BRATS: Our Journey Home

90 Min

A Donna Musil Film

U.S. military brats share intimate memories about their unique childhoods - growing up on military bases around the world, then struggling to fit into an American lifestyle with which they have little in common. Narrated and featuring songs by Kris Kristofferson. Interviews include the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, author Mary Edwards Wertsch, and brats of all ages, races, and branches of service.

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It's hard to imagine a military brat's childhood. Moving from base to base around the world, they are at home everywhere - and nowhere. There are 2 million children being raised in the military today. An estimated 15 million Americans are former BRATS. They include singers Pink and Wiz Khalifa, authors Pat Conroy and Suzanne Collins (of the "Hunger Games"), basketball star Shaquille O'Neal and Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III, actors Julianne Moore and Neil Patrick Harris, and many more.

BRATS is the first cinematic glimpse into a global subculture whose journey to adulthood is a high-octane mixture of incredible excitement and enormous pain. Make no mistake - BRATS is not about the U.S. military - it's about their children, who grow up in a paradox that is idealistic and authoritarian, privileged and perilous, supportive and stifling - all at the same time. Their passports say "United States," but they're really citizens of the world.

Official Trailer

Singer/songwriter and Air Force brat Kris Kristofferson leads us through the heart of their experiences, sharing intimate memories with fellow brats, including author Mary Edwards Wertsch, whose ground-breaking book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress, was one of the seminal inspirations for the film. Their stories reveal the peculiar landscape of their childhood, the culture that binds them together, and the power it exerts over their adult lives.

A seven-year work of passion by independent filmmaker Donna MusilBRATS features rare archival footage, home movies and private photographs from post-war Japan, Germany, and Vietnam.

Click here for more information about growing up military.

Click here for more information about the BRAT Art Institute and other projects which have grown out of the BRATS film, including BRATS Clubs, BRATS Educate-the-Educator and Teen Transition Workshops, UNCLASSIFIED: The Military Kid Art Show (a traveling museum exhibit), and Our Own Private Battlefield, the first documentary-in-progress about the intergenerational effects of combat PTSD on military children.


Children, Youth & Families; Psychology and Social Work; Sociology; Military Family Studies; Anthropology; Ethnic Studies; History; International Relations & Global Issues; Peace & Conflict Studies; American Studies; Education; PTSD

purchasing options

Now you can buy the DVD or stream the film online!

DVD prices

  • Individual - for individual/home use only - $24.95
  • Institutional/K-12 Licenses - for K-12 Schools, Public Libraries, and other select groups in one geographical location (does not include online institutions) - $175.00
  • Institutional/Univ Licenses - for Universities, Colleges, and Corporations in one geographical location (does not include online institutions) - $275.00
  • Online Institutional Licenses - please contact Brats Without Borders directly.

online streaming prices

  • Individual - for individual/home use only
    • Rent for 3 Days - $4.99
    • Buy - $19.99
  • Institutional/K-12 Licenses - for K-12 Schools, Public Libraries, and other select groups in one geographical location (does not include online institutions)
    • Rent for 3 Days - $100.00
    • 3-Year License - $200.00
    • 5-Year License - $300.00
  • Institutional/Univ Licenses - for Universities, Colleges, and Corporations in one geographical location (does not include online institutions)
    • Rent for 3 Days - $100.00
    • 3-Year License - $300.00
    • 5-Year License - $400.00
  • Online Institutional Licenses - please contact Brats Without Borders directly.


BRATS on CNN's "This Week at War"

Featured on CNN's This Week at War and NPR's All Things Considered with Debbie Elliott, and broadcast on Armed Forces Television in 178 countries (outside the U.S.), BRATS continues to garner national and local attention by winning awards, such as:

  • Winner, Founder's Choice Award, G.I. Film Festival
  • Winner, Southern Lens Award
  • Winner Best Documentary, Beaufort Film Festival
  • Winner Best Documentary, Estes Park Film Festival
  • Winner, First Time Director, RIIFF/Roving Eye Documentary Film Festival

REVIEWS & audience reactions

Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel (FL)
"Brats does most everything you'd want a good documentary to do -- it informs us about a corner of the culture we've overlooked, lays out the good, the bad and the unhappy about this lifestyle and changes the way we look at these people and the world their country makes them and needs them to live in differently."

