In 1986, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger established April as the “Month of the Military Child”, recognizing U.S. military children ranging in age from infant to 18 years old, who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces.
Recently, a group of adult military brats began a grass-roots movement to make April 30 the official National Military Brats Day. Like so many grass-roots efforts, the movement began in small discussions on social media, quickly became organized and gained momentum.
Why April 30th?
Through discussions and polls, participants agreed that April 30, the last day of the month honoring military children, would be most meaningful to adult brats. It would symbolize the time many of them– at age 18—or 23 if they were in college– had to give up their ID cards and leave behind the only lifestyle they had ever known.
“The worst thing about being a military brat is not being a military brat anymore. When they take away your ID card, they take away your life. Everything you’ve known. Everything that is security to you.” –Marc Curtis, founder of Military Brats Registry.
Curtis estimates there are about 15 million military brats – those who are, or once were, the children of active duty service personnel.
Military Brat Cultural Identity
Best-selling author Pat Conroy was a major supporter of the research and writing efforts of journalist Mary Edwards Wertsch and filmmaker Donna Musil, who have both devoted their lives to studying the effects of military life on children. Conroy’s novel, The Great Santini, was inspired by his life growing up under the strict discipline of a US Marine officer, and his story resonated with many military children.
In 1991, Wertsch’s book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood inside the Fortress identified common themes, special challenges and strengths and the unique subculture experienced by American military dependents.
Conroy wrote the introduction to Wertsch’s book, saying,
“Her book speaks in a language that is clear and stinging and instantly recognizable to me, yet it’s a language I was not even aware I spoke. She isolates the military brats of America as a new indigenous subculture with our own customs, rites of passage, forms of communication, and folkways…”
Conroy also authorized the use of his work in the award-winning documentary Brats: Our Journey Home, directed by Donna Musil, founder of “Brats without Borders.”
Musil explains, “Growing up ‘brat’ has a profound effect on a person’s life. It shapes the way one thinks, feels, and behaves—as a child and as an adult. Brats without Borders has been a voice for this invisible subculture–from advocating for after school Brats Clubs, the new BRAT Art Institute, to keeping our name. Brats without Borders raises awareness of the culture, contributions and challenges of brats and ‘Third Culture Kids’.”
“An adult military brat is a very unique person, as (he or she) grew up unconventionally… some brats hold dear the [military] and its bases, longing to return ‘home’; others walk away as soon as possible and then stay as far away as possible”-Gene Moser, Army brat and Army veteran.
Army brat Anita Pope says, “I feel like I had the best childhood ever. We grew up with such a diverse group of people over the years; we did not know prejudice. Everyone was treated equally, and we grew to be super flexible people.”
Some Brat Culture:
In March of 1998, another grassroots movement online chose the dandelion as the “Official Military Brat Flower.”
“ The [dandelion] puts down roots almost anywhere. It is almost impossible to get rid of…It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates… This just illustrates my motto, which is ‘bloom where you’re planted’.”–Anne Christopherson
And so the dandelion was adopted. Over the years, dandelions have cropped up on pins, bumper stickers, tee shirts and insignia—instantly identifying military children to each other.
“Children of the world, blown to all corners of the world, we bloom anywhere!”
Purple symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Marine red, and Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force blue. During the month of April, people are encouraged to wear purple to show support to military children.
According to Wikipedia, “the origin of the term ‘military brat’ is unknown. There is some evidence that it dates back hundreds of years into the British Empire, and originally stood for ‘British Regiment Attached Traveler’. However, acronyms are a product of the 20th century and all attempts to trace this theory have failed to find a legitimate source.”
Overseas Brats founder, Joe Condrill, elaborates, “Today’s U.S. military dependents also use: ‘Born, Raised And Trained’; ‘Born, Rough And Tough’, and a number of other explanations.”
No matter where the word originated, many military children have embraced the term, although in recent years, there have been other alternatives proposed.
Misty Corrales, who, along with her husband Jon, created the National Brats Day logo says, “[Some] view it as derogatory or insulting. How can it be when our culture identifies with it and embraces it? At its most basic translation, ‘brat’ merely means ‘child of’. Military brats are children of the military. But we grow up. We’re not always children. And trust me, we’re not spoiled.
