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Growing up as a military brat is very hard as a child and as a teenager — I didn't see the benefits of my upbringing until I was older.
I don't think most Americans grasp the sacrifices military families make when one is serving. Wives suffer hardships, since they have to raise a family and keep a home while their partners are deployed. My mother was very important in my life, because my father served for 33 years in the Army. I really didn't get to know him until I was a teenager, and by then, I was not ready to follow his rules, since he was away so much throughout my life.
I attended Catholic and public schools growing up, moved five times as a dependent (that is what military brats are officially called.) I attended three different elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. I even lived in Korea and Kwajalein (that's a island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.)
Despite being constantly on the run, I had a fun childhood. It is really interesting to live on a military base when you are young. I met people from all around the world. From Germany, to Korea, to Turkey, I was able to see how other people lived, and I realized at a very young age how lucky I was to have a dad in the military. I was proud at an early age to be an American, especially when I lived abroad. I knew I could always return home to the U.S. whenever I wanted. Not everyone had that benefit. So many kids I met would have given anything to come to America. The American flag took on a really special meaning when I was living in foreign countries. I still smile every time I see the flag; it’s so beautiful.
Today, military brats have it easier than when I was growing up. The military pay is a little better, and the rules have changed for types of housing and the locations a family can get stationed at. I followed my father’s footsteps and have served in the Army for 26 years. While I was deployed, my kids stayed in the U.S. — but this was a decision my wife and I made together. My father never had that choice, and was gone for most of his time in the military.
I grew up knowing that a life in the military was an honorable one, and that is why I chose it as my career. My son has followed my footsteps and is in the Air Force.
I remember once when my father was having a social gathering at his house for his boss and some friends prior to his retirement. I was asked to play bartender — I was 16-years-old — and I was enjoying making the drinks, because I was adding a little extra on each drink. I got all of the
wives drunk! The next day, I went to the official award ceremony for my father and saw that the wives were still hung over. But, I soon realized who their husbands were: Vice Chief of Staff for the Army, Under Secretary for the Army, and a couple of 3-stars. Man, my dad was really mad at me, but he did laugh after the event was over.
Well I could go for hours, thank you FOX for remembering the military brats.
• Are you a military child? Click over for some tips on facing deployment.