“Military Brat”: Offensive or Badge of Honor?

July 16, 2015

Military Brat: Offensive and No Longer Necessary

Before I was ever born, my father was a naval officer. My father went through medical school at UNC Chapel Hill through the Navy and when he was done became a Navy doctor. I was born in the Naval hospital in Charleston, South Carolina where I only spent about 3 months of my life. After that my father was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. This is where I spent the majority of my first five years of life and where my sister was born. When my sister and I were little, our father (though he lived with us) was not around very often. Though we didn’t understand at first, our mother taught us to be patient and to be understanding of his absence. We didn’t throw tantrums when sitting at a tea party and his beeper went off, sounding an emergency he had to rush off to. We didn’t whine when sitting at the dinner table with our nanny because our mom had to bring him something to eat at the hospital because he’d been there for two days. We learned to honor his sacrifices he made with us, his family, because we knew he was caring for other military personnel. He was serving his country with honor and we were taught to respect and honor those sacrifices ourselves. When I think of brats, I think of children who throw tantrums, who are selfish and who are not understanding. On the contrary, we as the children of past and present military personnel HAVE to be the strong, understanding ones BECAUSE of the challenges our families face. Therefore, I don’t think we should be referred to as military brats. I find it offensive and far from the bravery some children have to endure due to their familial circumstances When I am referred to as a military brat, it makes me feel like the world perceives me as feeling entitled. It makes me feel as though people seem to think I am undeservingly privileged. I know I have never fought for this country. I am not pretending that my sacrifices are anywhere near the sacrifices made by my father and other veterans. All I am saying is that we as military children do make our own small sacrifices and we are not privileged brats.  

Military Brat: The Ultimate Badge of Honor

  It’s hard to find any term these days that hasn’t been found offensive to some degree. While some see being called a “military brat” as an insult, I wear it as a badge of honor. My father retired from the Air Force after 28 years of service. He was a flight engineer on C-130 gunships, and was also a fellow military brat. I honestly cannot get through five minutes in a conversation without referring to myself as a military brat. My father and the squadrons he served with have been responsible for several successful missions, as well as saving the lives of fellow soldiers. I can remember sitting at his retirement party hearing all of the stories about what he taught younger airmen, and how much he would be missed. After hearing about what my father had accomplished, it was pretty difficult not to take pride in being a military dependent. So why are so many offended by being referred to as a military brat? When you look at what the term actually represents, it’s easy to see that we are not, in fact, being called “brats.” We are the kids that sometimes celebrated Christmas two weeks later because we had to wait for Mom/Dad to get home. We’re the kids that stayed up all night drawing pictures and writing letters to sneak into our parent’s bags before they shipped out in the morning. We’re the ones that sucked up the tears at school after dropping our parent off at the airport. We’re the ones that bent over backwards to help out at home in order to keep the other parent from feeling overwhelmed. We stuck by fellow “brats” to make sure we all kept our game face intact until the deployment was over, and we did everything in our power to give our parents the motivation to get home safely. The nickname serves as a reminder that I am strong, patient, thoughtful, and capable of taking on any challenge. Soldiers are not the only ones making sacrifices, and people recognize that when they think of someone being a military brat. We have a reputation, and is certainly not that we are bratty by any means. Overanalyzing the term is not worth the effort. Accept the name, and take pride in it. It means nothing more than you being a person of great strength.