South Carolina. He'll be buried with full military honors.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      That was all very interesting. I always wondered why military children were called Military Brats. I have so much respect for our soldiers and their families. Also a new respect for the children who has a parent overseas in combat zones. Just know that my prayers are with the military, all branches and their families every day.

      God bless you all!

      PS I love the video of the children coming to attention during the retreat.

    • melissae1963 profile image
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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thanks again, y'all. Yes, most folks don't even realize that Military Brats exist. They're invisible.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting hub. I am now able to know the lifestyles of military brats. Thanks for sharing it.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I must say, you have described the military brat, perfectly! I am a military brat. My family travelled a lot. I do miss the lifestyle. In fact, the happiest and safest I have ever felt is when I lived on a military base.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      My Dad was still in the army when I was born. He'd gone west from El Alamein, north from Libya to Sicily and up the 'boot' as a bren gunner with the Royal Engineers' mine detectors, was wounded and spent recovery time in Rome in 1944 (his story comes into the Hub 'Salerno Sally') before going on to Florence where he 'celebrated' his 21st. Then over the Alps into southern Austria where he met Mum. I was born there in 1947 before he was brought back for 'de-mob' at Catterick later the same year. We followed on and I was brought up in the shadow of Dorman Long's steel works east of Middlesbrough at Grangetown.

      My cousin Paul was in the Parachute Regiment of the Royal Artillery, based in North Germany in the late 80's. My cousin Corinne's son Gary served with the Signals in Afghanistan (X3). Now he's out of the army and his younger half-brother Michael's joined the Royal Navy whilst Paul's son Tom's joined the army.

      Nearest I got to wearing a uniform was as a Boy Scout, then as a security guard (not for long, 12 hour shifts!) and finally working for Royal Mail on the letter sorting machines. Not exactly an Army Brat, just a brat.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      My father's military service was behind him by the time he married and I was born. I have no knowledge outside of stories told by acquaintances, of life on a military base.

      My current husband, however, is/was an Army brat, growing up with a special-forces stepfather from the age of 5. He has been to many countries in his youth, as you say.

      I have cousins whose father was in the Coast Guard, but even though they moved often, they stayed stateside, and always lived in a regular town or city.

      Your article was very interesting, and gives an important insight into those who grew up in the shadow of the armed forces.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Interesting on the food choices, Melissa. I think it definitely influenced my food choices. I'm now vegetarian and even giving up dairy and it's been an easy road to all that since I'm so open to many and new foods around the world. An interesting aspect on the food issues . . . I'm not allowed to donate blood because there is a rule that since I lived in Europe in the 1980s (as an Army Bratt), I might just have mad cow disease. I think I'd know if I had it at this point.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I've never really known a military brat, and this subculture wasn't even on my radar screen. But it sounds as if the advantages far outweigh the challenges. The exposure to other places and people and cultures that most of us home-bound folk seldom get to experience is priceless, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing this.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your sharing about military brats is very interesting to me. I have no clue about this life but your hub gave me a good glimpse of this subculture.

    • melissae1963 profile image
      Author

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thanks for all the comments. My next project is to write about how being a brat has influenced our food choices.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Melissa, I learned so much from this great hub! I was not a military brat, but I feel I gained a wealth of knowledge from what you shared as well as the comments. Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting. THANK YOU! Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A kayaker and a teacher? We already have much in common. Wonderful look at being a military brat...thanks for sharing it with us.

    • ThrashDD profile image

      Denise Ilgenfritz-Thrasher 2 years ago from Colorado

      P.S. Life wasn't always "rosy" in our home either. There was/is always a shroud of secrecy and "confidential information" that left questions unanswered. I've done a lot of personal "work" to figure out who I am outside of being "an officer's daughter." I'm still confused, because that expectation came with very mixed feelings, and for good reason. ❤️

    • ThrashDD profile image

      Denise Ilgenfritz-Thrasher 2 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you for writing this Melissa. I hadn't thought about my feelings of sadness, and being "banished" once I was no longer able to come and go at free will on post. In a sense when I lost that "privledge" I lost something that had defined me for my entire life. It had represented home, and a sense of safety that people (civilians) would never understand. Things unique to "brats," most specifically the fear that I'd never see my dad when he left for two tours in Vietnam. Then again, the dad that came home wasn't the same dad that left. He was a changed man.

