I always thought I was unique, but there are other people out there who have experienced what I have.
My dad was career Army. I was born into the military way of life. When my dad retired, I was 16, about to be a junior in high school.
The fact that we were moving, again, was nothing new to me. However, moving to an area where the teens had grown up together, and formed friendship back as early as they could talk, was definitely new to me.
As A BRAT you learned not to form close friendships, because we all knew we would be moving and after the first couple of moves that tore your heart out, you just learned not to have close relationships.
Of course we had friends, but we always knew the friendship would end, so we kept everyone at a comfortable distance so good-byes were easier to handle. Trying to “break in” to a clique of friends who had been together their entire lives was not an easy task.
I was luckier than some. We had lived in this town a couple of times, during my dad’s deployments, so I had a few people I knew and who welcomed me into their circle of friends. Not all BRATS are that blessed.
After high school, I moved to the big city (so to speak) where there was constantly a flow of people coming and going. I continued to be very reserved about friendships. I formed a couple that I still have, even though we are now many states away from each other.
I married a “corporate” man. Who knew that companies moved their executives as much as the military did?! We are the perfect match. When he would say, “I’m being transferred.” I was okay with that. I often remind him how lucky he is to have married me. I know plenty of women who would respond with, “I’m not moving.”
The longest we lived anywhere (before our last move) was 4.5 years, with the shortest being not quite a year. We lived in Roanoke, VA for eight years and I thought that was it – but no. We moved to the Raleigh, NC area almost a year ago.
You are asking yourself why I am telling you all this, right?
Here’s your answer…
We recently attended the USO-N.C. annual gala. Kris Kristofferson was one of the presenters. Did you know his father was an Air Force general?! I had no idea. Anyway, he talked about his movie “Brats, our journey home” and I knew I had to check it out.
The trailer blew me away.
When people ask me where I’m from, I always struggle with an answer. I usually say, “My dad was in the Army so I don’t claim to be from anywhere, but my family is all in Vermont.” I’ve never asked anyone where they were from and had that answer as their response.
In the trailer, THREE people had a similar answer. Wow! I had to buy the movie. The movie brought back some good memories, but it also made me realize there are many BRATS out there, just like me, who now live in the civilian world.
We have been at war for over a decade.
There will be many more BRATS having to adjust to life outside of the structure of the military, as our armed forces downsize. What this movie showed me is that I am part of a community and there are many people out there trying to connect with other BRATS.
The more I poked around the internet, the more I found groups and websites by, and for, BRATS. How cool is that?! The movie gave a bunch of links, if you have a desire to look into it.
If you are a BRAT, you are not alone. Reach out to another BRAT.
If you are a military family, check out the movie and understand what your children may be experiencing.
If you are a civilian and wonder what it’s like to live a military life, check out the movie – it’s an eye opener for sure.
One side note – not everyone was abused, as mentioned by a couple of people. I would think that most BRATS look back on their life with pride and a smile.
*Pam is a certified Stress Management Coach, working with military families, to encourage their hopes for the future*