Mike Brown, School Library Journal
"...a powerful glimpse of life 'inside the fortress.' It is a must see for Brats and will be surprisingly popular with non-Brats..."

Doug Norris, South County Independent (RI)
"...powerful... illuminating... compelling... at the heart of this fascinating documentary is the universal need for belonging... brats experience the world and what it means to be American in ways that most of us will never understand..."

Pat Conroy, Author, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides
"Your film moved me a great deal when I saw it and how could it fail to move a brat. I still am shocked that I moved 23 times by the time I got to Beaufort when I was 15 years old. I latched on to this poor town and have never loosened my grip. You did all of us a great service with your film and I think it will be a great help to military brats who are growing up today… Great love and congratulations."

Dr. Morten Ender, Sociology Program Director, United States Military Academy, West Point
"No other documentary better depicts the social and psychological impact on children and adolescents at the intersection of two power social institutions—the military and the family."

John Hardy, Producer, Erin Brokovich and Ocean's 11
"…a beautiful film... very, very well made and… a must for each and every American who ever lived under these circumstances... this is not an easy topic... the filmmakers have done an excellent job of laying out the major issues... We should all support this film in the most aggressive way possible."

Marlene Knudson, DoDDS Teacher & Principal
"BRATS explores this generations 'silent crisis': why so many children were sad and confused while appearing to be tough, cheerful and confident. Donna Musil challenges conventional expectations regarding the children of military members during the cold war era and the Vietnam conflict. Her documentary serves as a testimonial to the thousands of families caught up in raising their children through a toughening process that drives their true emotions underground. The effect of this documentary on me personally has been profound. Parents and teachers everywhere should be exposed to this material. It would serve as a reminder to all of us that every child is vital and uniquely vulnerable. When we understand what young people are experiencing, parents and teachers can help them develop more self-confidence and the emotional savvy they need to deal with issues such as depression, drugs, alcohol, sexuality and love. Donna Musil's work is illuminating, exciting and courageous. BRATS: Our Journey Home should be viewed by everyone concerned about children. It is a beacon of hope and a gift to all of us."

"For anyone‐‐military member or brat‐‐who has not seen it, be prepared to be catapulted across time and lost in thought in the most fundamental of ways… The film ought to be required viewing by any brat (and probably their parents) before they leave high school and start making their own life decisions..." - Bill Kirk, Military Brat

"It changed my life." - Julie Jacobs, Military Brat

The above are just a few of the comments we've received over the years about BRAT: Our Journey Home (click the posters to read). Click here for more reactions and more reviews!

The Filmmaker


The idea for a non-fiction film about military children took root back in 1998. I was a labor-lawyer-turned-writer feeling a bit out of sorts and "different" from my fellow Americans, but didn't know why. Then one day I discovered I was not alone. There are literally millions of us military BRATS scattered around the world and more are being born every day. We are raised in a separate and distinct culture that affects us deeply in both positive and painful ways. Making this connection to my culture gave me a sense of belonging I had never experienced. This was empowering to a "little girl" who had moved twelve times on three continents, attended three high schools, and lost her father, an Army officer, by the time she was sixteen years old.

Today, I have a film about a group of people whose only "hometowns" are each other. We have more in common with the military children and "global nomads" of other countries than with our fellow citizens. And that is my vision - that this film might be a spark in a global fire of self-awareness and belonging - that from the ashes of war might rise a nation of children committed to peace.

Donna Musil, Writer-Director
BRATS: Our Journey Home

Click here for more information about Writer-Director Donna Musil.
For speaking engagements, please contact Brats Without Borders.