Life Lessons of a Military Brat

By Jacqueline Olivo

My name is Jacqueline, I’m twenty years old, and I was raised as a military child. My Dad served 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. I’m currently studying film at an arts conservatory in North Carolina. From K-12, I attended six schools in three states – but when people ask me where I’m from, I just say, ‘Northern Virginia.’ It’s certainly easier than explaining how it’s possible not to have a ‘hometown.’

Growing up as a military child is not an easy feat. You tend to develop a very specific skill set. You learn how to pack your room up every other year, how to say goodbye to your friends, and how to make new ones. At the time, it doesn’t exactly seem like the greatest thing in the world, and sometimes it even seems like the end of the world, but sometimes it gives me an advantage.

For example, the transition from high school to college wasn’t nearly as difficult as I’d come to expect. Researching a college was simple, as I had already lived in a number of states and attended schools with both large and small student bodies, so I knew what type of school I was looking for right off the bat.

PCSing

Packing up my life and moving six hours south didn’t seem like a big deal, especially after 18 years of moving at the “request” of the Marine Corps. Making new friends, establishing myself in a completely new city – these were all things I’d done with my family many times before. However, many of my civilian friends did struggle with moving out and being on their own for the first time, away from the towns they’d lived in their entire lives. It was definitely a foreign concept to me: growing up in one place for over a decade, having friends they’d known intimately well since Kindergarten, and being homesick for that atmosphere. It isn’t a good or bad thing; just very different experiences.

Character Building

I think living through multiple moves and deployment definitely prepared me for being on my own. Skills I didn’t even realize I was learning are becoming useful to me as an adult, and it all traces back to my Devil Pup days. In retrospect, I can recognize the value of these experiences, but at the time, I definitely felt different. I can remember the wave of disappointment that came with a new move announcement, and the fear when my parents told me my father had to deploy to Afghanistan when I was in 7th grade.

Moving every other year became my normal; I’d never known anything else. Being a military child is an essential part of my upbringing and my identity, and I can’t tell you who I’d be without those experiences. Would I be at an arts conservatory? What would my grades look like? More importantly, would I have an accent?

Moving on to the ‘Real World’

I kept a lot of emotions to myself because it was hard to get comfortable with people – that comes with time that I didn’t usually have. But, presently, I think it definitely prepared me for the real world. I had experiences I would never have had otherwise, and never would have developed the outlook and personality I have today.

Author: Jacqueline Olivo is a college sophomore studying film editing. She enjoys reading, writing, and making movies! She has friends in several states due to four PCS moves. Like most military kids she was born in one state, graduated high school in another and will graduate college in a third state!

What do you hope your military kid takes away from this military life?

2 thoughts on “Life Lessons of a Military Brat

  • I am an Air Force Brat and after college I joined the Army and served on active duty for 20 years. I am nearly 65 years old now and have made 56 permanent moves in my life. I have lived in 13 states (5 of them multiple times) and 4 countries (counting the US).
    Ramey Air Force Base, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where I lived from 1964-1967 was closed in early 1970s, was my favorite childhood station and the hardest to leave.
    After retiring from the Army in 1996 in Georgia (a state where I was stationed 5 different times, including the first time as a kid) I remained in Georgia for my second career with an airline. Finally in 2010 I fully retired and moved to Florida.
    Living all over the country and all around the world is an invaluable education and privilege for which I am eternally grateful.
    I am also extremely thankful for finally having roots and a forever home.

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