I am an Army Brat. I say that proudly. I feel that in some small way, I, too, served my country for the twenty years of my life in which my father was employed by the military. (More than twenty, if you include the years he worked as a civilian on the Patriot missile system--a job which sent him into the Gulf War three times.)
We Brats are a unique breed. In psychological and sociological circles, we are known as third culture kids, exposed to the mores of our home country, our countries of residence, and those of the military culture. We have seen things that most people our age are only just now seeing on cruises and sightseeing trips. And we saw them as children, from a totally different perspective than an adult tourist.
These experiences have left me older than my years, critical of anyone who derides foreign countries without having lived there or personally known their inhabitants, and more liberal than many of my Texan neighbors would appreciate. I am a peacemonger who has had to struggle with the fact that the war machine put a roof over our heads, food on our table, and gave me a college education as well as a great mortgage rate (my husband was in the military, too).
The demands of family life in the military have led to my personal sanctification of my mother, may she rest in peace. She was the ultimate military wife: open to new experiences, social, never the ugly American, ready to learn enough of the language of the land to not just eat and shop "on the economy" as we put it--she could even barter with the vendors. I am also proud of my father, who not only went to war for our country, but who also insisted that his wife and children were not soldiers, and therefore instructed us to address those in uniform as Mr. and Mrs., even if they lived on Officer Row.
I could write an entire year of posts on my Brat experiences that began with my birth in France and took me through Thailand, Italy, Germany, four U.S. states and side trips through many more European countries. Maybe I'll just save it for a memoir.