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Brats Without Borders

December 18, 2011Happy Holidays!

Holiday greetings from Brats Without Borders! I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. It can be a difficult time for some, too, so if you know a brat or TCK who could use some kind words, a helping hand, or just a good laugh - reach out. You'll be glad you did!

2011 has been a quiet, but busy year for BWB - focused more on production than distribution. We finished developing our train-the-trainer workshops for brat & TCK parents, educators, and childcare professionals. We put together beta versions of a BRATS/TCK curriculum and transition workshops for teens. I wrote a feature film about growing up on an Army base in the Pacific in the 1970s. And we shot the first footage for "TRUMAN'S KIDS," the new documentary about the effect integration of the military has had on military children over time.

We also attended the national Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, DC, and had some wonderful conversations with various groups about future projects and collaborations. We started designing a new, more inclusive website for brats and TCKs of all stripes - military, foreign service, corporate, etc. I truly believe that our similarities far outweigh our differences, and the more we combine our communities and efforts, the more we can accomplish!

Before we move on to all the brat news, I want to take a moment to mark the passing of two people I much admired - my third grade teacher in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, Marlene Knudson Koenig - and the playwrite and former President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel. "Hero" is an overused word these days, but in these two cases, I think it is more than appropriate. Marlene used to say, "Children won't remember what you teach them, but they'll remember how you treat them." I certainly did.

Marlene Knudson Koenig         Vaclav Havel

Now for more "brat" and "TCK" news, read on. And have a wonderful holiday - wherever you happen to be!

Warm regards,
Donna Musil, Executive Director
Brats Without Borders, Inc.

BRATS Hall of Fame
Congratulations to Robert Lee Griffin, III (nickname "RG3"), an Army brat and the starting quarterback at Baylor who just won the Heisman Trophy!

Army Brat amp; Heisman Trophy Winner Robert Griffin, III

Griffin was born in Japan, where his parents, Robert Jr. and Jacqueline, were both U.S. Army Sergeants. His family later lived in Washington State, New Orleans, and finally Copperas Cove, Texas (aka Fort Hood). True to the "brat" tradition, Griffin is not just an excellent athlete, he's an excellent scholar, too. He started college at 17 and graduated early with a 3.67 GPA in political science (no basket-weaving for this brat). He's currently studying for a Masters in Communication and plans to go to law school once his football career is over. Go, RG3! We're rooting for you!

Colorado Ski Trip!
Beaver Creek Resort in Breckenridge
If you love skiing, you might be interested in Beaver Run Resort's Alumni Ski Week, January 21-28, 2012, in Breckenridge, Colorado. The rates are great and it's a lot of fun! (I went last year with a group of brats.) It's not an "official" brat trip sponsored by BWB or any other brat group - but a number of brats from around the country are going, so it should be fun!

GI Film Festival
As some of you are aware, "BRATS: Our Journey Home" was supposed to be broadcast on the Military Channel this year as part of the G.I. Film Festival Series (led by the wonderful brat Major Laura Law and her husband Brandon Millett), but the series has been postponed. Hopefully, it will still happen. In the meantime, we're looking into alternative broadcast options. If you know of anyone we should contact, let us know. We'll keep you updated!

Quote of the Day
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What?! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
- C.S. Lewis, Author

Do You Have the Quintessential "BRAT" Photo or Video?
Use of Photo Donated by the Willis Family
Brats Without Borders is collecting photographs, video footage, and memorabilia of quintessential "brat" and "TCK" experiences - good, bad, or just plain funny - for a future traveling museum exhibit and other projects. If you have anything you'd like to contribute, email us a description and/or photograph, but hold on to your originals for now. We'll contact you as the projects move forward.

Do We Need a Military Brat Safety Net Conference?
MK Safety Net Conference
In September's Among Worlds magazine, there was an advertisement for a Missionary Kid Safety Net Conference, called "The Unexpected Journey." The conference is geared towards breaking the silence about trauma, abuse, and recovery among missionary families. Do you think Brats Without Borders needs to put together a Military Brat Safety Net Conference? If so, would you be willing to volunteer your time or services? Let us know!