“We’re working to gain recognition, not just for the active duty brats, but for veteran brats… We plan to raise $1,500 to have “Brat’s Day’ placed on the National Days Calendar. We’ve claimed April 30 as our day, and we want to make it official.”
In addition to having National Brats Day placed on the National Days Calendar, many people are asking that Congress set aside a day each year as National Military Brats Day, so “Americans can thank these patriots, young and grown, for their dedication and sacrifice in the service of their country.”
For more information on the National Brats Day Initiative, please visit http://MilitaryBratsInc.org.
“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”Posted: April 9, 2016
MAMF Special Projects Writer Caroline LeBlanc is seeking stories for:
“SHOUT: Sharing Our Truth: An Anthology of Writings by LGBT Veterans and Family Members of the U.S. Military Services”
This anthology seeks first-hand experiences—good, bad, and in between—as an LGBT veteran or family member, during and/or after military service. Our goal is to create a book that will allow you to tell parts of your story that will also be helpful for others to read—others who live or want to understand the LGBT veteran experience. The last chapter of the book will list resources available to LGBT veterans.
Do not submit any materials previously published in print or online. Identifying information should be included in the body of the email only.
What Genres to Submit:
Fiction: up to 1200 words.
Non-Fiction (memoir, essays, and other non-fiction): up to 1200 words
Poetry: up to 40 lines.
Reviews: up to 1200 words about a movie, book, music, etc. that you think are important for others to know about.
Resources: submit information on resources you have found particularly helpful. (Name, webpage, telephone number, and services)
You may submit up to 2 pieces in each genre. Each piece must be attached in a separate file. All pieces in a given category must be submitted in the same email. Pieces in separate categories must be submitted in separate emails.
Submissions are accepted between March 20 and June 20, 2016. For more information or for guidelines on how to submit, please visit:
In anticipation of National Military Brat Day, the Museum of the American Military (MAMF) is showcasing Brats through two initiatives.
We’ love your participation in the following:
Send MAMF a postcard with your Brat memory on it. Please write only your first name, your years affiliated, your branch, and a short story or memory.
We will add the postcards to our Brat Display celebrating National Military Brat Day in April. Postcards will be added to the nearly 500 in our collection– they get scanned and posted on our blog and then are stored permanently in our Special Collections Library. We really need more Brat stories represented.
Postcards can be mailed to:
Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center
PO Box 5085
Albuquerque, NM 87185
DANDELION PHOTOS for our Facebook “Garden”:
We would like a photograph of Brats holding a dandelion, real or otherwise. ( We’ve seen postings of paintings and necklaces and beer coasters and pins of dandelions that you guys own, so we’d love to post you with the item) Please send your digital photo with your first name and branch of affiliation to:
These photos will be posted on our FB starting 1 April and going through the 30th. Let’s aim for 100 photos from Brats!
To read the whole press release click National Military Brats Day Press Release
Attention New Mexicans, who are serving in the military, are military veterans, are members of a military family, and would like to write about your experience in that capacity…
Paul Zolbrod, Writer-in-Residence for the Albuquerque-based Museum of the American Military Family is seeking stories for its anthology “From the Front Line to the Home Front: New Mexicans Reflect on War.”
This anthology will include first-hand stories from all perspectives—service members, family members and friends who share their perspectives and experiences. Submissions can be about the recent Middle East campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era or World War II—and everything in between. All branches and ranks of the military should be represented.
How you can contribute:
Your story can be as long or as short as you choose. Just make it heartfelt, honest and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss, stories that demonstrate the warmth and humor of military family life along with its inevitable tensions, offbeat stories that illustrate the variety that accompanies military life in war times–in other words– anything you want to tell of.
You don’t have to consider yourself an accomplished writer to participate. We will provide editorial services to sharpen your contribution.
