The demands of a military career often extend to a soldier's family. It is not unusual for an Army officer or career soldier to receive relocation orders several times while on active duty, and this constant upheaval has created generations of children who have literally grown up all over the United States or even the world. A person who has been raised in such an environment often refers to himself or herself as an Army brat. He or she has often experienced both the highs and lows of a military family's life in flux.
One of the major problems faced by an Army brat is receiving a consistent early education. A child may be enrolled in a local public kindergarten program near the military post, but suddenly be moved whenever a parent's transfer orders force a relocation. Depending on the local school system, the child may have to re-enroll in a different program or wait until the next first grade classes open. This process may continue throughout the child's entire youth, creating the possibility of duplicating grades or losing credits for graduation.
Someone who grows up this way also faces a number of social challenges during his or her formative years. He or she may become less motivated to form friendships with peers, knowing that any relationship could be short-lived. An Army brat may also feel like the perennial "new kid in town," going through the same cycle of curiosity, acceptance and abandonment in every new school setting. This sense of being a perpetual outsider can seriously affect a child's worldview as he or she becomes an adult. It is not unusual for a former Army brat to appear stand-offish or secretive as an adult, since these defensive skills may have served them well as children.
There are some positive elements of being an Army brat as well. Few children ever have such an opportunity to travel across the United States or the world. Being an Army brat is often the same as being the child of a religious missionary or political diplomat. They all have the opportunity to meet famous people or become involved in some aspect of their parents' work. The children of soldiers often mature much faster than their peers, since they have had to learn how to live independently at a younger age. They may also have a very developed sense of personal discipline and the ability to adapt quickly to change.