Number of BRATS

Courtesy of the Troxel Family.

Courtesy of the Troxel Family.

How many brats are there? The truth is, nobody knows. In a country obsessed with polls and statistics, neither the Department of Defense (DoD) nor anyone else has kept a running count of the number of children raised in the U.S. military over the years. You can't tell just by looking at someone. Brats are every race, age, religion, and economic status. They're your spouses, your parents, your co-workers, your neighbors.

As of 2012, there were 1.2 million children of Active Duty service members and over 700,000 children of Selected Reserve members; almost half of whom were Army.

Then there are the adult brats. It's impossible to get a completely accurate number, since there is no "military brat" or "TCK" box to tick off in the U.S. Census. (Perhaps there should be?) But extrapolations from school alumni organizations, Department of Defense Education records, etc., indicate that there are currently around 15 million adult brats in America.

That's a lot of brats.

Of course, there's also the question of definition. What constitutes a brat? An individual whose parent served in the military from the time they were born until they time they graduated from high school, moved ten times around the world, and experienced a combat deployment? Certainly. But what about those who fall somewhere in between - whose parent served four years in a non-combat capacity and rarely moved or whose parent retired when they were eight years old? What about the children of reserve, foreign service, and government intelligence families? What about the children of Department of Defense educators, or even military children of other nations? Are they brats?

Yes, they are. Because "being a brat" doesn't start when a parent is deployed and it doesn't end when they take your I.D. card away. It's a culture, a way of life, the way one looks at the world and the people in it.

It's not even just an American thing. There are British and Canadian brats, Italian and Irish brats, even Russian brats, who report similar lifestyles and experiences.

Brats and TCKs are one of the largest, borderless subcultures on the planet... and most people don't even know they exist.