What I Have Learned Growing up as a Military Brat
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What I Have Learned Growing up as a Military Brat


April 24, 2020

April is the month of the military child, so I thought it would be fitting to write an article about the military child. Military Brats have it hard. They move frequently, and they lose friends.

With all of this time on our hands, you'll get a little insight into a military child's life, and how this quarantine is like day to day life for military brats. Holidays and birthdays sometimes have to get mushed together and celebrated when the family has the time. Sometimes birthday parties just aren't in the cards.

As for the word brat, it's a term of endearment in the military. It is sometimes elongated to "BRATT" and that means Be Ready At Tough Times.

Where even is home?

The thing about being a military brat, at least in my experience, is that you don't really have a home. I didn't claim any one given place as "home" for a long time. While some had to move out of the country with their military parents, others didn't.

The hard part of being a military child is how often you move.  You move about every two years, and you lose a lot of friends because of that fact. Home isn't a place for us. It's where you feel safest, and it's where your family is. 

What about Mom/Dad?

"What about Mom/Dad?" That's a question that's gone through every kid who's had their parent go off to war's mind. "What's going to happen to them while they're gone?" In the picture below, you can see a goodbye. A goodbye that that kid is going to remember forever. The goodbye before they didn't see their mom for a year.

Sometimes, that's the last thing that they remember of their parent. Because unlike so many, some parents don't come home.  "What about Mom/Dad?" is a legitimate question. Us military brats are pros at worrying about our parents. 

Our Language

PCS, 1700, O' dark 30. All of those are part of "our language." In military terms, 1700 translates to 5 o'clock, PCS means Permanent Change of Station, O' dark 30 means 12:30 am. Birds are helicopters,  "Charlie" is the letter C.

DITY is when you do IT yourself (a move where you pack, box, load, move, unload, and unpack all your stuff.). TDY is Temporary DutY; my dad had this status when he went to different states, or when he was fighting the California Wildfires. SDO is a Staff Duty Officer.

You generally had this on weekends, nights, or holidays. You had to go to the headquarters building for it.

Our houses aren't "Normal."

As part of the life of a military family, we keep little trinkets from every place we've lived. While they may not look as cool as the image pictured below, they are what makes our house, our house. In my family, we had lighthouses. In other family's homes, they had maps of the places where they'd lived.

What School is Like For Me

The problem with being a milbrat (military brat) is schooling. While I had it lucky and was homeschooled, I've had friends who didn't have it so lucky. Switching schools every two years isn't easy.

Sometimes you move in the middle of the school year, and there's *nothing* you can do to stop it. You have to uproot your social life and move on. Stress is a crucial factor in how you function, but you gain resistance to stress levels. It's part of life, you go anywhere, and you grow anywhere.

The Special Hobbies We Pick Up

We use hobbies as coping skills to deal with stress. Some of us used books as an escape. My sister and I rode horses.

My other sister wrote books and played the piano. The point I'm making here is that we all have our escape from life, just like civilian kids. We use what we can find, for some it's dancing, for others it sports.

For some of us, it's trail rides. For others, it's reading. Not everything about the life we live as military brats is extraordinary; sometimes, we use the same things to get through the motions as you do.

The Biggest Difference Between "Military" and "Civilian" kids

There's a pretty big difference between milbrats and civilian kids. We're good at moving; we can get along with almost anybody; after being somewhere for a day, we might accidentally call it home. We're accustomed to the military.

We've been to promotions, we've seen our parents in uniform, we've been without our parents for long periods. While civilians may have quite a bit of those features, they don't have all of them. Military life isn't easy; it's heartbreaking.

However, it is an experience that helps you shape your view of the world. It helps you know the intimate parts of what it is to be patriotic. We go silent at the national anthem, we stop whatever we're doing and stand, look towards the flag, and put our right hand over our heart. Although the military is hard, I will say, I am very glad that I was born into it.

Solstice Raeanne
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Writer since Apr, 2020 · 4 published articles

Solstice Raeanne is a 17-year-old military child and is a primarily mental health-based writer. Solstice is very passionate about mental health rights, and social justice. You can usually find Solstice spending their time reading Ellen Hopkins novels, writing poetry, computer programming, or scrolling through Pinterest.