Nearly 29 years ago, I was born in a hospital on Shaw Air Force Base and started my journey as a military brat. For the next 18 years, I was dragged (sometimes kicking and screaming), through the military lifestyle from one side of the world to the other and back again. Plus, a couple of moves here and there stateside.
At the time, I thought military life was tiring, stressful and sad, especially for the “see you laters” when the military would send my dad away. But, I’ve come to realize that the experience made me value every little thing and embrace the lifestyle as a military spouse.
Besides being moved here, there and everywhere, there are a handful of unique qualities that military kids share.
You know you’re a military kid when…
- You don’t know how to answer, where are you from? Yes, I was born in South Carolina, but PCSed to the Philippines when I was 2 months old. And let’s not get me started on all the other moves afterward. Answering where are you from becomes a huge and elaborate monologue. Now, I just say Texas. That’s where my parents are and that’s where I graduated high school. Good for me.
- You have friends and family all over the world. With each move, our family grew. It’s so wonderful to have people that are from and live in so many different parts of the world. It gives the opportunity to learn from so many different cultures and traditions. And that brings me to my next point…
- You love adventure! I like to think that being a military kid gave me wanderlust. I desire and enjoy exploring and seeing new places and things. The military kind of forces adventure on you, but at the end of the day, despite how scary it can be, military life is also thrilling. Once my father retired, we still visited installations around the United States and managed to vacation at some awesome hotspots.
- You have a strong sense of pride. When my family settled in Texas, I attended a civilian school because we lived about 20 miles from base. It wasn’t a common occurrence to have military kids in your classroom. I was very proud and still am about my dad’s service and my mom’s support. They both are wonderful role models to me and I look forward to them being strong role models for my own military kids, when the time comes. The pride overflows to the whole military community too. Even before I met my husband, I always had that respect for men and women in uniform.
- You can “go with the flow” better than your civilian counterpart. Change is difficult. But, resilience is one of the strongest virtues of military kids. We’re young, adaptable and understanding (for the most part…). And because we have to, we learn to go on and appreciate what we have and love it.
- You LOVE (or in my case, loved) Take Your Kids to Work day! I know this depends on your school district, but when I was a kiddo, I loved going to my dad’s work! We got to see fighter planes in action and pretended to be a part of briefings, not to mention walk on the tarmac. How cool was that? Sorry Mom, accounting wasn’t nearly as fun.
- You own a wardrobe for every climate (or it’s a work in progress). Down coat, check! Galoshes, check! Board shorts, check! Tank top, check! Before we moved to Texas, we were in Utah, where the snow would exceed my height. My parents made sure to keep everything (within reason) that would benefit another move to the cold. You never know!
- You think homecomings are the best thing ever. I don’t know about you, but I think homecomings are awesome times a thousand. No matter what, who, when, where…even if it’s just with friends you haven’t seen in awhile. There is just something beautiful and perfect about seeing a loved one after an extended amount of time. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.