April is Military Child Month, and during this period there’s a particularly special day for children of military families. Military Brats Day, held on April 30th every year, offers a unique opportunity to recognize these “military brats” and bring attention to their uncommon experiences and challenges.

What is Military Brats Day, and where did it come from? Let’s dive in to explore this holiday.

The history of Military Brats Day

Military Brats Day has its origins in 2016 when the nonprofit organization Military Brats, Inc. made April 30 an unofficial holiday to celebrate kids from families in the armed forces. These “military brats” help support their parental servicemembers as proud sons and daughters — so in a very real way, they indirectly serve.

To some, the term “brat” might sound negative, but there’s a good reason why “military brats” are referred to that way. “BRAT” is an acronym originally coined in 1921 that stands for British Regiment Attached Traveler — family members who travel with service personnel. This became a popular way to refer to the kids of military families.

Military Brats, Inc. is currently lobbying Congress in an effort to make Military Brats Day an officially-recognized national holiday.

Military Brats, Inc.

Military Brats, Inc. has an explicit mission “to preserve the culture and heritage of those who grew up military.” Their goal is to bring assistance to military families through donation-led programs, wherever they may be needed.

Operation Footlocker is a program the organization is closely involved in along with the Museum of the American Military Family. Not to be confused with the educational program of the same name at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA, this project aims to bring together military brats across the country at special events. The official Operation Footlocker home page defines it as “an occasion for brats to come together and swap stories, celebrate, and in various ways pay tribute to our roots.”

"The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."“The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

What makes military brats unique?

Military brats typically share certain characteristics that make them (and their upbringing) unique. Families in the armed forces often need to relocate frequently, and this includes the children of the parental servicemember(s). These young people follow their parents wherever they go, and this presents them with some uncommon challenges that shape their character for life. A military brat changes schools an average of six times in life, according to National Today.

This means military brats often have innate difficulties making lasting friendships with peers and don’t always have a place to call their hometown — but it also makes them closer to their families. These children have strong ties to the constants in their lives, not the least of which are their parents and siblings.

Parents who serve in the armed forces often have special qualities that they either inherently possess or learn in the military, such as discipline, honor and responsibility. These values are commonly taught to their offspring, giving another special value to military brats.

It’s not uncommon for these children to live at military bases with their parental servicemember, and this means they have access to the same perks. For example, they can spend time in the libraries at these locations or other shared recreational facilities. They can participate in any morale, welfare and recreational (MWR) activities as well.

Find a way to celebrate and honor military brats on this Military Brats Day

There’s no better time to honor the children of military families than Military Brats Day. Whether you’re a parental servicemember or a military brat yourself — or simply want to demonstrate your appreciation for military brats — use this April 30th to show it.