Having grown up as a Navy brat with a dad who deployed for most of my childhood, I get teary-eyed whenever I see it happen to other kids. It brings back all the sadness of watching my dad climb the steps of whatever ship and disappear over the horizon for months at time, missing every life event from the loss of my first tooth to my last father-daughter dance. Every time I hear a story about a kid who misses his or her parent when they are deployed, it cuts me deep.
I was 6 years old when my dad got orders to transfer to Naval Station Norfolk and deploy with the USS Shreveport. So in 1997, we packed up our base house in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and moved to a small, three-bedroom house in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Pablo Jara Meza
Military brats live in an ambiguous subculture that blends the lifestyle of a service member and a civilian. It includes repeated relocations, forced road trips, and strange habits, like calling everyone your age or older “ma’am” or “sir,” that are hard to understand unless you’ve lived it.
Millions of Americans grew up with a close relative in the military; for many, whom we’ve come to affectionately know as “military brats,” that close relative was a mom or dad. These military brats exist in every part of our society, including perhaps the most competitive portion of it — professional sports.