DeeDee’s Story: A Military Brat Part 4 of 6

Misconceptions About Military Families

There are misconceptions about military families. When we see movies portraying service men as hard-core drill sergeants with their family, we know it is rarely true. And I can’t imagine a family member chewing out their sponsor’s commander. Yeah. I can’t even picture that.

Sacrifices

Also, a Brat sacrifices daily in ways that the world will never witness. Often, we grow up too fast as we stand in the gap as a pseudo parent. We put other’s first as we long to be seen and heard. We know the pain of loss and the joy of celebration on a level unheard of in the halls of civilian schools. We celebrate our friends and strangers as they are reunited with their military member, while we long for our own reunions. We hold and support the Brats who are lonely as they miss their mom or dad who have been gone too long, or perhaps gone forever.

Us three kids in matching sweatshirts.

Measuring A Life

We measure our young lives not by years but by “tours”. You’ll hear as the Brats gather how they start speaking about an event like this: “When we lived in Germany, ….” Or “When Dad was stationed in Japan, we …”. We choose not to measure the years, I suppose because we have to watch a calendar far too often before we PCS, before we see or talk to our loved ones again, or before we live under the same roof again with all of our family.

Me at a Bullfight in Spain

Instant Connection

We connect immediately with other Brats and soon find commonality in the places we’ve lived, people we know, or things we’ve done. It brings us to a place almost like “home”. We don’t grow up with a permanent address other than our point of contact person, usually a grandparent. Our home we carry in our hearts. Our home is where we are planted for the season. We make places better because we connect quickly and understand life is fleeting and we try not to waste today longing for yesterday.

Me and my siblings washing the Pig

We believe the last place we lived was the best place ever until it is time to leave the installation we currently live. We see the beauty in the future and in what we’ve left behind.

We live with hope that the next place will hold amazing moments we can share with new friends in new places. Often, we graduate from a high school that may have been our third or fourth one. So instead of celebrating a school, we celebrate the people we’ve gathered in our lives over the years.

Prom 1979

My Feelings About Being a Brat

It’s a privilege. I’ve been introduced to cultures I would never have experienced had I lived in one place my entire childhood. I learned skills like being able to unpack or pack a house lickety-split. I never meet a stranger and I’m blessed with a world view. Connecting and being empathetic come easy when you’ve grown up everywhere. When I hear our national anthem my heart is full of love for the commitment and sacrifices of our people.

I’ve left a part of my heart in every place I’ve lived. However, I’ve grown and learned to love more than I could have ever imagined. Social media opened the door to re-connect with friends that may have been temporarily misplaced, like luggage or household goods. Lol Truly, I can say I have friends all over the world. Because I do, it makes me care more for what happens near and far. I’ve experienced sunsets in four continents, flown over two oceans, swam in the Mediterranean Sea, watched a bullfight, and made a lifetime of amazing memories. I wouldn’t change one thing about the way I grew up.

I’m proud to be a military Brat!

Stay tuned. DeeDee continues her story on September 15, 2022.

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