What About Military Brats

Most everyone knows that a “military brat” is the son or daughter of a parent or parents currently serving in our armed forces. That child could be currently living on or near a base or be an adult who has moved on to find their own life after leaving their home. Basically, the term brat lasts a lifetime.

As defined by the Urban Dictionary, a military brat is the

Child of a soldier. grew up in a community of service. academic studies show military brats lack any kind of racism. military brats grow up all over the world and move frequently.

militar brat
A U.S. Army soldier embraces her daughter during a homecoming ceremony on Pope Army Airfield Green Ramp.

The most obvious question about a “brat” is: from whence did the term come? The answer is actually not really officially defined. Wikipedia mentions the term dates back a couple of hundred years to the British Empire. At the time it stood for “British Regiment Attached Traveler”. And over 200 years ago, wives and children traveled with their soldier husbands.

But here in the U.S. our own Department of Defense defined the term in 1955 as

Army Brat (slang) a child of an army officer. This is a term applied in fondness to the officer’s progeny by officers, soldier and the families themselves – including the young sons and daughters who are proud of the fact that they form part of an army post’s everyday life ass “army brats”.

Joyce, a 1963 high school graduate who now lives in Florida, wrote:

“Army Brats” are a very special breed and have close ties to each other. Nobody knows what it is like to have to move every three years all over the world never to grow roots. But, you are told to make friends quickly, enjoy them while you are together and look forward to the new one you will meet.

Linda, a Wisconsin resident who graduated in 1961, remembered:

Growing up in the Army was a great adventure. I lived and traveled in places others could only dream of. In contrast, growing up surrounded with family and life long friends was something I could only dream of”: Linda R.H. (1961)

The 1963 graduating class at Ft. Knox High School has been having reunions for decades. They have a class scribe who keeps an updated list of their classmates and distributes it to everyone once a year. In the last decade, whenever one or more classmates decide to host a reunion, the information is put out and a large number of graduates get together every two years. In other words, no one is “stuck” going back to their high school that may or may not be there anymore – or continually travel overseas to the country in which they went to school.

Oh, by the way, one Air Force family was stationed at Fort Knox, KY. After a while, a 14-year old student got tired of hearing from her classmates that she was an “army brat”. So she decided that she was an “Air Force Stinker”! And afterwards, she let everyone know it!

Regardless all of us who grew up with one or two parents serving our country consider ourselves brats. We’re proud of it – and it help made us the persons we are!

And many of us brats would agree with Texan Gordon, a 1963 graduate:

I can say that being a military child helped me in my life. I would not trade my life for another.”

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]

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