Above: The children of the Chamber’s own VP of Military Affairs Lori Stinson. As the children of two enlisted parents, their family is very familiar with the life of military brats.
April’s designation as the Month of the Military Child has a special meaning for families all over the world, but few places feel this as strongly as Military City USA.
Month of the Military Child aims to bring awareness to the trials and tribulations of children who grow up with one or more parents enlisted in the Armed Forces. Commonly referred to as “Military Brats”, these children often – but not always – grow up on military bases or installations, moving every few years across the country and overseas.
For most brats, it can be challenging to really form a sense of home or identity in the context of one physical location. Most of their friends in school on base will be gone within 2-3 years and even as adults, there is no hometown to return to and reconnect with as everyone, namely friends, neighbors, and even teachers, have moved on.
Life on base can differ drastically from a traditional civilian upbringing. Brats grow up surrounded by military police, militarized vehicles, fences, and an air of strict security civilians aren’t accustomed to. Children living off-base may not have the immediate reminders of their parents’ profession, but they still have to struggle with always being the new kid in school, especially surrounded by peers who oftentimes can’t relate to their circumstances.
Brats with parents in combat roles also have to live with the insurmountable anxiety that something serious and deadly could definitely affect their parent while they are on deployment. Even if their parent is serving in a relatively safe role overseas, going through the day to day routine without a parent is still a hardship for most children.
Once grown up, it is not uncommon for facets of a brat’s upbringing to affect how they live their independent life. Some grown brats will feel “the itch” to relocate every few years, mirroring their childhood. Others will take the extreme opposite and refuse to move, seeing their habitation choice as an instance of control they didn’t have growing up.
But Month of the Military Child is not just a reminder of the hardships; it is also a celebration of the wonderful, talented, and loyal subculture the upbringing has produced. Brats have the opportunity to grow up in a variety of locations across the world and meet people they wouldn’t interact with if they never left their birthplace. They grow up experiencing diverse cultures and languages, both on and off base. They grow up in a community that prioritizes honor, loyalty, brotherhood, and liberty. Their upbringing leads them to be adaptive and flexible in many situations, even after growing up.
Many brats have gone on to become famous artists, executives, politicians, and of course, military leaders. Their inherent talents are bolstered by the worldly view given to them by their parents’ occupation.
It is not far-fetched to say that the life of a military brat is quite unlike any other experience. This April, we give brats the spotlight and celebrate the grit, resolve, and perseverance thrusted upon them from a young age. The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce salutes the military families of our community and nation for their sacrifice and resilience. If you know a military brat, thank them for their service. And if you’re an enlisted parent, remember the priceless experience you are sharing with your family. It is one of many reasons why San Antonio is the incredible city it is today.