BRATS on Facebook:
Your Virtual Hometown

BWB: Your Virtual Hometown
Brats Without Borders is fast becoming the Virtual Hometown for many brats and TCKs. Military brat Melody Whitesitt Padgett, of Manhattan, Kansas, confirmed this recently when she posted: "I just shared some of our posts with my father who is in his late 70s. This site has opened discussions with him that I might never have had - little bits of our shared world history from the soldier and family view of it. His response about this site was 'It's your hometown.'"

There have been some real heartfelt and thought-provoking conversations on BWB's Facebook sites on just about every topic imagineable, from the positive to the painful. We try to keep it "brat-related" (i.e., no politics or religion). Stop by when you can and add your 2 cents! Here are all of our Facebook sites:
Your Virtual Hometown       BWB on Facebook
BOJH on Facebook       We Want a Military Brats Show on TV!

More BRAT & TCK Organizations!
Overseas Brats
Overseas Brats
Military Brats Registry
Military Brats Registry
Military Brats Online
Military Brats Online

BWB's Military Brat Library and Training Workshops
BRATS Workshops
If you're interested in donating a BWB Military Brat Library to a local school or institution... or underwriting a BWB Training or Teen Transition Workshop, let us know. Money is tight at educational institutions right now, but brats and their caregivers need this information to help avoid the pitfalls of "growing up brat." A base in Japan wanted us to conduct workshops at their high school last fall, but neither of us could find the funding. If you can help, please do.

Military Brat Library

More BRATS Tell Their Stories!

Here are a few new books you might want to add to your "BRATS" Collection. There's something for everyone - young, old, military brats stationed in Germany and the Pacific, foreign service and other Third Culture Kids. Go to our Brats Helping Brats page to see more brat books. Also visit military mom Phyllis Zimbler Miller's wonderful web page, If we don't support ourselves, who will?

Along the Watchtower by Constance Squires

Along the Watchtower

"I loved this book. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I wanted to throw my arms around that hard-headed little military brat searching for roots in her rootless world. In the end, she realizes what every survivor eventually does–no one is going to save you, you have to do it yourself."
-- Donna Musil, BRATS Director

Watchtower Author and Army Brat, Constance Squires, explains how this wonderful book came to fruition: "When I was a kid living on an Army base in Germany in the early 80's, I fell in love with the depth and variety of history available in Europe. And I noticed something: we know what we know about the people who lived before us in two ways: by what they built and what they wrote. I'm not builder, like my brother, but I am a writer, and when I think of people a couple of hundred years from now trying to understand who Americans were during the last half of the 20th century, I want them to know the story of Americans who lived in Germany during the Cold War, who lived "Along the Watchtower" when the Iron Curtain was no mere metaphor and the threat of communism was real.

When I saw Donna Musil's excellent documentary, "Brats: Our Journey Home," I had written and published a few short stories that drew on my background as an Army brat growing up in Grafenwoehr, West Germany, and the idea was already taking form in my mind that I might have a novel in me about the brat experience. Seeing "Brats" gave me the strength of my conviction because it showed me that I wasn't the only person who thought the lives of service families were unique and who noticed how underrepresented our story is in the national narrative. I think an American history that doesn't tell the story of American service members and their families is incomplete.

Brat Author Constance Squires So I delved more deeply into that material, creating the Collins family, an American Army family who live in Grafenwoehr and later in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Along the Watchtower takes the Collins family through the end of the Cold War, ending when Major Collins returns to Fort Sill after serving in the first Gulf War, when one era is over and another is just beginning. I hope the novel adds to the conversation started by Donna Musil's "Brats: Our Journey Home," Pat Conroy's The Great Santini, Mary Edwards Wertsch's Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress, and other books and films. I hope it's a fun read, and I hope other Brats find something in the book to relate to, something to make them feel a part of something that will be remembered and that mattered."

Soldiering On - Finding My Homes by Christine Kriha Kastner

Soldiering On - Finding My Homes

"Christine Kastner's charmed memoir of her Army brat childhood will resonate with so many. For those of us who grew up in that life, this is how we go home again: sharing our stories, finding the roots that shaped us."
-- Mary Edwards Wertsch

A military brat returns to Okinawa 40 years after attending Kubasaki High School and has the adventure of a lifetime - just not quite the karaoke, sake, and pachinko experience she expected!

