Month of the Military Child

Hello, fellow military families!

As you know, April is a month dedicated to our amazing military children. One month just isn’t long enough to show our thanks and appreciation to these young people for all the sacrifices and hardships they have been asked to endure for so many years. We should recognize and honor them every day of every year! So, if you know a military child, please tell them or do something special in their honor to show them just how amazing you think they are.

We’ve all heard the term before; ‘Military Brats.’ I never understood why military children were referred to as ‘brats’ before we were a military family. Maybe it’s because I always felt the word brat had a negative connotation of them being spoiled, snotty children. Military children shouldn’t have any kind of negative meaning attached to them as they are some incredible people that are asked to do impossible things for their age. But, I guess I knew it wasn’t always associated negatively because military kids or their families sometimes refer to themselves as such, but I still wanted to find out more about it. So, I thought I’d do a little research as to why we use this term and where it came from.

‘Brat’ could have been used as a contraction for ‘Barrack Rat.’ This term was used at the end of the 18th century in the U.K. when referencing the lives of children in army barracks. So, it’s possible the two words were changed into a contraction to create the term ‘brat.’

And being that the military loves acronyms, ‘brat’ could have been an abbreviation for ‘British Regiment Attached Traveler.’ Again, originating in the U. K. and again referencing the families of service members.

Of course, time changes things and with this change, terms, definitions, and expectations also shift into other things. The way military families live, how they are viewed by the military leaders, the respect to military dependents has advanced and more resources and attention are given to their well-being and lifestyle. We may still have hiccups and more evolving to do, but we have come a long way from how a military family lifestyle used to be.

The term ‘military brat’ may have started out as an acronym years ago but it has definitely changed into something unique and meaningful. Now, the term has a positive meaning behind it and is used as more of a term of endearment than one with any negative feel to it. Some say it simply refers to children having one or more parent that serve in the military, having and understanding a military lifestyle and having a better grasp on things relating to the military.

But there is really nothing simple about growing up in the military. These children grow up in a community of service and sacrifice for the greater good. They are more open-minded and more understanding of people from different backgrounds. They can become more social and independent because they move so frequently and have to recreate friendships so often. These ‘brat’s’ may have lived overseas so they can understand different cultures and people’s differences. Just moving from state to state offers them insight and a better understanding of the way people live in different areas. They can adapt well to new situations, frequent changes of people, environment and living conditions. There are views that being a ‘Military Brat’ is a badge of honor our children hold and deserve for all their service to our country.

There is a military culture that no one else can quite understand. A culture of living on a military base and witnessing all the differences there that would be so foreign to a civilian counterpart, moving so often, leaving friends behind and trying to find new ones, frequently adjusting to new faces and places, having a parent(s) deploy, constant change, and let’s not forget all the acronyms and lingo they learn. They are independent and grow an inner strength that is unmatched. They are courageous, creative, determined and strong in mind and soul. Their continuous willingness and strength to adjust is amazing.

There are many different definitions of the military ‘brat’ acronym. Some say ‘brat’ stands for “Born Rough And Tough,” or “Born Raised And Traveled” or even “Born Raised And Trained.” I came up with my own meaning of the acronym: Bold, Resilient, Adaptable Tenacious. There are just too many positive terms to describe our military children!

Whatever you feel the term means, these young people deserve our utmost respect, admiration, and gratitude for all they do to support their service member parent, even through many difficult separations, for their unwavering support to step up and carry on when so much is asked of them, and for all they do to support our country when it calls for them to sacrifice so much of their time and life for a greater cause.

My daughter is a senior in high school right now and with the current state of affairs, she, like all the rest of this Class of 2020, is missing all the sought after lasts of her senior year. Among the many things she is not able to participate in right now, she is missing out on her senior ditch day, a senior prank, a senior gift to the school, senior prom and possibly her senior graduation. It is ridiculously unfair to this group of young people. But she said something so significant to me the other day that I attributed in part to her being a military child. In sharing my disappointment about all the things she is missing the rest of this school year, I was specifically speaking about her missing out on her senior prom. This was her response, “The group (a close group of friends) is doing our own prom this summer so it’ll be fine. I’ll adapt.”

I already knew she was strong and willing to accept change. But just like that she had already accepted the situation, was working through solutions to fix it or make the most of it and was moving forward in resolution and strength.

It was truly a moment of clarity and awe of the young woman she has become. Like all military children, this life surely helps mold them into a stronger, more courageous, more motivated, more well-rounded and more powerful individual. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach our children through different eyes and I can only hope that they will one day see all the good that came from all the challenges military life threw at them.

THIS is what these military children are: amazing, tough, brave, strong, responsible, adaptable, tolerant, independent, determined, problem-solving, accepting and ready. They truly are inspiring individuals that we all could learn a lesson or two from.

So, no. Military children are definitely not ‘brat’s’ in the traditional sense, but they definitely are ‘Born Rough and Tough’ and are ready for everything the world can throw at them!

Let’s stand up and give a shout out to each military child-past or present-and let them know just how much we appreciate and honor them for all they’ve done to support our great country and to teach us what a true hero really is!

Guest Written by:

Chandelle Walker was raised in Arizona and met her husband, Mike, in California while he was serving in the Marine Corps. They have two children and one funny Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix that they all adore. They have been an active Army family since 2003 and have persevered through many separations, including five deployments to Afghanistan and Korea, each being a year long. The Army has allowed them to have adventures in Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, and Texas.

Chandelle released her first children’s book, “Daddy Left with Mr. Army: A Child’s View of Military Deployment,” in December 2018. She has greatly enjoyed connecting with military families and hearing of how her book is helping their families through deployment. Chandelle has received a Bronze Medal writing award from Military Writers Society of America in 2019. In February 2020, she was named the Fort Hood Spouse of the Year and looks forward to helping military families better thrive through deployments and family separations.

Chandelle enjoys writing poems, crafting, home decorating, playing the piano, being outdoors and meeting new people. She looks forward to publishing more children’s books in the near future!

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