April is Military BRAT Month – 17 Things that Make Them Different

By R. Michael Brown, BRAT and Marketing Consultant

Since 1986, April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child (BRAT) by the United States Department of Defense.

This is a legacy of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger as a time to applaud military children and the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges that they overcome.

Let’s remember all the Military #BRATS that serve our country, just like their parents.

17 Things Only Military Brats Understand

1) Making new friends in a new distant location every 3-4 years. Usually losing touch with the friends you left behind.

2) You have a military ID card and you better not lose it. Only thing that gets you on a base and allows you to buy anything at the Commissary (grocery store), BX or PX (Base or Post Exchange (small department store), check out books from the base Library, check out rec equipment like basketballs at the base Rec Center or gym, or show with respect to any MP (military police) if they ask you for your ID.

3) The pantry usually has MREs (Meals Ready to Eat – military rations), just in case. You ate a lot of vegetables and other foods out of cans from the Commissary.

4) You are around a lot of firearms, including automatic rifles (including machine guns) and it seems normal. If the base has a FlightLine (airport) you hear a lot of jets all the time and don’t complain about the noise or sonic booms when they break the sound barrier.

5) You don’t have a lot of books or toys because it’s too much to move every 3-4 years. The phonetic alphabet is learned, especially if you live overseas and have to learn a foreign language.

6) Your church on base always has an American Flag.

7) If you live or are on base, you have to stop and face the music or American Flag, standing at attention, when they play revelry (raising the Flag), taps (lowering the Flag), or the National Anthem (depending on the base) at the beginning and end of every day. Referred to as raising or lowering of “Colors.”

8) Calling an adult “ma’am” or “sir” is just what you do, without fail, every time.

9) Calling everyone by their last name is normal.

10) Folks ask you where you grew up and it takes 5 minutes to answer.

11) Your doctor is the base hospital.

12) If you aren’t 5 minutes early, you’re late. 15 minutes is better.

13) Your chores are mandatory and you don’t get an allowance for them. Making that bed first thing every morning better get done.

14) Respect is automatically shown to anyone in uniform.

15) You have had holiday dinners at a military Chow Hall or Officers Club (depending on the rank of your parent). You know all the military ranks of your branch of the service.

16) It’s a celebration when your parent returns home from deployment or a trip. You worry the whole time they’re gone. Most of the time you’re not allowed to know specifically where they went.

17) If you live on base, you worry when a military staff car drives down your street with 2 uniformed members in the car. It’s probably because someone’s parent is KIA (Killed in Action), MIA (Missing in Action), or a POW (Prisoner of War). During a war, most on-base housing blinds/curtains are shut facing the street so that those inside don’t see the staff cars. When the staff car stops at someone else’s house, one or both of your parents, along with the other parents from the neighborhood, go to their house to be with the family.

BONUS

18) BRAT brothers torture their BRAT sisters more than civilian siblings. This is just for my sister, Patti. Love ya “older than me sibling!”

Military brats naturally develop organic strategies and tactics to deal with their situation. It makes them:

Brave
Resilient
Adaptable
Tenacious

BRAT.

Civilians don’t get it. Most think that a BRAT lives like any other kid in America. Hopefully this beginning list shows why BRATS should get extra respect. They are serving their country too, alongside their parent.

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