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.
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 »
The MAMF Family is growing as we add three new members to our team. Here is a little about them:
Writer in Residence Paul Zolbrod says his military service made it possible for him to attend college, which is why he considers his induction the pivotal event in his adult life. Drafted into the army in early 1953 during the Korean War, he served in Tokyo following infantry basic training, then enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh on the Korean G.I. Bill after his discharge and went on to get a PhD. in English in 1967. By then he had already joined the faculty of Allegheny College where he remained as Professor of English for thirty years. Following his retirement to Albuquerque 1964, he taught writing at the Crownpoint, NM campus of the Navajo Nation’s Dine’ College. He is the author of a number of books and essays, most notably Dine’ bahane: The Navajo Creation Story, and especially, Battle Songs: A Story of the Korean War in Four Movements,” which reflects his abiding interest in that conflict. In writing that novel, he credits the research skills he acquired during the early phase of his scholarly career for boosting that work’s authenticity. Ever since its publication Paul has maintained a deep interest in veterans affairs. Likewise, his Reservation experience has made him aware of the impact of PTSD among Navajo veterans on family life
Mark John Gurule, Musician-in-Residence, is an Army Veteran who served overseas in Afghanistan in 2013. After being injured while deployed, Mark revisited his childhood passion of singing and making music. Now performing under the artist name- Lethal, he has built a team called “The Battalion” which performs in shows sharing testimony through music about his experiences in the military and at war. He has performed with various artists in the music industry such as Mike Jones and Stevie Stone with Strange Music. The Battalion does Rap, R&B, and Dubstep music, reaching the younger generation.
He is the “music ambassador” for the Museum of the American Military Family in Albuquerque, NM.
His team travels to different states, performing for various organizations and school groups, and reaching out to other veterans who have PTSD. Lethal states, “writing and music has helped me deal with my PTSD tremendously and would I love to counsel other Veterans dealing with the same issues through music!”
Jan Miller-Waugh, Webmistress and on-line shop manager can trace her military roots back to the American Revolution. She has one son currently serving in the Air Force; another served in the Marines and is a Federal employee. She has belonged to the Blue Star Mothers – Rio Grande Valley Chapter 2- since 2008. As a Blue Star Mother, she has served on the Executive Board, has been the BSM-Air Force Coordinator, and has also chaired the 10th Anniversary 9/11 Run/Walk/Ride in Albuquerque. Jan is a Mission Liaison with the Patriot Guard Riders. The founder and administrator of the RFTW New Mexico Facebook group, she is an active participant with the Run For the Wall, and has served as a Road Guard, a Tailgunner and part of the Staging Team. Her passion for assisting active duty service members and veterans is evidenced in her fundraising and/or writing efforts for the Wounded Warrior Project, New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. She is the secretary and webmaster for Vet Riders for Wounded Warriors. Her expertise in Corporate and Government retail sales and IT and her networking skills are a perfect fit for MAMF.
Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories for Military Families Who Were Stationed AbroadPosted: July 28, 2015
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Dr. Allen Dale OlsonPhone 505-400-3849 email@example.com|
Exhibit on Department of Defense Schools Worldwide Brings Back Memories
for Military Families Who Were Stationed Abroad
ALBUQUERQUE, NM, July 27, 2015—A special exhibit at the Special Collections Library’s Botts Hall chronicles the experiences of families who were based in locations around the world: Military families whose children might attend five or more schools by the time they graduated from high school.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam,” is focused on the history of the 181 schools for military dependents located in the U.S. Spread from the Far and Middle East to Western Europe. Self-titled “Military BRATS,” the children of military families, from lowest to highest ranks, attend Department of Defense Education Agency Schools and build strong ties and cherished memories through their varied experiences.
|The exhibit features comments from dozens of students, teachers and parents remarking on their experiences during various tours of duty—which involved the whole family. “Together We Serve” is the tagline of the Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center, an organization whose mission is to bring together people with shared experiences showcasing and honoring those who also served–America’s Military Families. Artifacts from school experiences provided by those who attended or taught at DODEA schools bring the story home to the many retired military and BRATS who live in our area, as well as those who did not serve in the military, but want to learn more about the experience of those who do.|
The new exhibit includes detailed information about the history and growth of the schools, anecdotes from students who attended them, and a host of artifacts that include: a 1948 report card; teachers’ guides; books on learning to speak, write and sing in the language of their new home; school flags and pennants; posters; school photos; yearbooks; athletic jackets and trophies; a high school diploma; a bison head that was worn by the varsity mascot at the Mannheim, Germany high school; a statement from General Colin Powell, US Army, Ret.; and much more. Many of the artifacts in the exhibit are provided by the American Overseas Schools Historical Society (AOSHS), based in Wichita, Kansas.
“Schooling with Uncle Sam” is free to the public and available at the Special Collections Library, 423 Central Avenue NE (corner of Central and Edith). The library is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, except for Thursdays, when it opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Please stop by and learn more about how children of military families received excellent education in places around the world thanks to “Uncle Sam.” To access the exhibit, please check in at the library’s Information Desk. The exhibition closes on August 22.
The Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center (MAMF) collects and preserves the stories, experiences, documents, photos, and artifacts of the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, spouses, siblings, and others who have loved and supported a member of America’s military services from Revolutionary War times to modern times. MAMF is an all-volunteer not-for-profit online entity in quest of a permanent home in Albuquerque and is launching a capital campaign to support that quest.
# # #
By Museum of the American Military Family
At an Albuquerque press conference on June 29, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez said that “half-a-million more visitors came to New Mexico in 2014 than in 2013” and that all-in-all, the state counted “32.7 million travelers last year.”
Following her presentation, MAMF Secretary for Public Affairs – Ole – had five minutes of one-on-one conversation with the Governor who was pleased and impressed that a MAMF exhibit had attracted 20,000 visitors in 2014. “You’re doing your share,” she told Ole.
Ole was able to tell her about MAMF and the upcoming exhibition, “Schooling with Uncle Sam,” and she said she would look forward to an invitation. When she told Ole she would plan a visit to the museum, he explained that we are in search of a home and are close to finding a semi-permanent place – and added that “we could use some help.” He gave her a MAMF brochure and told her that MAMF had received some comments from General Colin Powell and a letter of encouragement from Jill Biden.
Ole was also able to spend time with the Tourism Department Communications Director, Heather Bricanti, to tell her about MAMF and its programs. As the conference broke up, Ole gave a MAMF brochure to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Latham and told her he would like to come talk with her sometime soon.
Latham had told the group that the New Mexico True Campaign promises tourists that they will have experiences “steeped in culture” when visiting the state. Both she and the Governor stressed that tourism initiatives were also focusing on attracting more state residents to travel within New Mexico.
The Governor said she was proud to announce that this was the “third year in a row for record-breaking tourism growth for New Mexico.”