Christy McAnally, a teacher Landstown Middle School in Virginia Beach, knows firsthand how challenging it is to be the child of someone in the military. Her father was a Marine pilot and as a result she spent much of her childhood on the move. Now, she puts her unique experiences to good use, reaching out to military children at her school though the BRATs Club, which she founded nearly three years ago, reports The Virginian-Pilot reports.
BRAT stands for British Regiment Attached Traveler and was used overseas as a way to describe the children and spouses of servicemembers. The club attracts more than two dozen youngsters who have parents in the military. Aside from giving them a chance to share experiences with people who are going through the same thing, the members also do considerable amounts of community service. But perhaps most importantly, McAnally hopes her club can help military children recognize that there is someone to help them through the challenges.
"I was seeing there were students who all had that BRAT experience in common but didn't know that about one another," she told the newspaper. "That conversation had to take place. And I thought it was important to have an adult in their lives who grew up feeling the same things they feel."
The students at Landstown Middle School certainly aren't alone when it comes to knowing the challenges of military life. An estimated 1.8 million children have at least one parent in the military.