News TCKID

News from the TCKid Community

Refusing to Be Erased

with 21 comments

An Example to Learn From:

 


Social work practice standards …  follow a client-centered approach that allows the client to be the expert of their own “personal situation and social reality.”


 

Sometimes, well meaning individuals feel moved enough to help people they do not necessarily relate to. Altruism can be a powerful thing.  I am not discouraging people who did not grow up as a TCK from helping TCK’s.  However, it is important to assess the approach used in helping others.

Social work practice standards, for example, follow a client-centered approach that allows the client to be the expert of their own “personal situation and social reality” (please see page 2, in this example from a service organization’s description of “Client-Staff Relationship”).  Note the role of the community in a client-centered approach, which also follows what is called the “strengths-based perspective”: there is a recognition of the “importance of drawing from the strengths of an individual’s family and community when developing a plan” (please see page 1, paragraph 2).

Let’s examine a case affecting U.S. military brats today. Members from the U.S. military brat community launched a social media protest, which became increasingly evident in early November of 2014, against the renaming of what they perceive more as an earned title than a word, “BRATS” (standing for Boldness, Responsibility, Adaptability, and Tolerance) to “CHAMPS,” in the book written by civilian mother and daughter team Debbie and Jennifer  Fink, The Little C.H.A.M.P.S – Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel (CHAMPS).

The early documented stages of the united effort to protest the use of the term “CHAMPS” may be found in 350 negative reviews of the book on Amazon.  Since then, the movement, affecting an estimated 15,000,000 military brats according to Marc Curtis of MilitaryBrat.com, has grown into an increasingly united front involving a petition to President Obama (currently with more than 4000 signatures), a petition to First Lady Michelle Obama, a letter writing campaign, phone calls and statements on numerous social media venues to communicate the growing sense of intense offense taken by military brats.  A December 3, 2014 Fayetteville Observer article by Susan Reynolds  spells out one of the common reactions, “It upsets me that civilians like the Finks felt that a name change was necessary. Brats are fiercely protective of their heritage; I am fiercely protective of my Brat Tribe. To come into our community and change a part of our heritage without our consent is wrong.”   Another common sentiment is about the dishonoring of the word “hero,” which should only be reserved for actual service men and women, according to multiple social media comments by military brats, as captured by December 1, 2014 Stripes: Japan article.

If one follows the progress and updates as events unfold on Facebook, one cannot deny the momentum this has gained, especially as one of the then CHAMPS supporters, the Military Child and Education Coalition, withdrew their endorsement of the book as of November 25, 2014.  Steps are also underway that involves another endorser of CHAMPS reviewing the statements made by the military brat community, to reconsider their endorsement.  The response to CHAMPS truly seems to be led by the masses of adult military brats rather than by specific leaders, including people who confess they have never used Twitter or revealed so much of themselves on Facebook ever before.

 


 The organization dismisses how today’s adult military brats … are the invisible troops who made sacrifices alongside their parents yesterday and are therefore a resource for guidance and source for empowerment for today’s military brats.


 

In response, Jennifer Fink, CEO of Operation CHAMPS, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage “civilian communities in giving back to military and veteran families” and is “devoted to supporting families at the local military installations and from the surrounding military communities through volunteerism; providing social services; and developing awareness and cultural understanding in order to bridge the gap between the military and civilian worlds” published this official statement:

In recent weeks, Operation CHAMPS’ Facebook pages, Twitter and email accounts have been barraged by accusations that Operation CHAMPS was trying to substitute “CHAMPS” for the widely used term “BRATS” in public discourse as a way to describe the children of those who serve in the United States military.  Jennifer Fink, CEO of Operation CHAMPS, called those assertions “unfounded, uninformed and untrue.   The members of Operation CHAMPS understand that many children of military and veteran families proudly call themselves BRATS.  We also understand that many people in the civilian and military-connected communities see the term brat in a less favorable light,” Fink added. “Neither the book, The Little CHAMPS, nor the organization it supports, Operation CHAMPS, intend in any way to replace BRATS as a term in wide usage or to demean the term in the minds of the public or the people who proudly call themselves military BRATS.  The acronym CHAMPS in no way rejects or denigrates the term BRATS.  Operation CHAMPS exists to provide necessary support and gratitude for military-connected children and their families.

