The American Military Family

Recently, my husband and I drove from Ft. Bliss, Texas, to Malmstrom AFB, Montana. Bill and I stopped at several historic military posts—some from the mid 1800’s; some more recent. In Ft. Bayard, NM, shivers ran up my spine. Ft Bayard was frozen in time—a beautiful, abandoned ghost town.

The stately Victorian era houses were boarded up. “No Trespassing” signs were taped onto the main entrance of the multistory medical center. I peered into one of the windows—The blue curtains were slightly parted; I could see a very ornate dark brown ceiling fan. I half expected to see a patient peer over the ledge back at me.

Years ago, Ft Bayard was a bustling Army post. Soldiers were busy soldiering; their families going about their daily lives. Lt John Pershing, fresh out of West Point, was stationed here. Back then; Ft Bayard was a vibrant community, full of purpose and…

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Life Apart: An Adult Military Brat Reflects

So, all military brats are familiar with separation. Our parent(s) deploys, goes out on trips, or leaves for any of a number of reasons.

It’s hard, but we manage. Heck, we’re military brats; we always manage!

Well, when you grow up as a military brat to a career sailor/soldier/whomever, that feeling of transience and distance never gets to go away.

In my family, neither parent stays one place very long. My Dad is a career sailor with 28+ years under his belt, and he still moves every 2-4 years. My Mom works for the DOD, and just moved overseas again after several years of life just south of Atlanta, Georgia.

And where do I love? Oh, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I moved here in 2006 to live close to my Dad after graduating from Lakenheath American High School, and all went well until the Navy sent him elsewhere.

Sure, I see my family often (every few months), but I still have no sense of home.

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A great article about the power and industriousness of military families, especially when it comes to a cause near and dear to them.


by Rory McClannahan | Jun 28, 2012 | Filed under: News

Circe Olson Woessner never raised her right hand and promised “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t served her country. As a wife, a mother and a daughter, she has served in a military role that you don’t hear much about on Veterans Day or Memorial Day — that of a family member.

As a girl, she followed her mother and father around the world as they worked in American Department of Defense schools that served military families. As a wife, she moved more than 20 times during her husband’s military career. And as a mother, she worries about a son who serves in the Army.

It was during her son’s deployment to Iraq when she got the idea for a museum that celebrates the American military family.

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As you can see, I’ve been up to a few new projects lately! In this post, you will learn about my role as the Brat Liaison for the Museum of the American Military Family, and you’ll learn a little bit about where I come from.


by Circe Olson Woessner,

Over the next few months, I will introduce you to one of our board members. This month, I will feature Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager, who joined us in June 2012. Here’s a little bit about her:

Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager , is a military brat, business owner, and freelance writer. Born to a career sailor and a Department of Defense employee (both with 20+ years and still going), she’s lived in six states and three countries. After receiving her Bachelor’s in English from the University of New Mexico, she combined her scholastic know-how and passion for education into a tutoring business, Learn With Rachael. Through social media, networking, and blogging, she hopes to help each military family learn about the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). She also founded the social groups,  ABQ Brats and SW Brats.

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Why I Attend Brat Reunions and Why You Should, Too

If you attend “Brat” or DODDS reunions, why do you do so?

Again, the Museum of the American Military Familys list of writing prompts for military brats has sent me scuttling to the dusty filing cabinets in my mind to share with you all just what it is about the brat or DODDS reunions that get me going.

Personally, the very first reunion I will attend will take place this Saturday in Albuquerque, NM as part of this group, ABQ Brats. I’ve lived in Albuquerque for 6 years and have been a brat much longer, so what took so long?

My first ABQ fall (Oct 2006) – Clearly, I was not prepared for non-UK weather!

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Memories of a DOD School: Lakenheath American High School

My last update on this site included a reblog of the American Military Family Museum’s blog post on Operation Footlocker. They offer an amazing service for military families all over the world, but we are incredibly fortunate to have them in this ‘hometown’ of ours.

One of my favorite features of their blog is the many writing prompts they offer for bloggers new and old, professional and amateur. So, to get started, let’s talk about our experiences!

Our first question:

Which Department of Defense schools did you attend? Give a brief-1-3 sentence memory from each. (Unfortunately, brevity is not my strong suit and I don’t want it to be.)

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We just missed it, everyone! Operation Footlocker is one of the neatest activities available to ABQ brats. To learn more, head to They’re out of ABQ!


Lifting the lid of an old military footlocker, one might expect to find folded clothing, a shaving kit and some Kiwi for polishing boots.  Instead, a footlocker packed with military families’ memories will be on display from 1100-1700 hrs. on April 13 at the Kirtland AFB Library, Bldg. 20204.
Operation Footlocker is a community outreach program sponsored by the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF), a recently formed nonprofit organization based in Albuquerque.

“Using these footlockers loaded with mementos, we want to inspire young people to learn about and uphold the ideals of national service and to inform the general public of the cost and sacrifices our military families experience as part of our national security,” said Dr. Circe Olson Woessner, the museum’s Executive Director.

Members of the MAMF Board of Directors will be on hand to answer questions about the footlocker’s contents, as well as about the…

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The Impossibility of the Past

If you are a military brat, you probably have some weird ideas about home. We all do and each idea comes from years of practice. I’m not sure if this is the case with other brats, but my particular problem is with the idea of returning. Of course, none of us really have physical homes.I claim a small town in southeastern Wisconsin as my home, and genealogically, it is. My family and their forebearers (minus the more recent German and Irish immigrants) had moved to Wisconsin from back East.

Recently, I had the fortune to dig deeply into my past and my roots go back to the Mayflower. Even for me, a patriot at heart, I had never assumed I could be so rooted. It turns out, I do have roots.
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An Inspired Mind

A sterling example of how well military brats adapt is the deep online roots they have already planted.  Before the widespread dispersion of the internet, military brats had to go out of their way to maintain connections. Today, brats can make friends before taping a single box shut. The online brat community is getting better and better and I’m glad to share my experiences within that larger realm.

I’ve decided to gain this sense of community by starting ABQ Brats. It might give me some peace and closure to help other military brats deal with the lifestyle.
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Welcome home!

Welcome, brats! Put down those bags. Take off your boots. You’re finally home.

After years of wandering the globe to support your military parents, you can officially unpack. Let’s start the next phase of our lives together. Everyone works better in a community and if you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot going on inside and no one to turn to.

Please get involved! The best way to stay informed is to follow our email updates, and you’ll receive a copy of each article in your inbox. We never sell your information to anyone and we only use this email to send your our updates.

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