By Raine Hinkle
I was born into a military family and until now have never known anything different. Moving to Alabama where I am not surrounded by military families has made me realize the military has given me advantages and opportunities other people don’t have. So many times I have heard the phrase “military brat” being used as a negative. The truth is, it’s far more positive than many realize. I actually loved growing up in a military family. It made me stronger, more appreciative, and far more diverse than many other kids my age.
Being strong isn’t just from my dad waking me up at zero five hundred in the morning to workout on base. It has to do with being strong socially and emotionally as well. Socially you can’t be shy. Constantly moving means constantly leaving your friends behind. Emotionally you have to realize as great as your life is and as much as you love your current friends, your dad can come home one day with new orders and at that moment everything changes. You have to be ready to move on just like that.
I have grown up around military families my whole life, so I did not truly appreciate the benefits until I moved to Alabama. I now live in a neighborhood of civilians. I have really learned to appreciate spending time with my family. My dad may still leave at zero five hundred and come home until seventeen hundred, but at least he doesn’t leave for months at a time. Now it is a week tops. It is also unusual for me to see family events like we have in Foley where you see the whole family. At events like this for the military towns, you usually see one parent due to the demanding military schedule of the other. It becomes the normal expectation to know family will be missing.
When I was born, my dad was stationed in Georgia. Since then I have been to 12 schools. Foley High School is lucky number 13. I have experienced many different cultures. Every place I have been is different, not just the scenery but behaviors and values. Being a military brat means am exposed to many different ways of life. I’ve learned it is normal for people to be different. I have never seen color, religion or any other personal preferences as a barrier. I am respectful of people wishes.
It’s proven to be tough when military family members take constant trips to undisclosed locations for an unspecified amount of time. Not knowing when you are going to wake up and a parent will be gone is stressful. You don’t know if it is for a few days or a few months. How many days until they come back? The anticipation can be brutal.
Spotting the Navy submarine and just waiting for it to get closer. Seeing the men in their uniforms (AKA blueberry suits) emerge from the boat. At last I see daddy coming across the bridge. He salutes the flag at a halt then picks up the pace and I run into his arms. It is in that moment that I realize being a military brat is unique, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.