From brat to boots

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachel Waller
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
I am a brat.

Well, more like an Army brat but I am brat just the same. This means I am a proud child of an Army veteran, my dad.

Since 1986, April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices children make for their military parents.

Some of my earliest memories involve hearing Soldiers call cadence as they ran behind our house on post. In another memory, I remember my dad getting ready to leave for training, dressed in his field uniform, making the peace sign and walking out the door as I was having breakfast.

When I was younger, I never thought of how much it sucked to give up time with my dad because he had a military commitment or that he missed out on birthdays, holidays and memories.

It was normal to me. I was used to it.

By the time I was five, my dad left the service so my brothers and I could have a more stable childhood while growing up near family.

I never understood what that decision meant until I joined the Air Force eight years ago and had my three children.

Two of my children were born while we were was stationed overseas. They only knew their family through short video calls on Sundays, and they didn’t meet them until after we got stateside orders.

Before my eldest son was one, I deployed. It pained me to know that I was going to miss his birthday and a lot of his “firsts” but he was so young, he didn’t know the difference. At least, that’s what I told myself to make it easier.

When I was pregnant with my third child, my husband was deployed, and I was slotted for advance training back at the school house. Therefore, my children were uprooted from their lives for two months and moved to another state to live with their grandparents so my husband and I could meet our military commitments. They didn’t complain; in fact, they were jealous that we flew on aircraft without them.

This year, my oldest turned five and this time around, his dad was deployed. He didn’t make a big deal that dad missed his birthday because he knew dad was fixing airplanes and he would see him soon.

Every day, my children unknowingly make sacrifices to support my military career. Whether it’s the amount of time they spend with me or their personal time, I am grateful to them.

I want to say thank you to not only my children but all military children for their never ending love and support for their service member, because I know without it, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do daily.

Our military children are the true unsung heroes.