MILITARY BRATS FIGHT FOR THEIR NAME
Military children, young and old, are affectionately known as military brats. It’s a moniker they wear with pride.
So when word got out that a couple of women who wrote a book for elementary-aged children called “Little C.H.A.M.P.S.” were pushing for a name change for military children, Army brats, Navy brats, Air Force brats and Marine brats began speaking up.
‘I was born a Brat in 1975 and also served my country for 10 years. Me and my husband brought 3 more Brats into this world and have never or will never refer to them or ourselves as heroes. Being a Brat is part of my identity,” Christina Galindo wrote in a comment posted last week on Japan.Stripes.com.
Galindo had just read The Northwest Florida Daily News story about co-author Debbie Fink encouraging military children to call themselves C.H.A.M.P.S, or Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel.
“I am a proud Army Brat! My daddy was my hero and died while in service fighting for our freedom in 1990. I am now 28 years old. I am looking forward to eventually seeing him again in heaven after I get there since he died when I was 4 years old,” Ashley Reber wrote in the same thread as Galindo.
These strong, heartfelt feelings from proud brats echoed the sentiments of many in the military community who sounded off on a number of online forums, including Brats without Borders and Military Brat Network.
I’m not a military brat, but I have spent the past 27 years serving in the Department of Defense, 11 of those in the U.S. Navy. I’m very proud to be a part of the military community and will tell you that I believe Little C.H.A.M.P.S. is a wonderful read for our military children. I also believe the authors truly care about military children. In the past couple of years they’ve traveled around the world to visit DOD schools to let military children know how special they are.
But why change the name? This wonderful group of kids, many of them getting up there in age, don’t need a name change. They know who they are.
Noelle Patton knows who she is. She posted this on Okinawa.Stripes.com: “I have always been, and will forever be, an Air Force Brat. The only hero is my father, Major Kenneth D Thomas, Jr USAF KIA, Panel 7E, line 31…”
On Thanksgiving Day, I tossed the football around on Yokota Air Base with my 12-year-old son and Tommy Stief, a 19-year-old sailor serving on the 7th Fleet staff aboard the USS Blue Ridge. Tommy’s Dad and I served together on 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, in the early 1990s. My wife was the first to hold Tommy when he was born at the hospital at Yokota. When he arrived in Japan last March, we were there to greet him. He’s a good kid. A good sailor.
As we were throwing the ball, I asked Tommy about his feelings of being a labeled a “military brat.” He just smiled and said matter-of-factly, “I am a military brat. I followed my Dad and Mom all around the world. And now I get the chance to travel around the world. I’m just like my Dad.”
He is just like his dad. And there are many others like him who follow in the footsteps of their military parents. Is military life for everyone? No, it’s not. But I can tell you there are hundreds of thousands of people who are proud of who they are. Just don’t call them heroes. Call them what they are: Military Brats.
We are . . . Military Brats!
The Military Child Education Coalition posted this on their Facebook page Nov. 27:
An open letter to the BRATS community:
We hear you. After careful consideration, we are withdrawing our support from The Little Champs program. We endorsed the book because we believe it celebrated the strength of our children and encouraged growth after more than a decade of war. In 2011, we made a one-time purchase of 500 books, the balance of which will be removed from inventory and discarded at the end of the year. These books were never used as curriculum or training resources in any of our initiatives. MCEC never contributed to or sponsored the Little Champs tours.
Teachers, Veterans, grown-up military kids, military spouses, parents of service members, and caring civilians make up the staff at MCEC. While we may not use the term “brat” in our literature, we understand and respect the importance of the name to those who grew up in a military family and the traditional pride associated with this term of endearment –many of our staff share that rich experience.
This is an important dialog among people who care deeply about military families.
- Karen Kocik
Thank you for this article. I was born a Brat in 1975 and also served my country for 10 years. Me and my husband brought 3 more Brats into this world and have never or will never refer to them or ourselves as heroes.
Being a Brat is part of my identity, it has a history and it’s what links all us military, DoD, civilian, and contractor Brats together. To call us and our children champs is as silly as saying, “hey let’s call the earth, big round thingy”.
If the Finks are trying to bridge the gap between those affiliated with the military community and those who don’t understand the life we live, then they need to do so by touring the public schools to educate and not just target the DODEA schools who already know the challenges. These Brats are smart and they know where they come from. Being a Brat is an honor and not something that needs to be changed.
- Christina Galindo
Thank You! I am a proud Army Brat! My daddy was my hero and died while in service fighting for our freedom in 1990. I am now 28 years old. I am looking forward to eventually seeing him again in heaven after I get there since he died when I was 4 years old.
- Ashley Reber
I have always been, and will forever be, an Air Force Brat. The only hero is my father, Major Kenneth D Thomas, Jr USAF KIA, Panel 7E, line 31…
- WmNoelle Patton
Thank you for giving our story a voice. Army BRAT here. My daddy was my hero I am not nor have ever been one. I do not refer to my parents as Personnel. I was born a BRAT, have identified myself as a BRAT even after my daddy retired. I will be a BRAT until we are reunited in heaven.
Proud Army BRAT and an AF veteran. But a BRAT forever. Thank you for sharing.
