20 important facts about military brats (backed up by research)

In the world of the United States military, April is the “Month of the Military Child.” Military children (aka “Brats”) are a distinct sociological subculture and have been recognized as such for many decades. Children in military families obviously face a lot of challenges their civilian counterparts will never experience. This is not to say that one child is better than another, and while the challenges are important to realize, the resiliency of these children is just as important. Here are some facts and figures about modern military children and who they are likely to grow up to be.

AF Desiree Esposito

US Air Force photo by Desiree Esposito

1. The term “Military Brat” is not intended as derogatory and isn’t just a slang term – Military brat is widely used by researchers and sociologists and was adopted by the military brat community. 

Cecilio Ricardo Jr

US Air Force photo by Cecilio Ricardo Jr.

2. Since 9/11, more than two million military children have had a parent deployed at least once.

3. Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families — on average, every 2 or 3 years.

4. When a parent is stationed without his family, the children of the military member experience the same emotions as children of divorced parents.

5. Children of active duty personnel often mirror the values, ideals, and attitudes of their parents more closely than children of civilians.

6. A high percentage of military children find difficulty connecting with people or places, but very often do form strong connections with bases and military culture.

040601-N-4995T-077 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Jun. 1, 2004) - Battalion Commander Cadet Ensign Melanie Leonard, of Radford High School Junior ROTC, salutes during the parading of the colors ceremony held at the Parchee Memorial Submarine Base at this year's Memorial Day Ceremony. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Victoria A. Tullock (RELEASED)

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Victoria A. Tullock

7. Military children have more emotional struggles when compared with national examples. These struggles increase when the military parent deploys. Military children can also experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and withdrawal.

8. Research has consistently shown military children to be more disciplined than civilian peers.

9. The perception that the country supports the wars their parents deploy to fight has a positive effect on the mental health of military children.

US Army Photo

US Army Photo

10. Military children are usually under constant pressure to conform to what military culture expects; sometimes this is perceived as being more mature, even if its only their outward behavior.

11. Strict discipline can have the opposite effect: children in military families may behave well beyond what is normally acceptable. Some develop psychological problems due to the intense stress of always being on their best behavior.

12. The bonds connecting military communities are normally considered stronger than the differences of race. Military children grow up in a setting that actively condemns racist comments. The result is a culture of anti-racism.

13. In studies, eighty percent of military children claim that they can relate to anyone, regardless of differences such as race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

US Air Force photo by Pablo Jarameza

14. Because military brats are constantly making new friends to replace the ones that they have lost, they are often more outgoing and independent.

15. On the other hand, the experience of being a constant stranger can lead them to feel estranged everywhere, even if later in life they settle down in one place.

16. A typical military school can experience up to 50 percent turnover every year.

17. Grown military children are very monogamous. When they marry, it is generally for life; over two-thirds over age 40 are married to their first spouse.

100606-N-9860Y-002 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (June 6, 2010) Cmdr. Chris Bergen, from Jefferson Township, N.J. executive officer of the Wizards of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133, is greeted by his daughter at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island flight line during a homecoming celebration. The VAQ-133 returned after a six-month deployment supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates/Released)

US Navy photo by Tucker M. Yates

18. Military children have lower delinquency rates, higher achievement scores, and higher median IQs than civilian children.

19. Military children are more likely to have a college degree and are more likely to have an advanced degree.

20 Over 80 percent of children raised in military families now speak at least one language other than English, and 14 percent speak three or more.

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