I spent my childhood moving from one military base to another. The biggest shock of my life happened in the ninth grade, when my dad retired from the Army. All of the sudden I was surrounded by civilians who had no clue what my life was like.
It was a hard transition to a “normal” high school. Then a magical thing happened: I met another military brat.
There were a few in my high school and we bonded immediately. Why? Let’s just say there are some things that we military brats understand no matter what branch of the armed forces our parents served.
1. Calling everyone by their last name
Seriously, I didn’t know anyone’s parent’s first name. The last name reference extended to friends too — even if you were only 10.
2. You know your military parent’s SSN
In the military, the only identity you have is your sponsor’s (aka, Mom or Dad) Social Security Number. Your name or date of birth didn’t matter, just your sponsor’s SSN. I still know my dad’s.
3. You went to at least half a dozen schools
Since I rarely lived in one place for more than two to three years, I went to six different schools from before high school.
4. You still expect to pledge the flag before a movie
If you caught a movie on base, you knew the drill. Before the previews, we had to pay tribute to America. The first time I went to a movie in the States, I was completely baffled that the movie didn’t begin with a waving flag and the Star Spangled Banner.
5. If I say “Reveille,” “Retreat” or “Taps,” you know what I’m talking about
If you hear the “Retreat” bugles, it doesn’t matter if you’re driving, talking or eating. You literally stop and face the good ol’ American flag until the music stops.
6. You know the phonetic alphabet
If you know what this says: Whiskey Hotel Alpha Tango Sierra Uniform Papa, then you are a military brat.
7. You had an ID way before you could drive
You didn’t have a student ID, just a military one. It was your pass to get on base and into the commissary and PX. It was also your health insurance card.
8. Your clock is a little different
School didn’t end at 3 p.m.; it ended at 1500.
9. When someone asks you where you are from, it’s not a short answer
Every time someone asks me where I’m from, it takes me about 10 minutes to answer. It starts off with where I was born, then I list at least a dozen places where I lived.
10. You always make immediate friends with other military brats
We military brats stick together like glue. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, your religion or your political affiliation. If you are a military brat, we will be best friends.