From the above official statement, it may very well be that perhaps the Finks only meant good intentions.  Sociologist, speaker, author and military “BRAT” BJ Gallagher addresses good intentions in her Dec 1, 2014 Huffington Post article: “Still, good intentions do not give you the right to change a child’s name without her consent — nor do good intentions give you the right to change the name of an entire group of millions of children (and adult children) without their consent.

 


 According to social work practice standards, the older military brats can serve as the perfect bridge between civilians and military families.  They have been pursuing this, but have not been receiving the same level of support and recognition as Operation CHAMPS, according to long term (ie. 20-year) military brat organization leaders.


 

From a social work practice standpoint, the official statement does not seem to regard the military community as a strength to draw from nor does it seem to consider the military brats and families to be the experts of their own personal situations and social realities.  Rather, the feedback of adult military brats, who are in more of a position to speak up for themselves than their school-aged counterparts, are dismissed.  When the goals of an organization are**:  (1) “Tend to all 700,000+ elementary school-aged Champs, educating their classmates and teachers.”  (2) “Cultivate a sensitive school culture where all Champs feel understood and valued in every school setting.”  (3) “Raise cultural competence among civilians in these 4,000 communities, and engage them to give back.” and (4) “Ease the transitions from school to school, build resiliency, reduce risk, and create understanding communities.”,  one would have to wonder how the organization will show “support and gratitude” to the military brats and families.

To all the TCK’s who have experienced heated conversations  like the one described above, if persons like my colleague were to manage and implement these four goals, what do you think the services would be like?  This is not just hypothetical, but also a real situation that involves an extremely offended segment of our TCK tribe – roughly 15 million of them, according to a press release distributed on November 13, 2014.

**UPDATE: since this article was written, Operation CHAMPS has announced it will close, citing ” escalated divisive attacks from a group of adult children of military Servicemembers, which began as a difference of opinion regarding terminology” as the reason in its December 19, 2014 official statement.  Based on this updated official statement, Operation CHAMPS seems to separate today’s adult military brats from tomorrow’s adult military brats without explanation, while believing “today’s children of military Servicemembers make heroic sacrifices and deserve the undivided support of the American people.”   The organization dismisses how today’s adult military brats, who, as you will read about in “Honoring Those Who Have Come Before Us” below, are the invisible troops who made sacrifices alongside their parents yesterday and are therefore a resource for guidance and source for empowerment for today’s military brats.

According to social work practice standards, the older military brats can serve as the perfect bridge between civilians and military families.  They have been pursuing this, but have not been receiving the same level of support and recognition as Operation CHAMPS, according to long term (ie. 20-year)  military brat organization leaders (listed below) In the interview, military brats who have been serving the community discuss how they wish to proceed with services and programs for military brats.

Please visit this page at a later time for a link that will be added in the near future to an interview with military brats about this issue.  In the interview, military brats who have been serving the community discuss how they wish to proceed with services and programs for military brats.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Written by TCKid Admin

December 13, 2014 at 2:54 pm

  • Misty Corrales

    Thank you, Myra. This article eloquently states exactly what the issue is and has been about. Our identity — the past and the future. You cannot cut today’s BRAT off from yesterday’s BRAT without doing extreme harm.

    And no amount of research on the subject of the military child will ever be valid if you refuse to communicate with and include input from those who had a military childhood.

    We have every right to be angry, incensed and outraged by this hijack. And when confronted, instead of recognizing their failing and asking for input (which they would have gotten…if they were genuine), they chose to vilify us because we were criticizing them for being pure good souls who only wanted to help us.
    The first step was to acknowledge us by our name — not tell us that it was not good enough.
    They owe us a huge apology — not just for their initial hijacking, but also for their constant vilification and dismissal of us. [oh, I don’t intend to suffocate waiting for it though.]

    • Myra

      Exactly.. you put it so well! I am still hoping that some will realize their mistake in dismissing your concerns…. the way your concerns as a military brat community were dismissed makes it evident that there is an underestimation of who today’s military brats are exactly.

    • Beverly Young-Kniegge

      Well said! I needed this tribe years ago…but God used the well meaning but hurtful comments to draw me closer to Him…I now worry less what others think (yup, even in the church) n more what He thinks:)

  • Lindsay

    Eloquent is an understatement. Thank you for putting words to our feelings.

