Thursday, November 20, 2014

Military Brats or C.H.A.M.P.S?

After the heavy topics of yesterday, I have decided to write about something a little more lightweight today.  A couple of days ago, I was reading the Stars & Stripes online and came across an article about two children's authors who wrote a book for kids about growing up in the military.  The book is entitled "Little C.H.A.M.P.S" and it was written by Debbie Fink and Jennifer Fink.

Apparently, these two ladies think the term "military brat" is outdated and derogatory, so they have launched a campaign to get people to stop referring to military kids as "brats".  Instead, they think kids who grow up with military parents should call themselves C.H.A.M.P.S, which stands for Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel.

I posted the article on Facebook with the caption, "How dumb."

One of Bill's friends and former co-workers wrote "My kids aren't brats."

I wrote back, "No one ever said they were."  And I will admit, though I have not yet met his kids in person, this guy's kids-- especially his daughters-- are just adorable.

Then he wrote, "I don't like that term for military kids."

And I wrote, "Then don't use it."

Several of my other friends, themselves "brats" like me, piped up about how proud they are of being military brats.  While I understand that the term "brat" is somewhat derogatory in that it's used to describe an unruly, impolite, obnoxious child, I don't believe the term "military brat" refers to that particular usage.  And we should all be using common sense in realizing that the term "military brat" is not meant to be offensive and shouldn't be taken that way.

According to the article I was reading, the term "military brat" started out as an acronym, albeit now an outdated one.  It dates back to the British Empire and originally stood for British Regiment Attached Traveler.  The name stuck and now the many thousands of people who grew up with a parent in the military identify with it.  Books have been written about the military brat experience.  There are online forums and groups for brats.  A lot of people genuinely like thinking of themselves as "military brats", even if they are long past being children.

I was curious, so I went to the authors' page on Amazon.com.  I wasn't all that surprised to see that as of this morning, their book had gotten 279 one star "reviews".  I highly doubt any of the people reviewing the book actually read it, but they definitely have an opinion about the assumption that we need to change the terminology for kids who have grown up with a parent serving in the military.

I was very young when my dad retired, so I didn't have the experience that other "brats" have had.  I didn't have the experience of constant moves until I married Bill, and even that didn't start until our fifth year of marriage.  But I have been around the military my whole life and grew up in an area with many "brats", most of whom are proud to be called that.  To someone who is not a part of the military community, the term "brat" might seem offensive and derogatory.  To many of us who have lived with the reality of military life, it's like being in a much beloved club.  And we don't see the need to change the name of our much beloved club.

Aside from thinking it's dumb to change the way we refer to military kids, personally, I think the term  C.H.A.M.P.S is disingenuous.  Not everyone can be a hero and certainly we shouldn't refer to children as heroes just because they happened to be born to a military service member.  A true hero is a rare individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty for a noble cause.  Unless you happen to subscribe to certain nutty religious beliefs, children don't choose their parents.  They are born to them by chance.  And certainly, not all military kids are heroic, though quite a few of them can legitimately be called "brats" using the more derogatory meaning of the word.  I was a "brat" myself, both literally and figuratively.

Yes, it's true that being the child of someone in the military can be very difficult and challenging, but it can also be difficult to be the child of a doctor or a lawyer or a cop...  how about preachers' kids?  How about growing up the child of someone who is chronically unemployed?  At least military brats have a parent who earns a steady paycheck and has access to medical care for themselves and their families.  Moreover, I can think of no other employer that offers as many programs devoted to families and recognizing their sacrifices and contributions as the military does.  Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, though.

I appreciate what these two authors are trying to do, but I think their efforts are misguided.  Judging by the comments on Amazon.com and the Stripes article itself, I think this is one movement that's going to be flushed straight down the toilet.            



    

10 comments:

  1. Join the cause to stop our name being changed by the Finks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/C.H.A.M.P.S.isforchumpsBRATSisforlife/

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  2. On a MISSION, proud Army BRAT since 1951.

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  3. I don't appreciate what they are doing at all. Their purportedly non-profit "selfless" acts are filling the coffers of their family for profit company. Additionally, they trademarked the name the program is trying to saddle military children with which translates to merchandise royalties if the can shove it down enough throats.

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  4. My mom says she proudly claims the title of "military brat."

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    1. As you can see, a lot of us are proud "brats". This CHAMPS thing is just stupid. It's another instance of politically correct bullshit promotion designed to line someone else's pockets and put them on the map for doing something "important" in their lives.

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  5. My Mother was a Brat, I was a Brat along with my brother and sister. We will be for life. The term is not derogatory...it is self deprecating. It is a way of answering that question "where are you from?" without boasting of all the places and cultures we've had the opportunity to experience. It is the reason Brats have a rounded world view. We wear the Title Brat with pride!

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