Growing up as an Air Force brat

Growing up, it seemed everywhere I went and everything I did was tied into my dad’s job. If friends would want to come over to my house, my family would have to go pick them up so they could get past the gate to come on Base. Sundays after church I would go to the Officer’s Club for Sunday brunch.

I could name types of planes as they flew overhead on the school playground. That was just the norm.

Every time I got comfortable somewhere, made friends somewhere, fit in somewhere, my dad would come home and uproot the whole family—again. I had moved seven times before my freshman year of high school.

I left my old life and began again seven times. These weren’t just moves down the street, they were 4,647 mile journeys across the Atlantic from Omaha, Nebraska to Ramstein, Germany.

It would be easy to say that I resented that lifestyle. So easy, in fact, that I have caught myself saying so more than once. It would be easy, yes, but it wasn’t all those terrible things that your mind may jump to.

It wasn’t a sad or a lonely childhood. I had the privilege to make friends in eight distinctly different locations in the world. I was able to explore Europe at the age of ten. I got the chance to see the United States from seven unique angles and understand the history and culture of each.

Plus, how many people can say they went to Paris for their ninth birthday? Well, EuroDisney, but, still, Paris.

It is, also, easy to focus on those sunshines and rainbows. It is easy to get on a roll talking about the ideals and benefits to being a military child.

It becomes a little more difficult to couple the highs with the lows, to process that at times it rocked being in a military family, but at times it really sucked. Hard.

As my sisters and I got up in age, moving became increasingly hard.

My dad worked long days. There were periods of my childhood where my dad was absent—deployed. Deployment was a word that used to strike fear into my very soul.

No little girl wants to hear that her daddy is going to be in a war zone for 6 months to a year, but to a military kid, that’s just part of life.

Finding another military kid is like making an automatic best friend because they understand you in a way that not many other people can. They know what it is like to grow up in such a unique environment.

Being a member of a military family is like being on a crazy rollercoaster.  It is full of ups and downs and loops and twists that you never see coming. The very best part—the biggest thrill of all—is that I know that my father is a hero. Because of that, I will always take pride in being an Air Force brat.

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