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Last month, I started a new job as a lifeguard at a military institution. While shadowing one of the other guards, we started talking about our shared experience of each having a father in the military. She mentioned that her dad did a flyover at an Air Force Academy football game and shattered the glass on the press box due to his proximity. Weirdly enough, my dad has talked about that same event happening during his senior year at the Academy. After that, we had so much more to share and talk about, feeling like we shared a special bond. It made me recognize the connection that the military gives its teens.


One of the hardest things about being a military teen is constantly having to “blend in” with new groups in new places. Theater, sports, arts - whatever the group may stem from - it always feels like you're trying to “match” its energy from the start. It’s stressful to feel like you have to act as someone you aren’t, even if it’s only for a short time. But as military kids, it doesn’t feel like that when we’re with each other.


Being military teens creates an immediate conversation and starts a connection. At some point, the branch your parent serves for becomes a joking rivalry, not a separation. This is speaking from personal experience, since I constantly harass my Navy friends whenever the Air Force beats them in any game. (And I mean whenever. This includes the water polo game that went into triple overtime this year.) No matter what, the instantaneous bond between two military brats is like no other, and it is vital for us to appreciate and utilize that bond.


It is worth it to be in a group where having transcript issues, understanding moving struggles, and having a weird knowledge of military terms is a characteristic of every member, a group where you are free to talk about these topics or to go to when you’re struggling with military teen life. Who knows, maybe you’ve crossed paths with some of them before?


However, I’m not saying the bonds you make with civilian teens are not important. In fact, they’re quite the opposite - one of the bonuses of having such a turbulent life as a military brat is getting to meet countless new people with so many different lives. Yet, it can often be difficult to immediately connect with these people, so finding a group of military teens capable of supporting you is a great idea.


In summary, the military is one big community. Yes, the branches are different, but each military teen faces extremely similar, if not the same, challenges - challenges through which you can connect. Oftentimes, people return places or move to new ones with the same people. This is your sign to take advantage of the relationships that you had but lost or to go out and find new ones. The things that we can do when we come together are indispensable - be a part of it and take advantage of the unique opportunities the military gives us.

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