  • Mommaq

    Wow! Well thought out, expressed and speaks as if it came from my own soul. I am a proud AF BRAT! Ten schools in 13 years. It made me work at getting over the social anxiety. lol I learned that since we would probably be moving in a year, I had better make friends fast or I would be lonely all year! Thank you for putting words to the song in my heart. ~hugs~

    • Myra

      Yes as a civilian and foreign service brat, I completely relate to that! I think I invested time into this article because I was just trying to make connections when I felt overwhelmed with a spirit of rejection… extreme rejection in the skepticism of that conversation and the rejection of the precious voice of military brats ( some of whom also happen to be Vietnam vets!)

  • lmba03

    “Please visit this page to watch an interview with military brats about this issue and how they wish to proceed with services and programs for military brats.”

    I’ve read the article twice and I still can’t figure out what “this page” is to watch the video and who “they” are? Is they a generic reference to older military brats? A specific brats organization and its leaders? Or an individual brat and a video they made? This is mixed in with a paragraph talking about Operation CHAMPS in the previous sentence. I don’t think the they is them even though they are the closest antecedent!?!

    Overall a very good and articulate article – but needs a once over to tighten up the grammar.

    • tckid

      Thanks! That one sentence was clarified to : “Please visit this page at a later time for a link that will be added in the near future to an interview with military brats about this issue. In the interview, we also discuss how they wish to proceed with services and programs for military brats.” … “this page” refers to this, here, page that this article is on.

  • Robert L Webster

    Bravo Myra. WOW! I was going to say much more, but…WOW.

    • Myra

      Robert, thank you for remaining very supportive and a great resource to partner with for the TCK community. I look forward to working with you as this year unfolds.

  • Susan Haney

    Thank you for writing this. It’s important to have a calm and erudite voice on this issue, and you have provided it.

    • Myra

      Thank you, Susan. Believe me, I also had to find stillness before writing this. I was offended alongside you all.

  • Beverly Young-Kniegge

    I hope all of our TCK experiences can encourage each other…I have forgiven unthoughtful comments, but feel I can use that experience to encourage others…if you’re new to an area and someone says ” You don’t seem to have any friends” turn a deaf ear…it does not define you. If someone puts down what you share comparing you to a Seattle street kid, they have no clue and no gift of empathy…please don’t let rude comments define how you feel about a place you live…it has taken me 20 years to forgive…may you be able to sooner:)

    • Myra

      Thank you, Beverly. Yes I am in similar shoes as you – I just wanted to help those who have experienced being dismissed know that they are not alone. Writing and connecting with you all helped me move beyond how insensitive comments affected me.

  • http://www.TravelBeyondExcuse.com/ Lily Ann Fouts

    Thank you for bringing up some important issues, Myra. To the outsider our TCK experiences may seem trivial since they have no way to relate. I agree that our TCK needs are best met by other TCKs who have firsthand experience with the issues. I feel very fortunate that my experience as a TCK was more on the “gifts”/positive side, but I can certainly relate to some of the TCK challenges which I only really feel comfortable discussing with other TCKs. And your premise of protecting our identity as TCKs/military brats/whatever the case may be is spot on.

    • Myra

      Thank you Lily! It’s nice to hear that you could relate and agree to this as a civilian TCK!

  • Michael A Payne

    I await the completion of this treatise with bated breath and unbridled anticipation. The link to this article has become my standard for introduction of the uninitiated to the CHAMPS/BRAT fracas (and all things TCK)
    You have drawn up a dictionary, encyclopedic entry, historical document, and contact list/bios, in five easy pages that explains the basics (plus) clearly and concisely.
    Keep an extra copy on hand, ‘cuz I think I’m going to wear this one out.

  • Kay Harrell Kern

    As much as those close to me try to understand the struggles a Brat has undergone, they will admit that they don’t completely understand. Visiting my son recently we were discussing how many schools I attended, 15 total, which included 4 high schools (2 years in the same school), he lovingly said “no wonder you have wanderlust.”

    • Myra

      Hi Kay… yes, those experiences are one of the things we have in common… I attended 3 high schools and spent 2 years in one school too! We need more people like us in leadership positions so that little things like this aren’t easily dismissed.