The book will be arranged by stories of:
- Legacy & Aftermath
For more information or to submit a story, please e-mail Writer-in-Residence Paul Zolbrod at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2016. Tentative publication date is scheduled for the fall. All stories become part of the Museum of the American Military Family Special Collection Library.
by Allen Dale Olson
Some 70 people crowded into the little theater in Albuquerque’s Explora Children’s Museum last November to watch a documentary film about the “Donut Dollies” and interact with a couple of actual “Dollies.” Several hundred other visitors walked around and crawled into a Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department Huey for a first-hand look at one of the helicopters made famous in the Vietnam War and which carried the “Dollies” from one combat zone to another. They also admired a Young Marines Color Guard and enjoyed seeing a few young women re-enacting the pinup girls of the 1960s..
The Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) had partnered with the American Red Cross, the Heels to Combat Boots, and the Explora Museum to honor Veterans Day with a special look back at some remarkable young women through the film A Touch of Home – the Vietnam War’s Red Cross Girls. In the audience were pilots who had flown the Hueys, Vietnam Veterans, and two surviving “Dollies,” one who had served in Korea, the other in Vietnam. Mary Cohoe, from Gallup, NM, delighted the film audience with her comments about her service and about being the only Navajo “Dolly.”
The day-long Explora program was only one of many for MAMF last year. There was a February day in the State Capitol where the Legislature, in a rare act of bipartisanship, passed a Resolution recognizing MAMF and the work it does. MAMF volunteers interacted with hundreds of politicians, legislators, Veterans, and civic leaders that day hosting a booth in the Round House for Veterans Day at the State House. In July they worked another booth during Military Appreciation Day at the State Fair, and in May marched (and rode) in the Memorial Day parade in Bernalillo.
But the biggest achievement of all may very well have been the move into the second floor of the Bataan Military Academy in Albuquerque and establishing a home and a place to show artifacts and host visitors, although on a limited basis. A permanent home was on the agenda throughout the year, and MAMF has become an active participant with the New Mexico National Guard’s quest to expand its museum in Santa Fe and Guard plans to include a MAMF in its expansion. While that step is still a long way off, the opportunity provides incentive to continue the effort. Read the rest of this entry »
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||FOR MORE INFORMATION|
|October 14, 2015||Don Peters II|
Not Forgotten Outreach honors:
NFO brings Military Families together from all over the US for an experience filled with fun activities on & off the Ski Mountains. Making each family feel special and giving them an opportunity to share their feelings about losing something. Hit the slopes for a guaranteed good time with loved ones and friends surrounding you. Not Forgotten Outreach is pleased to provide adaptive inclusive recreation for the Military Family. Military Families will enjoy a day of alpine skiing and snowboarding. It’s a perfect opportunity to improve relationships and at the same time enhance personal well-being. It’s family fun for everyone!
Dates: Taos Ski Valley January 19 -24, 2016
Resort Deals & Discounts: Eligibility: Active Duty, National Guard, Reservist, Veteran, Family members and Gold Star Families and their Families with military ID or other identification
- $25.00 “All Day” lift tickets
- Free Ski/Snowboard Rental Equipment
- Discounted Group Lessons for Adults & Children
- Discounted Child Care @ Taos Ski Valley
- Adaptive Ski Lessons & Adaptive Ski Equipment
- Lodging Discounts https://www.facebook.com/events/1056215734412472/
- Dinner for 250 Military Families
- Live Music & DJ’s
- Non-Ski Events: Snowshoeing, Tubing, Sled Hockey, Yoga, Self Defense
- Free Hot Drinks and Snacks @ the Base
Not Forgotten Outreach cares
Using a volunteer team, Not Forgotten Outreach creates a weekend of events to connect the children and surviving spouses of the fallen, Active Duty & Veterans with others going through the same experience. The Military Families who attend our annual events walk away knowing they are not alone, and that we honor the sacrifice the Military Members made while serving our country. https://www.volunteermatters.net/vm/SelfRegister.do?owner=notforgottenoutreach
About Not Forgotten Outreach, Inc.
Not Forgotten Outreach, Inc. a 501(c)(3) is dedicated to motivating Military, Veterans & their Families and Gold Star families of fallen heroes to participate in recreational and/or therapeutic activities in order to facilitate the healing process. NFO provides opportunities to improve relationships, build comradeship and at the same time enhances “Mindfulness” and personal well-being.
All Not Forgotten Outreach events are alcohol & drug free.