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Military Brat: The Meaning Behind the Word

In the military community, it is common for the children of both veterans and active duty parents alike to be labeled as ‘military brats’. However, in normal conversation, this word tends to have a negative connotation when being used in reference to a person. There is no question why many wonder the reasoning behind the term's usage in the first place. So, how did the military brat come to be? And why is it that people still use this term?

The history behind this phrase can actually be dated back to the 1700s in the United Kingdom. During the wars that took place back then, there were children living in the military barracks who were referred to as "Barrack Rats." Many people assume that as time progressed, people began shortening this phrase into the word ‘brat’ instead.

That instance was not the only one of its kind, however. Another explanation for the creation of this term also takes place in the United Kingdom in the 1800s. During this time, families who were permitted to move along with soldiers were each labeled as a ‘BRAT’ - British Regiment Attached Traveler. Over time, people began only referring to the children of soldiers as ‘brats’, instead of also including the spouses.

As the term developed more and more, being a ‘military brat’ became more than just a label. It turned into an identity for many, allowing them to feel a connection to their background, foster a community of other kids in similar situations, and take pride in their strength and bravery by identifying as such. In modern times, being a ‘brat’ is even seen as a term of endearment for military kids, symbolizing their sacrifice and resilience as the child of a serviceperson.

All in all, the idea of being a ‘brat’ may not be appealing to most, but for military kids, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Taking pride in their identity is helping build connections between other military kids from all over the nation and the world!


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