Military brat, what it means to me
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- So where are you from?
I dread hearing this question when I first meet someone.
My reply is, "Well I was born in Pittsburgh, but then we moved to Italy, then Pennsylvania for a while, and then we finally settled down in Baltimore."
Normally, I receive a blank look.
My final response, "I'm a military brat."
What does it mean to be a military brat? Being a military brat or military child means I moved around for most of my childhood, went to many different schools and had to make new friends every couple of years. I saw my dad in his Air Force blues almost every day and didn't blink an eye. It was the only lifestyle I knew.
Of course as a child, I had absolutely no clue what my dad really did or understood anything about the military. I even remember a day when my dad took me and my sister to his office when we were little and introduced us to the chief he worked with. Both my sister and I renamed him "Colonel Cheese" since chief sounded so much like cheese.
I was that oblivious about military life until the day my dad retired. In the military, you have this instant bond with everyone because everyone goes through similar situations. It creates a family bond that is truly rare to find in the civilian world.
Following my dad's retirement, we moved to Baltimore and had to adjust to living next to people we barely knew, shopping in a regular grocery store and living in the same house for more than two years.
Today, I am an officer in the United States Air Force but I will always identify myself as a military brat. When I see young children playing on a play set or walking around the Exchange, it brings back so many memories. Especially those of my sister and I with our "military brat" friends who we bonded with instantly but had to learn how to say goodbye just as quickly.
So when you see the children roaming around Osan, give them a second glance and try to really appreciate what it means for them to be a military child... someone at a very young age that has to learn to adjust to many different situations. They are as much a part of the military as their parents or even "Colonel Cheese".