Some of you have heard the term “Military Brat” used for children of military personnel. I grew up in a military home; a home that experienced frequent changes, moves, and new beginnings. My father, Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Bradbury, served 30 years in the United States Coast Guard, making me a “Coastie Brat.” Growing up, I felt this term held a negative connotation on who I was as a person. However, as I look back at my childhood and early adult life, I realize that I developed an exclusive set of skills from this lifestyle that are highly transferable to both my personal life and my professional career.
As I look back at my up-bringing, I look at how being a military kid has affected me as an individual in today’s workforce.
Innovative Thinking. I can’t speak for all military kids, but I can tell you how my military childhood lead to my ability to be a world class thinker and innovator in the workplace. I’ve lived in 7 different states, and consistently had my dad deployed or underway on a CG Cutter. I had an unmatched childhood that enhanced my ability to excel in diverse and unique situations using thought and creative solutions.
Adaptability. With each move I was learning adaptability; adapting to a new home, new community, new friends and neighbors. I learned a little more about myself each move we made and gained more skills that I now use in my everyday work and personal life. I not only had adaptability to moving, but also to having a parent away for most of my childhood – my dad was away for the majority of my middle and high school years – missing sporting events, academic achievements– but we adapted to the situation and understood that our family was a bit different than most – making up for those times when we did have each other around.
Maturity and Resiliency. You grow up fast when you need to be there for your parent that’s at home – you take on more responsibility around the house, and more responsibility for other family members. This maturity leads to resiliency. I’ve dealt with unexpected changes my whole life, such as surprise relocations or deployments, and I feel as if I am able to bounce back because expecting the unexpected became second nature. Utilizing these skills has allowed me to adapt to constant and unexpected changes in the workforce.
Neat and Organized. Being neat and organized was something that came naturally from growing up with a military parent. Although I hated doing my chores as a child, especially with the Drill Sargent attitude of a military dad, I now look back and realize he was preparing me to be an organized adult. I learned the natural skills – bathroom cleaning, laundry, dishes – and impressively enough, I can even fold a fitted sheet (which I have learned that not everyone can do.) As I watched my dad, I learned how to be more organized and structured in my day-to-day life with good time management, delegation, and ownership of responsibilities.
Growing up as a military dependent allowed me to gain a different level of skills than those who weren’t in a military family. As I continue to grow in my personal and professional career, I am thankful for this unique upbringing that allows me to use my specific set of skills and attributes.