Military Brats as Adults

I was a military brat for my entire childhood until my dad retired when I was eighteen. As I’ve started becoming an adult, I realize that I’ve had a different experience and outlook from my civilian peers. There are pros and cons to being a military child, but either way, it definitely affects how you view life when you’re older.

For example, I’m used to moving around every few years. This will be my fifth year in Florida, and even though I’ve already lived in three different houses, I’m ready to go. I’ve gone to the same college for three years now, and I’m going to finish my fourth year there with the same people I started which feels so weird to me. It’s time to go, but when the military isn’t forcing you to move and offering your dad a job when you get there, it’s hard to convince myself to drop everything in my life and just leave.

I’ve realized that making new friends with civilians is really different than making friends with military brats. Most people don’t open up or get comfortable with you, so I’ve realized that it takes a long time to get to know someone. When you’re a military brat, you only have a few years to get to know that person, so you have to compress years of friendship into a small amount of time because chances are one or both of you is going to move in a year or two. Now, whenever I meet a former military brat now, there is an instant connection.

I’ve also realized that even though I hate change, I can deal with it. I feel like a chameleon sometimes because I just assimilate into whatever life throws at me next. I’m going to be graduating in a year, and that’s terrifying, but I’m not freaking out yet, because it’s just the start of another chapter, and this will probably be like chapter 50.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it. I believe that that experience shaped me into who I am today. It gave me a different perspective to look at life with. I have more appreciation for things that other people take for granted: my dad being home, being able to go to one school for all four years, not having to use Google Maps everywhere I go, etc. I’m definitely stronger and more resilient because of my experiences.

Since April is the month of the military child, I decided to interview fellow military brats that are now adults on how they viewed their military childhood.

Sierra Lawrence, 19, has been an Air Force brat her whole childhood, but now that she’s an adult in college and not having to move around, she’s finding the transition challenging.

“Being a military kid affects you in ways you don’t often realize as an adult. For me, it means not being able to settle down forever or plant firm/deep roots any place that I move. It means that as soon as I feel comfortable somewhere, I also feel restless and like it’s my time to move again. I see everything through the lens of an hourglass that’s running out of time,” said Lawrence.

Andre Briere, 21, was an Air Force brat for eighteen years, and he also claimed that he still felt the need to move around.

“I get irritable if I live in one place for longer than a year; I feel a need to move somewhere completely different,” Briere said.

Shannon Michelle, 20, (Army) also attested to that feeling.

“It [being a military brat] has allowed me to travel a lot more than most and to enjoy and seek traveling. Now that I’m finally allowed to stay in one spot, I feel restless, like I have to keep moving,” Michelle said.

Michelle also said that she found it difficult to have a relationship with her dad:

“With my dad being in the military and being gone as often as he was, it made it difficult to develop a close relationship with him whereas I am super close to my mom.”

Abigail Copley, 20, followed her dad around the country as he served in the Navy until she moved out to go to college. She said that it impacted her life positively because she got to travel and meet so many different people and have different experiences. However, she also said that it was difficult when her dad would deploy because she wouldn’t get to see him for a year.

Myles Colson, 21, was a Marine Corps brat until he was 12, following his father around. He commented on how difficult it was when his father would leave for a year.

“My buddy always chastises me for ‘stolen valor,’ but his parents never served, so he doesn’t know what it is like for the country to call upon your dad to be sent somewhere and not see him for almost a year or to have to sell our house and move halfway across the world. The toll it takes on missing that parent for both dependents and spouses… My whole family served even though my dad was the only serviceman, because we all suffered the yoke of supporting him while he fought for us,” Colson commented.

Jonathan SanMiguel, 21, was an Army brat for 17 years. He said that he noticed a strain on his relationship with his father as well because of the deployments. However, he did notice a positive effect his childhood had on his adult life:

“It has given me the chance to witness what honor, respect, and true sacrifice really means.”

Josh Guy, 23, was an Air Force brat for about 21 years. He said that being a military child had a positive effect on him as well.

“Respect was a huge influence on me and my life while I lived at home, and I think it’s carried me to success in being a law enforcement officer. I think being a kid with parents in the military really shapes you up into a different person.  It forces you to be more independent with your social skills as you always have to leave and make new friends,” Guy said.

Cassie Vietas, 21, is still an Air Force brat as she goes to college. She also said that her upbringing had a positive influence on her adult life.

“My time as a military brat taught me some of the hardest lessons through which I have gained my best attributes of resilience, worldliness, and openness. I was given opportunities and experiences that I would not have had outside of the military world. I would be a totally different person if I grew up outside of the military community,” said Vietas.

 

HC,

Alyssa Harmon