By Buddy Blouin
Have you ever met a brat? You know, that one kid that gets what they want, when they want it, how they want it, or else there’s an absolute tantrum? Yes, that kid. The term isn’t reserved for children in a pleasant manner. But when it comes to being a military brat, that’s an entirely different story. Military brats are a subgroup within the military community that has a lot in common, yet nothing at all, their civilian counterparts. They are a culture all to themselves and help support the heroes keeping this country safe in a unique way, as they are the children of service members.

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What Is a Military Brat?

A military brat is the child of an active-duty service member or a Veteran that grows up with a family member in their household serving the military. It’s clear to see that this subculture has a unique place in the military community and in subcultures all across America. One of the strangest things about the term is that there isn’t a clear path showing where it came from. “‘Military Brat:’ Do You Know Where The Term Comes From?” is a question the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been asking for years. By the most viable accounts, you can trace the military brat meaning back to Britain. While it may not be the most shocking news that an English word came from England, it’s more about its alleged original form. Brat is thought to have derived from B.R.A.T. – British Regiment Attached Traveler. This was the status designated to families given permission to travel with troops abroad. Along the way, the term moved away from the entirety of families and stuck with the children alone. There are other explanations for the term, some even predating the previous theory, and nobody can truly prove any of them. But many of these others also point to Britain in some way or form for beginning this term of endearment towards military children.

Military Brat Day

National Military Brats Day is held annually on April 30 throughout the United States. This yearly celebration of the military brat life is part thankfulness and part jubilation. It’s a national acknowledgment of the joys and sacrifices that the children of our military community experience. It’s common for various organizations, often with ties to the military, to show support and host events. There are movies, games, opportunities to dress up, and much more for military brats to participate in.

Why Is the Dandelion a Symbol for Military Brats?

Although military brat is far from a negative term, there is another loving moniker given to the children of service members: dandelion children. They get this title because of their resilience and ability to grow no matter how many times they are uprooted from their homes or where they are forced to grow. This is why the dandelion is the perfect symbol. On average, it’s not uncommon for a military brat to move every two or three years. Over the course of education, this can mean switching schools as many as four to six times. Having to move at any time in life is a serious event that disrupts everything. Being a child and enduring these events complicates personal growth and development in a unique way. But military brats push on and find ways to adapt and overcome such situations.

A Unique Experience Both Inside and Outside of the Military Community

What being a military brat teaches you will vary from person to person. It’s hard to generalize a unique yet diverse group of people, but there really are things only military brats understand. Consider the sacrifices made by this group. Moving uproots social lives, makes education more difficult, and hinders after-school activities, such as sports and clubs. Not to mention all of the regular stresses of moving. Children of military members are also highly likely to endure very authoritative parents. This can create psychological effects in individuals due to the style of discipline deployed within their households. Further social complexities can come about when creating friends within the military brat community. The social dynamics at play when dealing with children of officers versus non-officers and so on. Having to worry about family members dealing with warfare, growing up on bases, and other nuances are all experiences that only dandelion children will ever truly understand the details of. Many perceived negative characteristics of military brats are often responses to dealing with abnormal situations. But through guidance and counseling, these can be managed and improved. There are still positives. One of the largest bonuses for the group is the ability to travel. Moves can occur all across the world and provide kids with an opportunity to learn and see new cultures first-hand. The life skills learned through the hardships also often result in strong tools that can be used throughout adulthood.

Resources for Military Brats

Growing up is hard. Growing up the child of a military member is often harder in many ways. This is why we’ve compiled some great resources to help military children through it: No matter what your experience was as a military brat, the one thing that doesn’t change is sacrifice. Our nation’s heroes deserve the thanks they receive, but so, too, do the family members supporting them. It’s an important role that deserves the spotlight as American interests are protected.

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Military Kids Make Sacrifices, Too! Happy Military Brats Day!



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