Writing Out of Limbo: The International Childhood Experience of Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids edited by Gene H. Bell-Villada and Nina Sichel with Faith Eidse and Elaine Neil Orr

Writing Out of Limbo

"This terrific and substantial volume is a vital step in clarifying the experiences, gifts, and struggles of those who grew up around the world... I can't wait to teach with it."
-- Wendy Laura Belcher, Ph.D.,
Professor of Literature,
Princeton University

A groundbreaking collection of memoirs, interviews, theory, and poetry exploring TCK experiences in military, diplomatic corps, international business, education, and missionary families... and their ever-present search for belonging. Included in this collection is Writer-Director Donna Musil's first written account of her struggle to produce and distribute the BRATS film.

Flyby by William Wiseman

A novel about an Air Force brat who is mysteriously catapulted back in time to 1943 as the reincarnation of a bomber squadron commander to lead the most disastrous raid flown in the history of the 8th Air Force. The author is an Air Force brat who grew up in Ethiopia, Germany, and the United States.

And Don't Forget the BRATS Films!

BRATS: Our Journey Home  Brats Raw: Kristofferson & Schwarzkopf
Stock up on extra copies of the award-winning documentary about growing up military for your family and friends! Other TCKs (corporate, foreign service, NGO, and missionary) also relate. Enter the code "PROUDBRAT" on the order page to get a 10% discount on your entire order! But act quick - the offer is only good until 12/31/2011. All purchases support Brats Without Borders and its nonprofit programs.

Let's Get BRATCON Radio
Back on the Air!


We have some sad news to report. BRATCON Radio announced on November 10, 2011, that it has stopped broadcasting for lack of funds.

BRATCON Radio is the first national Internet radio show exploring the experiences of brats and TCKs. It's a wonderful show that has featured thought-provoking topics and exciting guests like senator John McCain, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, Author Sarah Bird, and "Army Wives" Actor Terry Serpico - all proud brats! In September, BRATCON Radio crested 19,000 listeners!

Along with Ashley Furniture Homestores, BRATCON Co-creators and Hosts Dennis Campbell and Pat Glock Caves spent their own time and money to get this show up and running. Asssociate Producer and Co-Host Jeri Glass dedicated many tireless hours searching for and vetting quality topics and guests. Other brats, including web guru Cate Speer, made this one-of-a-kind show possible. If you or your company would like to sponsor future BRATCON broadcasts, please contact Dennis at

Once again, we need to support brat programs like BRATCON Radio as a community, if we want to honor our heritage and help millions of brats and TCKs around the globe know they do have a "home" - each other. To listen to all 52 episodes from 2011, visit BRATCON Radio's web archives!

Military Brats Outperform Public School Students!

Military Kids at Fort Knox

Stuttgart Alumni Director Patricia Hein forwarded an exciting article in the New York Times the other day - "Military Children Stay a Step Ahead of Public School Students." Ignoring the obvious - that military base schools are the quintessential public schools - congratulations to all the little brats! We're so proud of you.

Journalist Michael Winerip reported that military kids outperformed their peers in reading and math and significantly closed the gap between black and white students. Interestingly enough, base schools are not subject to either President Bush's No Child Left Behind program or President Obama's Race to the Top. Standardized tests do not dominate and are not used to rate teachers, principals, or schools.

So why do brats do so well? DoDEA director Marilee Fitzgerald says they let "individual schools decide what to focus on." The smaller class size, almost equivalent to private school classes, contributes - as do the smooth relations between management and a very strong teachers' union. Most military commands and families also put a premium on education.

But Brats Without Borders Executive Director Donna Musil thinks the reason is two-fold. "Moving takes its toll on military children, but it also gets their brain synapses sparking like mad! Meeting different people, experiencing different points-of-view... it makes them question their assumptions. It makes them think. I believe brats of color do so well because they're treated like human beings first, not colors. It's pretty simple. Make the playing field truly level and people will respond accordingly."

USAA Celebrates Military Brats with BWB!

Donna Musil at USAA

Earlier this year, the financial services company, USAA, invited Brats Without Borders Executive Director Donna Musil to be their guest speaker in San Antonio for their Military Appreciation Day Honoring Military Brats. Donna spoke to a packed crowd of mostly adult military brats who work for USAA. People laughed and bonded, and a few even cried. One of USAA's marketing managers told Donna afterwards, "If you had told me people would react like that, would bond together over being brats, I wouldn't have believed it. I had to see it for myself."

