Recognition for the Service and Sacrifices of Military ‘Brats’

Cowboy outfits from the 1950sIn Dec. 2009, I began reading “Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress,” by Mary Edwards Wertsch, again.  I say ‘again’ as I had attempted to read it several times before, and kept getting stuck in Pat Conroy’s Introduction – my eyes often clouded with tears.

This time I was bound and determined to get further; but in the end, I was unable to.  When I got to the part where Conroy talks about a parade, and mentions, “…they would thank us for the first time,” the tears returned.  Then I thought to myself, “Beyond our fathers recognizing and thanking us for ‘our service,’ why hasn’t America – the nation we served – ever recognized our sacrifices and service?”

And the wheels were set in motion…

I fired off an email to my U.S. Representative suggesting he introduce legislation for a Congressional medal, recognizing the service and sacrifices of military brats.  Five hours later, I received a call from one of his “horse holders” (staff) wanting to know more about my idea.  As I further explained it, I discovered I was actually talking to an Army Brat!  He knew of what I spoke, and liked the concept.

After numerous emails and phone conversations, Congressman Bob Latta (R, Ohio’s 5th District) introduced legislation to recognize the dependent children of military service members through the presentation of an official lapel button.  (They dropped the term “Military Brats.”  They didn’t want to offend anyone.  As an Air Force ‘Brat,’ I have certainly been called worse!) 

This is his first bill: .
It made it as far as “committee,” then died along with the 111st Congress.  The official explanation was that “we already had recognition.”  Oh yeah?  Where?  (We don’t.)

So I asked Congressman Latta to reintroduce the bill.  He did on 10 March 2011 as H.R. 1014:
It now languishes “in committee.”

This is a simple proposal – a win-win-win proposal: a win for our kids, a win for our nation, and of course, a win for our politicians.  The way the bill is structured, the cost of the pins won’t contribute in any way to the national deficit.  Parents (and others) will purchase and present them to kids who have been ‘brats.’   When this bill becomes law however, I will never allow some deserving kid to go without a pin even if I have to spend my last nickel!  But I digress…

When the bill became ‘rat-holed’ again this year, I almost gave up.  Then I discovered the 112th Congress passed legislation to remove sodomy and bestiality from the Uniform Code of Military Justice  (To be ‘fair and balanced,’ they later dropped the initiative to amend the UCMJ), and, in another piece of legislation, authorized the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  YGBSM!  This lunacy has just emboldened me to press on!

Our Congress has, at one time or another, recognized almost everyone else on the planet.  Why not Military Brats?  Pat Conroy makes several other very poignant points in his Introduction, among them:

“We grew up strangers to ourselves,”
“Our greatest tragedy is that we don’t know each other.”

Imagine what a simple lapel pin could do for us? 

When I see deployments today, when I see funeral services today, when I see returning troops today – I tend to focus on the kids; often the kids in the background, silently serving.  I know them.  I ‘was there,’ a long time ago.  Then I see the politicians glad-handing everyone around them, often ‘capitalizing’ on those same kids.  So I wonder; why can’t they get off their asses, and pass ‘our’ bill?  It’s not like they are accomplishing anything else …     

Imagining the Future
I envision military service members calling their kids together and handing each one of them a Congressional Lapel Pin as a token of appreciation.  It’s a small acknowledgement from both the service members and our Nation.  Commanding officers might use the pins to honor a child, or a grandparent might give a pin as special recognition when mom or dad is deployed.  Even politicians might make presentations when ‘brats’ visit their offices or participate in special programs.

I also hope to see the day when two “strangers” instantly recognize each other through the lapel pins they are wearing.  The pins will ignite new friendships through “chatter,” because of a common heritage – Were you Army?  Navy?  Air Force?  Marines?  Coast Guard?  Where were you?  When?  Did you know… and so forth …

Maybe, someday; hopefully, soon …

What can you do?  Write, call or email your US Representative and/or Senator and ask him/her to support H.R. 1014… Thank you!

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7 Responses to Recognition for the Service and Sacrifices of Military ‘Brats’

  1. Rick Hassler says:

    I agree wholeheartedly…as a proud Air Force Brat ( and no, I am NOT offended by the term “brat”), I agree that there should be some form of official recognition. The children of military members sacrifice a normal childhood because of their parent’s service to our nation. The trouble is, only a fellow brat understands. For better or worse, the experience shapes and forms you in ways that someone who has always lived in the same place will never understand.

  2. Marci (Buday) Jenkins says:

    I have always felt that we “served” with our Fathers, as did our Mothers. I use Father and Mother this way because many, many years ago that was the norm. I understand that today’s “brats” are sacrificing more in many ways but also are somewhat more protected than my generation. Our Mother’s traveled around the world, many times alone with their children, in my Mother’s case, pregnant as well. We went to places that were barely safe. We lived with the knowledge that anything we did directly affected our Father’s career. We knew how to strip and clean our quarters for the white glove inspection. We gave away or threw away precious items because of travel. We gained and lost friends. Having lived both in the civilian world (schools) and military, I can tell you that I never felt at home in the civilian schools or with the civilian community.

    Thankfully, I was a brat after WWII and my father never deployed. The children living the fear of losing a parent and the separation are serving their country by sacrifice. We who moved to less than safe places in the world, served. I have always felt that way, always will no matter how the rest of the world feels or acts. WE know.

    • Cheeta17 says:


      Oh, how I know of what you speak! Mom drove from Selfridge AFB, MI to Lebanon,OR in 1952 with me, my brother and my 6-week old sister. Her only adult companion was a 19-yr old girl, looking for a ride. How did she do it?

      On another note, I KNEW my father, Dear Ole Dad, wouldn’t make major if I screwed up….

      Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Cynthia says:

    I am an (adult) Air Force Brat who will never be offended by the term. I would love a way to recognize fellow brats. Whenever things got tough–particularly during my dad’s two deployments, when I had to go to “civilian” schools, with people who didn’t have any idea what the life was like–my mother always said, “They also serve who pack and move…or stay behind.” We did serve and I will always be proud of my dad and my family.

  4. Canary Alice says:

    I also own this book and posted a question about it at

    another military brat, Alice

  5. Stephanie Swan says:

    In a way I agree. But I don’t need a pin or a medal. I lived my life with so many Army Brats. We loved each other the firs moment we saw each other and hold each other tight 26+ years later. What a great gift we were given, the opportunity of travel, learning new cultures and meeting new people. Yes it was hard when my Daddy deployed and I was a lucky one that he always returned. But you know what he taught me? At the age of 5, I remember the music what ever time of day, I faced the music, I held my head high, I put my hand over my heart, was proud to be a child of the USA, my country, my Flag and what our country stands for. I thanked God and our troops that my Daddy and Mommy served the US Military.

    Yes, it was sad we left dear friends behind, but did you ever think that is what makes us strong? Today UNITED we stand as BRATS and not as strangers, but those who hold a name and a heritage we are so proud of, we would never change who we are. Why would you?

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