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Any military brat will recognize right away that this photo was taken on a military base. In this instance the year was 1968 and it was taken at Ft. Campbell KY. Those who have lived and/or worked on military bases would have spotted the army housing and the stickers on the front bumper.

Now that I have my own kids and they ask me stories about when I grew up, I find it difficult to explain my childhood in some ways. It’s so different than their lives. I have started reflecting on those strange and unique things to being a third culture kid.

The other day I had three F-16s buzz my house from the airfield near by. Some people were probably freaked out by it but to me, it’s the sound of my childhood. If I hear a huey helicopter, that sounds like home, being on a military base feels like home- it doesn’t matter which one, they all feel the same. Going to a commissary or a post exchange feels like home too. Even base bowling alleys and cinemas have their own feel.

When people ask me about my life growing up or ask where I’m from I have struggled to answer. There is never a simple answer about my life experiences because there are several layers of background story. Now I just say that I grew up as  a military brat. Other brats understand and there seems to be an instant bond. People who grew up in the same town most of their life or maybe moved to another place once have no idea.

Growing up on a base, everyone lived in the same kind of house, no one was allowed to paint. We got in super huge trouble for breaking the house because it wasn’t our house. Every ones parent had the same job-the military! We all went to the same schools, we went to base chapels and shopped at the same store. Not much was different from household to household. We all went to a huge picnic together each year. All our parents knew whose kid was who’s and there was no getting away with anything. If  you got in trouble, word was back to your parents before you even got home (and that was before facebook, Internet, cell phones or any of that).  Race and status were never an issue, everyone was the same. Religion wasn’t a big deal either.

Lots of people ask me if it was hard to move all the time and go to new schools all the time. It was different for each person in my family but for me, it was a welcome change. I learned how to get along with all sorts of personalities, I learned how to easily make new friends. I didn’t collect a lot of crap because we could only take so much with us. I learned to appreciate all sorts of cultures, in the military, even if you didn’t live in other countries, those countries came to you. So many that were stationed over seas married while they were there and brought their spouses with them. I remember people from Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy and more. I didn’t appreciate the value of that until I was older.

One of the things I always thought was great about moving to a new place was the opportunity to re-invent myself. I didn’t get stuck in a rut. I always looked forward to a new adventure and as an adult I still see life as an adventure, wondering what there is in store for me around the corner. It taught me that life is about change. It doesn’t stay the same and I learned to adapt to any situation that is new to me. It’s important in life to evolve, to become some one better each day.

I always tell any parent who is in the military that being an Army Brat was a huge gift and that I wouldn’t have wanted any other life. I know so many of them wonder and worry what it’s doing to their kids and spouse. It’s enhancing it, it’s a lot of lessons that others don’t get until later in life.

I am proud any time anyone calls me a brat. I am an Army Brat! I always will be.

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