Thursday, April 14, 2011

Note from AFA President -- April, the Month of the Military Child

AFA members, as many of you know, this month is the month of the military child. AFA has recognized this with a press release you can find here:

But to honor the month, I want to tell you a story … one that very few people know.

When I was President of the National Defense University (NDU), I frequently bragged about the NDU library, calling it the "best library in the world." I had reason to … as, before I took over, it had won an award as the best library in government. One night, at a social event at my home, I asserted the above praise, and my dear wife responded: "If your library is so great, ask them to find the origin of the term 'Military Brat.' I think the term is an acronym."

[Many of you may know that the term Brat is a common reference to children of military members. It is a term of endearment – referring to a group who endure hardships, frequently move, change schools, leave behind friends, put up with frequent deployments, long absences of their parent(s), and (sometimes) inadequate government housing.]

Well – it turns out my wife was right … and the NDU library came through. A researcher there found a book written in 1921 which described the origins of the term. It came, like many of our military traditions, from the British Army. It seems that when a member of the British Army was assigned abroad and could take his family (mostly in India), the family went with the member in an Admin status entitled: BRAT status. It stands for: British Regiment Attached Traveler. Over the years, it was altered to refer only to the children of the military member (the wives of the British Army [who were all males] objected to the term referring to them). And the term not only stuck, but in many cases was adopted world-wide.

I can't emphasize too much the support role of families to our military. They move all over the world. Continuity of education, friendships … and even living conditions are often lacking. The success of the military is dependent upon the safety and support of their family members.

That is why one of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's top five priorities is: Developing and Caring for Airmen and their families. Family members' motto is exactly the same as that of the Air Force Association: The Force behind the Force.

Please share this note with as many others as you can.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

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