April is the month of the military BRAT. What is a military BRAT? Any Google search result will go on to describe this unique culture. We even have our own flower, a Dandelion, which can put down roots almost anywhere. That, I especially love. There are countless creeds, coins, acronyms, and sayings accompanying the military BRAT.
(Upon my father’s arrival home, I am removing a ribbon a neighbor had up for my father while on one of his deployments. I will never forget her face and tears as she cried and prayed with me as I stood there joyfully crying with that ribbon in my hands.)
Despite being raised by my mother, I still felt the nuances and marginalization associated with being a military child. Being a BRAT has no doubt shaped who I am. I can be quite over direct by civilian culture. I can easily become hyperemotional at the mention of patriotism. Turn on the national anthem. I’ll rise to my feet, hand over my heart and silently cry. Doesn’t matter where. I feel so much unity. I feel unity as an American, to know my father fought for freedom for all. On a smaller scale, I feel unity as a BRAT. To know others out there have had the same authoritarian father (or mother). To know others have sacrificed far beyond what I have. To know others have also worried endlessly while a parent is deployed. To know others understand how that patriotism never leaves, even after you turn 21 and your ID is no longer valid, even after your parent retires. The patriotisms remains. I find comfort knowing there is a world of BRATs out there.
A recent dinner with a childhood friend, who also served in the Marine Corps, reminded me of one thing. The military culture is one of resiliency. We are taught not to feel sorry for ourselves, to be gritty, and most of all to survive. I am proud of this friend. He is a man who isn’t afraid to command boundaries for the sanctity of his family. I am thankful for his direct commands to me to win the day.
“Win the day, every second, every minute, every hour! We will win!”
Somehow in this battle with POTS, I managed to momentarily let it break my fighting spirit. These commands from this friend coincide at a time of large personal growth, and a time when two others (besides my ever encouraging and loving husband. there is no post that can do his care of me justice) have reminded me that I AM a fighter.
Another friend and I have managed to pick up right where we left off. Despite life taking over, we manage to make it feel like we haven’t skipped a beat. She jumped back in, reminding me that I am a fighter.
As we are preparing to move, I recently found a UIL state medal. I did not win this medal. A previous school board member sent me this medal last spring after our women’s soccer program won the state title back to back. This program has been around less than two decades. He sent me this medal as a reminder of my feisty spirit. A reminder of the young girl who fought to implement that program from 8th grade to junior year alongside her friend and friend’s mother. A reminder of the young girl who screamed in happiness when she found out the program would be implemented just in time for her senior year. It now serves as a reminder that my feisty spirit is not gone and that I am capable of engendering positive change.
Call it coincidence. Call it the universe aligning. Call it whatever you want. I call it God. He brought these many forces together simultaneously to remind me who I am. I am His child, perfectly created. I am a BRAT. I am born, raised, and trained to survive. I am determined to take this situation and learn everything I can from it.
The prior friend mentioned, was in charge of the ABV’s (assault breacher vehicle) that cleared the IED’s (improvised explosive device). He recently left me with another quote that he found useful in his deployment as he had to be brave and fight, with or without knowing what may come.
“Bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet not withstanding, go out to meet it.” -Thucydides.
To all the other BRATs out there, I tip my hat and thank you. I thank you for your sacrifices. Selfishly, I thank you for encouraging me to survive without even knowing me. BRATs, military, civilians, whoever you are, whatever you are facing, whatever barriers lie in your path, remember, you will win!
Vaya con Dios.