“Ohhhh…you’re an Army brat!” Although I’ve heard it countless times, I’ve never fully understood the meaning behind it.
I have learned that the label is intended for endearment, and I will wear it with pride!
My dad, Colonel Dennis, served twenty-nine years in the United States Army; therefore, so did we. Growing up, I watched my dad work long days, weekends and holidays. All the while, my mom wore many hats as she prepared meals, transported kids, cleaned the house, volunteered at church, helped with homework and ironed perfect lines in my dad’s Army fatigues.
The lessons we learn in our youth help mold who we become as adults. Growing up as a “brat” I believe my life lessons are that of many; here are my top 7 lessons learned growing up in a military family.
1. Home is where your family is.
Moving is a part of the job, but packing up your life during your middle school years was down right hard. But, I can promise it was harder for my parents to watch me sit on the stairs, and cry because I didn’t have any friends at my new school. As lonely as it felt, I always had my family. We stuck together; sometimes we were all each other had.
2. Friendships are invaluable.
Meeting new people is a life skill, and I would have to say (maybe even brag) that I’m pretty darn good at! During my experiences in creating new friendships, I learned that you can’t put a price on loyalty. Being the new girl taught me to appreciate those who went out of their way to include me. They didn’t have to; they chose to, and for them, I am grateful.
3. Live within your means.
When I was 8 years old, my family bought a brand new mini-van. Sounds fancy, huh? Well…my brother and I drove that same van in college. My dad kept a log in the glove box of every service ever performed on that mini van, and most of them were done with his own two hands. We didn’t have the biggest house or the newest brand name clothes, but we always had what we needed, and learned to appreciate a luxury every now and again!
4. Every job is worthy of respect.
It’s no secret there is a chain of command in all branches of the military. As an Officer, my dad was often greeted with a salute, and returned the greet with a salute himself. Every member, regardless of rank, had a duty, and one could not be done without the next. We were raised that all occupations have a purpose and are worthy of our respect.
5. Manners matters!
My friend’s parents often had to tell me, “You can call me by my first name, Amy.” Until then, it was Mr. and Mrs.
Please and thank you were expected, and we didn’t dream of disrespecting our teachers! Although, “Yes, Ma’am,” and “No, thank you, Sir,” seem to be a thing of the past, I will continue to enforce respect and manners with my own children. For me, kindness will always be cool!
6. Diversity enriches our lives.
Moving from a small town to a metropolitan city is sure to bring different lifestyles. You learn to accept cultures and beliefs that are unfamiliar to your own. This appreciation and acceptance for different ways of life, is one of my most treasured lessons.
7. Hard work pays off.
My parents worked hard. After my dad served his nearly thirty years in the Army, he went on to teach for fourteen years. Once her children were older, my mom worked as a paraprofessional for nineteen years, and the love she had for those kids was as unconditional as if they were her own. They worked hard, and as a result, today you can find them traveling in their RV which they call home. Retirement was earned, and sure looks good on them!
Today on Veteran’s Day, thank a Veteran…and their families.