      We always lived "on the economy" when my dad was stationed overseas. My parents felt it would be a good experience for us, and it was. I have less than a handful of what I consider true friends, and all but one is a brat herself. These friendships were only maintained through a commitment to letter writing. I'm blessed to have these women in my life, even though we continue to live far from each other.

      I was reminded when I was reading an article the other day, how my sense of patriotism runs deep. Probably deeper than the majority of people my age (b.1961). It was with fondness I recalled the entire base going silent when the flag was being lowered and the bugle call of 'Retreat' was played. I think it's sad children no longer recite the 'Pledge of Allegiance' at school. I knew what those words meant.

      Regardless, please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. There are no words to comfort such a loss. Keep writing, you have a gift, and your post here certainly stirred something in me. I thank you for that.

      We (my parents and me) were told on my 50th birthday that my dad hadn't gained enough strength to withstand treatment for B-cell Lymphoma. I can still see him looking at us, and telling us "Don't look so sad. We're born and we die. It's time for me to meet my maker." It was a gentle "order." He was proud and un-afraid. He was given several months to live, and wanted to come home. My mother was afraid. Five days later I called to check in on him. He wasn't doing well, so I rushed to the rehabilitation facility, and found him actively dying. I told him I was there to take him home, which slowed the process. I signed the DNR, made arrangements with hospice, and sat with him the entire day while my sisters made space for him in my parents great-room. The next morning, he drew his last breath at a time he would be getting the paper, pouring orange juice, and making tea. My greatest fear had come true. But, how blessed I am that I didn't realize this like so many other brats at tender ages.

      My father loved the flag first, my mother second, and us kids next. We understood the "chain of command" even at home. We always knew where we stood, because he didn't mince words. My warrior father was always and will always be my hero. He was my heart parent, and I was proud to be his daughter. We understood each other. I never doubted his love for me.. It's probably the only unconditional love I've ever known, or will know.

      A brat friend called me the morning she lost her father, and I could hear her tears and pain in my moment of greatest grief. In her condolences to me, she promised I wouldn't cry every day. While her words are true, there's deep emotion when I remember his body being draped with the flag, and then the 21 gun solute at the graveside, where the active duty men and women had tears in their eyes. There are tears each time I hear of a fallen soldier, or witness the emotional and physical sacrifices that so many of our service men and women suffer. I know their families suffer too, they are unrecognized heroes. Bless you Melissa, I honor in you, that which I honor in me. Keep writing.....

    • melissae1963 profile image
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      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Oh I so agree. It was not all rosy for me. I do have some tendencies~negative ones~that I think are a result of growing up a brat. Yes, there is more to this.

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      plandergan 2 years ago

      For what it is worth, I'm personally really feeling the most recent comments/sentiments of terri and Tracy! And, with it, I think interesting to note that the collective experiences/reflections of fellow brats above seem to fall into two pretty distinct camps, either largely all-very-positive or some very-mixed-feelings. But, to be sure, ALL very proud to be military! Melissa, clearly more meat on this bone - keep writing! :-)

    • profile image

      Tracy 2 years ago

      The hardest things, I've found, are the disappearance of your childhood "hometowns", being kicked out of "the club" as a civilian adult when you don't feel you really belong anywhere else... and the question "where do you come from?". Where do you come from when you are born in one place and moved constantly after that?

    • profile image

      terri 2 years ago

      I am an Air Force Brat. I am 57 years old and I fall into the category of staying put. I love to travel but I haven't moved further than 50 miles since we returned to the states. That was 40 years ago..about... When we got back is was 16. Totally closed the door to my past and didn't open it gain until this past august when i caught up with a close friend from england. We came back to reverse culture shock and didn't fit in anywhere. Hard for a teenager....No complaints, I loved growing up the way I did..i would not change it... i just wish i could have handled it. Today I can't get enough. Since my reconnection this summer I have been buried in "Brat", "TCK" stuff. Finding my childhood. Anyway thanks for a great article and a trip down memory lane.