The night before the presentation, Donna shared a lively dinner with close to a dozen members of USAA's VetNet team, USAA's new online social media community. In 2010, USAA was voted second best military-friendly employer in the Army Times Publishing Company's first-ever "Best for Vets" award program. USAA was honored for its strong commitment to recruiting, training and retaining military service members, spouses and veterans.

Update on "Truman's Kids" - the New Documentary About Race and the Military Child!

Truman Integrates Military

In September, we shot our first footage for "TRUMAN'S KIDS," the new documentary about the effect President Truman's integration of the military in 1948 has had on military children over time. We interviewed one of the first black generals in America, Retired Major General Oliver Dillard, along with his daughter Diane, a Heidelberg graduate, and his son Oliver, Jr.

We could make an entire documentary on General Dillard alone. He grew up in a small coal-mining town in Alabama. He was valedictorian of his segregated high school and attended three years at the Tuskegee Institute before being drafted into World War II at 19 years old. He was wounded in Korea and his unit was the last to desegregate. In 1964, he became the first black officer to attend the National War College. While there, he earned a Masters in International Affairs at George Washington University. He served multiple tours in Vietnam, and later became the Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Intelligence. He was also one of a hundred retired generals and admirals who signed a formal statement calling for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

General Dillard, a Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient, was in the military before, during, and after desegration. He has a lot to say about this subject and we are honored that he and his family have agreed to be part of this documentary. If you'd like to contribute stories, photographs, or footage, please fill out our Questionnaire/Mailing List. This is the first documentary in history to delve deeply into this subject from the military child point-of-view. Let us know what you think!

More "Military Brats" Cartoons by Steve Dickenson & Todd Clark!

Spread the Word - Join BWB's Facebook, MySpace, and the BRATS Forum!
Keep on spreading the word through our 4 Facebook sites: Brats Without Borders Facebook site, "BRATS: Our Journey Home" Facebook site, Military Brats & Third Culture Kids - Our Virtual "Hometown" Facebook site, We Want a Military Brats Show on TV! Facebook site, MySpace, Twitter pages, and our Brats Support Network & Discussion Forum! Link to us on your websites and tell your family and friends! And don't forget to join our mailing list, so we can keep you updated!

BOJH on YouTube       BWB on Facebook       USAbrats on Twitter       BOJH on MySpace       BOJH on Facebook       We Want a Military Brats Show on TV!
Donate to BWB!

If Brats Without Borders, the BRATS film, or any of our other programs have made a difference in your life or someone you know, please say thanks by contributing whatever you can, so we can continue our work. Every little bit helps. Some of the future programs your tax-deductible donations to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit will support include:
  • Publishing a curriculum and reading guide to accompany the BRATS film for educational institutions.
  • Collating the hundreds of questionnaires, photos, and other archival materials Brats Without Borders has collected over the past thirteen years into a scientific database.
  • Producing a series of Public Service Announcements and a corresponding website that raises awareness about the challenges of growing up brat/TCK and provides resources for individuals and families.
  • Conducting Train-the-Trainer BRATS Workshops for military parents, educators, and child-care professionals, and BRATS Transition Workshops for Teens to help them transition out of the military or home from an overseas assignment.
  • Donating more Military Brat Libraries to on- and off-base public libraries to raise the awareness of the contributions and sacrifices of military children.
  • Producing "Truman's Kids," a new documentary about the effect President Truman's Executive Order integrating the military in 1948 has had on military children.

You can also help BWB raise funds for our programs and documentaries by going to GoodSearch and GoodShop and designating "Brats Without Borders" as your beneficiary. Just search and shop as you normally would and BWB will receive a portion of the proceeds!

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

Brats Without Borders is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. Our mission is to support military "brats" and other "third culture kids" (children raised in more than one country/culture) of all ages. We email newsletters once a month to once a quarter. If you do not want to be on our mailing list, please let us know!

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Mailing address: Brats Without Borders, Inc., P.O. Box 9186, Denver, CO 80209
Telephone: +1 855-USA-BRAT (855-872-2728)

Copyright (C) 2011 Brats Without Borders, Inc. All rights reserved.