- Laura Marbut Applegarth Robert
Thank you helping to get the word out. Born a BRAT, followed my dad all over the world, but he was the hero, not me. I am very Proud To wear the title of MILITARY BRAT even at 61. We will win this fight!
- Cathy Smith Caldwell Talvan
Brilliant Resourceful Adventurous Traveler ... that is what BRATS are!!! Leave our name alone.... get those non BRATS... those non military writers and agency heads and the USO out of the mix... BRATs are called BRATS by choice...
- Le Shelley
Need I say anything else?
- Anton Ross
Brat is a term of endearment and I don’t think it represents anything other than what it is.
The word brat is a sort of a slur, self-applied like a badge of courage, by all the children of military families as far back as I can remember. It doesn’t need to be analyzed, studied poked or prodded and trading in an endeared term for some manufactured acronym is utter tripe.
I encourage every brat and military parent to resist this nonsense. I, nor my 3 children, will ever be … “little champs.”
Navy BRAT and father of 3 Air Force BRATS.
- RJ Bare
A for-profit group trying to change the name so their trademarked moniker can bring them cash flow. They aren’t even part of a military family in even the remotest sense so they have no business trying to create heroes where there aren’t any.
Using the term “HERO” in this sense greatly diminishes the understanding of what a real hero is. Can you imagine an indoctrinated CHAMP coming back from overseas, going into a new state-side school and saying “hey kids, I’m an HERO, honor me”.
Someone’s gonna get their butt kicked!! It’s already hard enough to merge into mainstream life as it is. You can just shrug and say, hey “I’m a military brat” but, criminey, not a “child hero”.
- Karen Kocik
Thank you for giving us a voice. Proud BRAT (Go ARMY)
I was born and raised an ARMY BRAT and will be forever! I am not a hero as the name champ suggests. That title belongs to my father and all those that wear the uniform. I served alongside my dad as a proud family member and ALWAYS did what was expected of me. I resent that our name, that has been around since I can remember (I’m 63), is being changed.
I moved, went to different schools and was away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. I lived in different countries, experienced different cultures and even lived on a farm in Germany that only had an outhouse (1953). Our second tour we lived in a small inn, for a month, and shared a bathroom with everyone on the floor. My father had solo tours and fought in Vietnam while we and all of America watched on TV. None of that entitles me to be called a hero I was just doing my job.
I have been an Air Force wife for 34 years and am proud of my service alongside my husband and my dad. My experiences made me who I am today and built character that all BRATS have and can relate too. Unless you have walked in the shoes of a BRAT you cannot begin to comprehend and never will. We have a bond that is totally unique and one that can never be broken.
I AM A BRAT NOT A champ!!!! Calling a child a hero is going to cause many problems. They are going to feel that they have to be better and being called that will get them teased and bullied.
- Susan S. Rollins
The name simply is not hers to change.
- Jia De Carroll
I was on the “Rock” for two years. That was 50 years ago. Growing up and even now I was and still revere being a “Military Brat”.
Thank you for bringing attention to this situation. As BRATs, we have sacrificed more than many but not consider ourselves heroes. Heroes are those that have served. Why do individuals think they can rebrand us? We a proud community not a commodity. Thanks for being my link “to the land of the big PX” while we were stationed overseas!
- Janet Hardy Jones
Civilians need not bother trespassing on territory that doesn’t belong to them, to make the world ‘politically correct’! … Shameful! As a proud BRAT, and speaking for thousands of others, we don’t need to be rebranded because an ‘outsider’ doesn’t like our name! Thank you Stars and Stripes!
- Alisa Allan
They claim that BRAT is a derogatory title that needs to be overthrown and that C.H.A.M.P. (Child Hero Attached to Military Personnel) is more acceptable. We as a community, beg to differ. I am honored to be an Army BRAT. The Finks are not military brats, nor have they served in the military. While we support the idea that military children need a strong support system and more understanding, to completely change what we are called (into a name the publishing company they own holds the registered trademark on and profit off of) is not okay. Perhaps what the Fink’s should have done was focus on educating through their book about the honor, integrity and values that we as BRAT’s are taught and what the title BRAT really stands for.
BRATs know it as:
~ Boldness - To bravely go where others dare not.
~ Responsibility - to live in service and honor of God, Family and Country.
~ Adaptability - to be at home anywhere.
~ Tolerance - to love and respect all mankind.
We are not Heroes...our parents who serve are the heroes. We are united by our upbringing and we are a family that shares a bond that no one that has not experienced living this life could fathom. We bleed RED, WHITE & BLUE...and we love this country and all that it stands for. Being a hero is something that one earns. It is a title of respect and honor.To label a child who is a military dependent a hero, has the potential of a two-fold repercussion. The first being that it dilutes and makes the word hero something that is common place instead of someone to be respected, revered and looked up to. The second is that it fosters yet another layer of entitlement and ego driven separation.
Below are a couple of links to a news releases and the conversation on USAA’s website that deal with this issue:
Please support us in bringing more awareness to this issue and help us to insure that all BRAT’s understand that they are part of an extended family that has a legacy and heritage that is 100’s of years strong
Thank You Okinawa Stars and Stripes for helping us get the word out!! A Proud Military BRAT. Bold Responsible Adaptable and Tolerant!!
- Eve Chavez-Bangert