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      jillbythesea 2 years ago

      I am an army Brat and a Army Vet. My husband is as well. I wouldn't change anything. I will admit that I don't have many close friends. But the friends I do have, I cherish. I was exposed to a lot of different cultures, races and lived in different countries. I would do it all over again.

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      Eileen Edwards Wray 2 years ago

      Thank you for writing the book. My sibs and I brew up military-Air Force. My mother was a WW2 ARMY nurse, but after the war, she got out. My father and mother met while both were serving in Tunisia, and they married. Dad was a P-51 pilot. He stayed in till 1972. Assignments in Germany, Turkey, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Plattsburgh NY. Even between my sisters and I we have different feelings and events about it. I married AF, and my kids had the experience of their stepdad being gone, and living in base housing. It is a different life, and they appreciated that they met and were friends with many cultures. I know this contributed to their acceptance of ALL today. They are wonderful kids. and our grandson is in the AF now! Serving proudly!

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      plandergan 2 years ago

      Melissa, my condolences for the recent loss of your dad.

      Thanks, again, for the article & the opportunity to connect back to those "brat" times & fellow travelers. Keep leading the way. ;-)

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      Dave Smith 2 years ago

      Brought back great memories. Was in Hanau and Frankfurt 1974-76. Go Panthers.

    • melissae1963 profile image
      Author

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thank you so much for posting. I, too, see that we brats stick together. I'm so glad that I could share this small bit with you. I hope to be able to post some more similar articles soon.

      Melissa

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      melissa adkins Baker 2 years ago

      I too am an army brat ,my father was stationed at strassburg two times and Baumholder once so half my childhood was in Europe.I loved our travels,I saw things most people only dream of.I later joined the Army faught in two wars then marriedArmy.Being a civilian in a non military town with my past is hard im considered differentand looked at suspect (everyone here has know each other since birth) .despite everything I am proud to be a brat and would not change a thing. Side note of those that voted 98 % brats ,guess even now we stick together and tend toward common articles:)

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      Dan P 2 years ago

      I was an Army brat and also lived in Germany (Hanau) during the late '70s. I agree with all of the positives and negatives that everyone has posted. My brother and I have suffered from all sorts of issues that I won't detail here. But I know that I am 100% proud of my father's service to our country, and I have no regrets.

      I have noticed over the years that the people I relate to the easiest are other military brats. I'll meet someone and hit it off with him or her and then find out that they grew up the same way I did. I also married an Army brat. We met when we were 15, but figured out that our paths had been crossing since we were 4.

      Thank you for your article. I remember we used to play Baumholder all the time. Your article brought back a lot of memories.

    • melissae1963 profile image
      Author

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thank you so much for posting. There are so many different stories out there.

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      Veronica Hampton 2 years ago

      Been a military brat of Canadian Staff Sargent Air Force (deceased ) I have always enjoyed the postings my Dad had while served. I'm now enjoying the community of which I chose to live in. My highest regards and respect to those that wish to serve to protect our rights and our country!!!

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      Sandy Girard (nee Stephenson) 2 years ago

      Being an army brat taught me how to keep long distance relationships and how to cherish any connections I did make along the way and keep them alive through letters, cards, phone calls and visits as I grew older. In fact, I have the same best friend that I had since we were 6 at Currie Barracks, Calgary, Canada. We are 67! In fact, all of my army brat friends, count those years as our happiest memories. Like one huge family. The reunions are always fun!

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      Cynthia 2 years ago

      I enjoyed reading the article. I could also relate. I was an army brat. I think there were both positvies and negatives with growing up this way, but I wouldn't want to have grown up any other way. We had a very close family. I have friends all over that I have stayed in contact with or found on facebook. Was it all easy? No, I hated changing schools and leaving friends behind. But, I don't think it scarred me. I don't think the bad outweighed the good. I just think that like with everything else, there was good and there was bad.

