By Cody Soto
Growing up as an Army brat, I didn’t have a normal childhood. Our family tables were often missing one person, moving was a constant hassle, and most importantly, schools and friendships were a come-and-go situation. This is the case for many children of a military parent or parents. Never feeling settled in one spot can overshadow what could be a great story for the entire family.
However, it could also change military brats and mold them into more powerful and stronger people than anyone could imagine. With the experiences that I’ve had, I believe that military children are among the strongest people in America, both mentally and spiritually.
Military brats are receptive to whatever life throws at them. Oftentimes, a parent in the military could be gone for six to eight months at a time, and that’s especially difficult for younger children. Growing up without one or even both parents is difficult for children because they are not able to develop that parental relationship compared to a “normal” family. They learn to appreciate family values and rely on their siblings and other family members to care for and watch after them. My father was deployed to South Korea when I was 3 months old, and my mom took care of me pretty much on her own. It’s hard to see all the video tapes that my mom sent my dad when he was stationed overseas. Those videotapes serve as a reminder of the sacrifices she made when she was the only one here for me.
I learned to look up to my dad for his service, and he provided me with a lot of the values that I have today. He always told me that we may not always want to do something, but if it’s for the benefit of yourself and your country, then it’s worth it. Seeing him give up his life, not only for my family, but also for our country was inspiring.
Military brats are also so used to moving around that switching schools and making new friends becomes some sort of hobby. I went to six different schools before college, and I made many new friends at every school. I still speak with some of them today.
Military brats are stationed on a military base with other military families in the same boat as they are, so they tend to relate. It’s very rare to find someone who understands what I’ve gone through, but when it does happen, it makes me feel like I’m not the only one who had an irregular childhood.
Coming to a big university from a small town school was not a huge change for me compared to my other classmates. Thanks to being an Army brat, I was able to adapt quickly and find my niche in a school I barely knew. Not many people can do this, but my outgoing personality is a result of being a military brat.
Some military brats become spiritually sound over the years. Praying to God every night for your mom or dad to be safe and come home alive hits home. Relying on God’s protection is a great comfort when families are separated by hundreds of thousands of miles and oceans apart. Seeing the family member come home safely is the greatest blessing any child can ask for, and my dad came home safe every time he was overseas. Faith kept my family strong during those rough times.
Military brats often have incredible stories to tell of where they’ve lived and sometimes where they were born. Not all people travel across the country and live in several states, and that’s why having a military family member is so special.
I am thankful for the 21 years that my dad served in the U.S. Army and grateful for every single man and woman in a uniform protecting our country. I have extreme respect for all military children because it’s not an easy road. However, we come out of it stronger than ever before. It’s an experience no one else can replicate.
Cody Soto is a sophomore journalism major from Poth. He is a sports writer for the Lariat.