BRATS Workshops

USAF Retired Officer, Dr. Paulette Bethel, CMC, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Donna Musil, Executive Director, BWB, instructs medical staff at Vicenza Hospital in USAG Vicenza, Italy.

USAF Retired Officer, Dr. Paulette Bethel, CMC, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Donna Musil, Executive Director, BWB, instructs medical staff at Vicenza Hospital in USAG Vicenza, Italy.

In September, 2009, Brats Without Borders launched its educational outreach program, Operation Military Brat, to raise awareness of the challenges facing military brats of all ages; acknowledge and celebrate their existence, sacrifices, and contributions; and improve the quality of their lives.

Integral to Operation Military Brat are its cultural competency workshops about "growing up military" for parents, professionals, and teens. To our knowledge, these are the only workshops about military children in the country developed and presented by adult military brats, professionals who have lived the life and walked-the-walk. These workshops examine everything from the child's point-of-view: base life, mobility, deployment, reintegration, PTSD, death and injury, even the racial alienation some military children feel when moving in and out of less diverse environments than the military. Operation Military Brat also offers workshops to help military teens transition out of the military culture or "home" to America from an overseas assignment.

who benefits from these workshops?

Anyone who cares for or works with Military Brats or TCKs, young and old, can benefit from these workshops, including parents, educators, counselors, clergy, and health care providers.

Created to help Military Brats & TCKs thrive, not just survive!

As the Yellow Ribbon programs we work with like to say, "Soldier Readiness + Family Readiness = Mission Readiness." We at Brats Without Borders also believe that "Brat Readiness" = a happier life.

To find out more, please contact Brats Without Borders.


BRATS 1.0 Educate-the-Educator WorkshopsTM

Growing up military looks a lot different through the eyes of a child. Most parents and professionals who teach and work with military brats did not grow up that way. Mobility, deployment, even the culture shock of reintegration can take its toll. But brats are tough and adept at hiding their feelings, so it takes an astute adult to see beyond the smiles - to help brats build on their strengths, navigate the pitfalls, and prepare for the future.

Using a combination of instruction and interaction, the BRATS 1.0 Workshop offers information, strategies, and resources to help parents and professionals be the guides these children need to become strong, independent adults. Some of the topics we cover include:

  • The Military Brat and TCK Subculture and what it means.
  • What the research says about growing up brat/TCK - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful - and how we can use that information to benefit current military children.
  •  How to validate a brat's feelings and build a strong sense of self and belonging.
  •  How to recognize a troubled brat (even if they're making straight A's).
  •  What children need to know before they leave the military/TCK environment.
  • Why brats/TCKs need you to be their strongest advocate. 


AUDIENCE REACTIONS

Here are some audience reactions to one of our BRATS Workshops at a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration weekend for deployed Army families in Houston in 2013. The audience consisted of military spouses, whose service members were deployed.

Both speakers were wonderful and entertaining. It’s great that they shared their personal experiences - it helped us to have an easier understanding of BRAT life. They were comprehensive in their presentation and even included a nice movie trailer that opened my eyes to the BRAT experience. I love how they kept us engaged and provided paper handouts with resources. My favorite workshop of the day! Such jolly presenters and cute family photos. A wonderful experience! :)
— Military Spouse attending BRAT Workshop during Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program for deployed families

After our presentations at the USAG Kaiserslautern, Mannheim, and Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, every participant who submitted an evaluation sheet said they would recommend the event to others. There were no negative comments. Specific comments included:

"This was very helpful for my family."
"It was like a window – being able to look into what’s going on in my BRATs."
"I would recommend to all USAREUR."
"Would love to have this presentation for all High School Seniors."
"Thank you – Great information.  We need this."
"Fabulous!  Very interesting and relevant!"
"These two wonderful ladies should travel to every military installation and share their knowledge and experiences!"

BWB Executive Director Donna Musil describes military life from a child's point-of-view to the Barksdale Air Force Base Officers Spouses Club.

BWB Executive Director Donna Musil describes military life from a child's point-of-view to the Barksdale Air Force Base Officers Spouses Club.

PREVIOUS presentations & WORKSHOPS

Here are just a few places we've presented our BRATS 1.0 Workshops.

  • Army Reserve Chain of Command Training, 335th Signal Command Family Programs - Orlando, FL
  • Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Programs for deployed families in TX, FL, NC, GA, and IL
  • Service Children's Support Network - London, England
  • The Marine Sergeant Major's Wives Symposium - Washington, DC
  • U.S. Army Garrisons Kaiserslautern, Mannheim, and Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany - sponsored by the U.S. Army Chaplaincy
  • U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy - sponsored by the U.S. Army Chaplaincy
  • Barksdale Air Force Base Officers Spouses Club - Shreveport, LA
  • Eglin Air Force Base - Fort Walton, FL
  • Redstone Arsenal - Huntsville, AL (keynote speaker, Redstone Arsenal's Educator's Luncheon)
  • Psychiatric Institute of Washington - Washington, DC
  • Families in Global Transition Conference - Houston, TX and Alexandria, VA
  • J.E. Williams Middle School - Huntsville, AL
  • Intercultural Management Institute - Washington, DC
  • USAA - San Antonio, TX
  • Museum of the American Military Family - Albuquerque, NM
  • Zweibrucken High School Alumni Reunion - Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Karlsruhe American High School/Berlin American High School Reunions - Arlington, VA

Teen Transition WorkshopsTM

Military brats at Daegu American High School in Korea (where filmmaker Donna Musil attended high school) get ready to watch BRATS: Our Journey Home.

Military brats at Daegu American High School in Korea (where filmmaker Donna Musil attended high school) get ready to watch BRATS: Our Journey Home.

BWB's Teen Transition Workshops celebrate the cultural heritage of Military Brats and TCKs and prepare them to transition out of the military or TCK environment or home from an overseas assignment.

According to a 2010 Blue Star Families study, the #2 concern for military families is the "effect of deployment on kids." Social networking and the internet allow teens to keep in touch, but it doesn't help them identify or put their feelings into perspective. Many of the toughest challenges brats and TCKs face don't even occur until they leave the military/TCK environment and try to "fit in" to a more rooted civilian world. BWB's Teen Transition Workshops help teenagers prepare for these challenges by:

Because preparation is 99% of the battle...
  • introducing them to their collective history and contributions;
  • examining the gifts and challenges of growing up military/TCK;
  • suggesting strategies for building on the gifts of growing up military/TCK and ameliorating the challenges that might arise;
  • providing information and resources they may need during the transition period;
  • encouraging a sense of community with their Military Brat/TCK Subculture; and
  • acknowledging their sacrifices and thanking them for their service!

Yes, Military Brats and TCKs are different than children who have been raised in one or two places all their lives and never watched a parent go to war - not better or worse, just different - and that's okay! Operation Military Brat wants Military Brats, TCKs, and their families to understand that they do belong - not to a geographical place, but to a proud subculture and heritage that is hundreds of years old and millions of brats and TCKs strong; a bright, wonderful, diverse group of individuals who share their thoughts, experiences, and feelings and, for the most part, wouldn't change it for the world!