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      csandra 2 years ago

      I would not have wanted it any other way! It has enriched my life and beyond.

      Class of 1969

      Berlin, Germany

    • melissae1963 profile image
      Author

      Melissa Reese Etheridge 2 years ago from Tennessee, United States

      Thank you so much for reading and posting on my blog. My dad recently passed away, and I felt it was time for me to write about my memories of such a different childhood.

      I understand the negative part, but I had to stop somewhere. I may delve into that in a later post, or I may address it in a longer piece in an ebook.

      Believe me, it was not all rosy, and I've still got some issues, but I never once regret my upbringing. I even told my dad on his deathbed that I truly loved growing up as the child of a soldier.

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      plandergan 2 years ago

      Don't usually post online but this one touched a nerve (and, at 58, the thought strikes me that I've rarely sought out and read up on the shared "brat" experience... hummm). At any rate, I really enjoyed and related to the article, but I did want to add that my related outcome/experience was much more like Fishy's. I never really shook the feeling of being "unmoored" from my childhood the rest of my life. I also really, really hated being the new kid in school in those elementary years, and on some level transient personal relationships have always continued to be my baseline adult-norm. With that said, I have always felt very proud to have been a "brat" and a child of a career military parent. And, indeed, as adult I have always appreciated that I got to have the "overseas" experience and what could be considered a net-negative experience of those formative years has largely felt net-positive as adult with the benefit of some perspective and understanding. Finally, my own working life-observation of fellow "brats" throughout the years is that we tend to fall into two camps; those that are seemingly compelled to move every so often the rest of their adult lives, or, those that NEVER move again the rest of their adult life. You can count me fully committed to the latter (40 years and counting), and no doubt a large part of that was the purposeful choice of childhood experience for my own kids.

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      Twisted Fishy 2 years ago

      I was a Navy "brat" - before & throughout the Vietnam war. I'd agree with most of this, except that the positives outweighed the negatives. For me, it was completely the opposite. I do agree with the sense of never belonging anywhere, which is even more pronounced since I've moved to a state that has almost no military culture whatsoever. It's unheard of here to not have a hometown, or family ties, or to not live in the same place where you were born & grew up. It's impossible to explain this to people who've never known a transient lifestyle. Even my father, who spent most of my childhood & adolescence on cruises, doesn't have the same memories or history as my mother & I have.

      Because I went directly from being a military daughter to being a military wife, the effects were even greater. For instance, although I had a major health issue, I have no medical records from before the age of 27. Like the article mentions, one of my "hometowns" no longer exists. I have never had the experience of "just running into" a relative or old school friend. In fact, I never formed any relationships with my extended family, and I never maintained any of my school friendships. It took me many years after getting away from the military lifestyle to learn how to form lasting relationships at all. In my experience, that's more often the case with people raised in the military than to have good social skills. We can be great in a room full of people we've never met, but we very seldom make any permanent connections.

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      Marcelle Bell 2 years ago

      Nice job on this hub. I am also a military brat (army) and am very proud of that. I did have a challenging childhood with all my moves - 18 in all - but wouldn't trade it for anything. I lived all across the U.S., plus Germany and Belgium. I even changed HS three times, starting out in Belgium, then Kansas, then finishing up in Virginia before heading out to another state for college. I agree with the positive points you bring up as I can attest that my brat experience has made me much more resilient, social and multicultural. Thank you for writing this.

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      acindia 2 years ago

      I was a brat, loving every minute....I spent 8 years in Germany and met a pathoria of people....I still keep in touch with some. I wouldn't have changed that lifestyle if I had a choice.....

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      Sonia Montes 2 years ago

      I was the first military brat to live at Borinquen Field in Puerto Rico, later changed to Ramey Air Force Base. Married to a military man my three children are military brats also.since my two sons joined the military my grandchildren carry the title of military brats with pride

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      Kay Harrell Kern 2 years ago

      I think I lived in that building on the third floor. I wouldn't change anything about my life as an Army Brat, but there were sacrifices that I wouldn't wish on anyone.