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Main article: Children of military personnel

Military brat is an English-language colloquial or military slang term used in several countries to describe the children and teenagers of active-duty military personnel. It also describes the unique subcultures associated with these populations.[1] It is also a recognized term of cultural identity.[2][3][4][5] The term denotes childhood and/or adolescent immersion in military culture to the point where the mainstream culture of one's home country may seem foreign or peripheral.[2][3][4][5] In a number of countries (but not all) where there are military brat subcultures, the term also references a lifestyle of high mobility, as the child's family follows the soldier-parent great distances from one non-combat assignment after another during most or at least a significant portion of one's growing up years.[2][3][4][5] For highly mobile military brat populations, a complex 'mixed' cultural identity often results, due to the resulting exposure to numerous national or regional cultures while growing up.[2][3][4][5]

Within military culture, the term "military brat" is not considered to be an insult, but rather connotes affection and respect.[2][3][4][6]

War-related family stresses, including long-term war-related absence of a parent, as well as war aftermath issues, are common features of military brat life in some countries, although the degree of war-involvement of individual countries with military brat subcultures may vary.[2][3][4][5]

Life and culture

A common pattern in these subcultures is a heavy childhood and adolescent immersion in military culture to the point of marginalizing (or having significant feelings of difference in relation to) one's national civilian culture.[2][4][5][7] This is characterized by a strong identification with military culture rather than civilian culture.[2][4][5][7] Another term for this is the "militarization of childhood".[2][4][5][7]

In a number of countries where military brat subcultures occur (but with some exceptions and to varying degrees), there may also be an itinerant or modern nomadic lifestyle involved as the child follows their military-parent(s) from military base to military base, in many cases never having a hometown (or at least going through very long periods of being away from one's home town).[2][3][6][8] It also can involve living outside of one's home country at or near overseas military bases in foreign cultures, or in regions within one's home country far from one's home region, along with experiences of significant cultural difference in either case.[2][6][9] Highly mobile Military brat subcultures have also been described as modern nomadic or peripatetic subcultures.[4][6]

Use of term

The use of the English term "military brat" is in common use (within military cultures) in Australia,[2][4] India (also called "Fauji brats"),[3] Canada (also called "Base Brats"),[2][4] Pakistan,[citation needed] the Philippines,[citation needed] New Zealand,[4] the United Kingdom (also called "Pad Brats", "Patch Brats", "Cabbage Patch Kids"),[6] and the United States.[2] Also known as camp followers,[citation needed] there have been such military-dependent subcultures (under various other names) in many parts of the world for thousands of years.[10]

Feelings of difference, military brat identity versus civilian identity

Many military brats report difficulty in identifying where they belong[1][8][11] (due to a lifestyle of constantly moving, and also immersion in military culture, and in many cases, also foreign cultures, as opposed to the civilian culture of their native countries, while growing up)[11] and frequently feel like outsiders in relation to the civilian culture of their native countries.[2][6][10][12] The home countries of a number of Military Brat subcultures have highly mobile (modern Nomadic) lifestyles, or at least significant overseas (or distant-internal) assignments for career military families and their children and adolescents while growing up, including Canada,[2] Britain,[6][13] France, India,[3][12] Pakistan, the Philippines,[5] Australia,[4] New Zealand[4] and the United States.[2][8][14] These military-dependent subcultures are generations old.[10]

American military brats have also been identified as a distinct,[14] 200-year old American subculture.[15][16]

See also

  • Camp follower historical term that described military dependent children and wives, still has some contemporary use
  • Global nomad
  • List of military brats
  • Military dependent official government term in several countries for military brats
  • Military brat (disambiguation) page for several other uses of the term / related articles
  • Military families
  • Military sociology
  • Service Children's Education British Government Agency that administers overseas schools for UK military children
  • Social psychology
  • Third culture kid


  1. 1.0 1.1 David C. Pollock, Ruth E. van Reken. Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Revised Edition. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-85788-525-5
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Wertsch, Mary E. (January 2006). Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Chatterjee, Smita. "Defense Kids In India: Growing Up Differently", Loving Your Child online magazine, December 2010.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Ender, Morton. Military Brats and Other Global Nomads. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. ISBN 978-0-275-97266-0
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Suarez, Theresa Cenidoza. "The language of militarism: Engendering Filipino masculinity in the U.S. empire", ch. 4. University of California, San Diego, 2008. 130 pages, 3320357
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Cranston, CA. "Challenging Contemporary Ecocritical Place Discourses: Military Brats, Shadow Places, and Homeplace Consumerism". Indian Journal of Ecocriticism, V. 2, 2009. pp. 73-89. ISSN 0974-2840
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Enloe, Cynthia H. Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives, p. 186. University of California Press; 1st edition, 2000. ISBN 978-0-520-22071-3
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 BBC News, "Forces children face 'time bomb'" "Friday, 6 November 2009"
  9. Hawkins, John P. Army of Hope, Army of Alienation: Culture and Contradiction in the American Army Communities of Cold War Germany. Praeger, 2001. ISBN 978-0-275-96738-3
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Holmes, Richard; ed (2001). The Oxford Companion to Military History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866209-2.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Eidse, Faith; Sichel, Nina. Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing up Global, 1st edition. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2003. ISBN 978-1-85788-338-1
  12. 12.0 12.1 Caforio, Giuseppe. Kümmel, Gerhard; Purkayastha, Bandana (eds.) Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution: Sociological Perspectives. Emerald Group Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84855-122-0
  13. Bell, J. L. "Children Attached to the British Military" at Boston 1775 (blog), September 17, 2007.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Williams, Rudi. "Military Brats Are a Special Breed". Washington, D.C.: American Forces Press Service (US Department of Defense Publication), 2001.
  15. Wertsch, Mary Edwards (April 23, 1991). Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress, 1st hardcover edition, Harmony.
  16. Musil, Donna. Brats: Our Journey Home (documentary film). Atlanta Georgia: Brats Without Borders Inc., 2005.

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