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Canadian Military Brat

by Brandi U.

Being a base brat had many hard times, but many benefits as well. I moved 9 times in my childhood and went to 9 different schools. My education was all over the board which only really showed up for me when I went to college.

My parents had multiple affairs that led to their separation when I was nine. I went to live with my Dad which had its own issues. The military was not set up for single parent families. The men would go on courses away for months sometimes. I was the oldest which meant that I had to take care of a lot of household stuff like making food, laundry, cleaning and watching my younger sister and brother. When Dad was on a course my elderly grandmother would watch us, which was not a lot of supervision. I would run a bit wild in those days.

The other big issue the military presented was an environment that bred alcoholism. As a recruit you were required to drink at mess dinners and all celebrations were alcohol related. My father became an alcoholic when I was really young. He was functional but it did end in me becoming a codependent as I got older. I had to attend groups to understand and undo some of the issues that come from being a child of an alcoholic and dysfunctional parent.

I also had to do work on the abandonment of my mother. My dad left for six months, (before the internet and Skype), on a course called the “marriage breaker,” which proved to be the final straw that broke my parent’s marriage. They both engaged in other relationships and my mother left my father when he came home from it.

Some of the good things about being a base brat is I learned very quickly how to meet people. I also knew at least one person everywhere we went. It changed how kids related to people. We learned how to make strong connections quickly. Another huge benefit was the trips we got to take. I got to travel through Europe when I was seven because we were posted to Germany. I also got to travel through most of the States and Canada because when we got posted the military gave us the option of how to travel. My Dad would always pick car so we could have a really long vacation. We slept in some great hotels and saw many U.S. landmarks. It was a great experience. His DND card made things easier. He got a lot of military discounts and we were able to go to the base hospitals for free.

I wouldn’t change my childhood but I also wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am glad some of the policies have changed to help the military kids find some more stability. It was not easy for kids only ever having half a family when the men, ( or in some cases women), were sent away. But I am glad I got to be part of a beautiful community of people that always had your back.

I was a Military Brat

Military life! Military brats! That was our life. I don’t think people are aware of the impact that being raised in the military has on children. We moved more times than I can count. I am a very personable person, when I make friends with someone I actually leave a piece of my heart with them. I can’t tell you if being in the military and missing out is why I do that or that’s how I was designed & my insecurities are byproduct of leaving everyone that I ever made friends with. But, one thing I do know is I was totally messed up. I have actually tried to run away from home at a very young age. Now that I think about it, maybe I wasn’t running away from home but running to find stability.

Don’t get me wrong I am very proud of my Dad for serving his country & providing for his family, but military children’s foundation is unstable. We actually lose a part of our identity every time we are told get packing, “Daddy has received his orders to move to”… most military kids have or had addictive behaviors, as a means of something they can control. Whether it’d be drugs, alcohol, relationships, promiscuities, over-achieving, withdrawing, or all of it. This is my story! I have had relationship problems thinking if I give my whole heart they’re going to leave, or I was going to, so I would sabotage my relationship.

When I was about 15 yrs. old I said no more, that’s it I’m done. I ran away for the last time. Eventually I was caught by the police and placed in a detention center. During this time Dad got orders to go to the Philippines and I told the courts that I’m not going, so the judge made me the ward of the state and eventually I got emancipated at the age of 16. So I have been an adult since I was 16. I am 57 now & through JESUS CHRIST I am working through my insecurities, neediness & all other quirks I have developed over my life. But I am really tired! My heart skips several beats when most of my cousins talk about their life with Gramma or each other, people posting on Facebook of their school reunions (past friends/acquaintances I have met in these days are no longer in my memory). As military children we sometimes end up distant from our own parents & siblings. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 15 years & it had been over 30 years before I saw my brother & sister again. Breaks my heart to see & hear of sibling relationships, because I wanted that so badly. I do believe our lives would have been very different if we would have stayed in one place growing up. But apparently it wasn’t GOD’s plan for us. Would I be as strong? Maybe not! I have no regrets because my life in the military has made me the women I am today.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story, it shined another beautiful light in my life! Thank you Daddy, for loving & serving our country!