I left the Air Force when I was 18

Col James B Archer – Arlington National Cemetery

Any BRATS out there?     You know – right?

Each Labor Day, I post an image like this one – for my Dad – because I truly appreciate the service that people like my father have given to our country.    Like many, I grew up in the military lifestyle.  I am a BRAT.  I spent my youth travelling from base to base – changing schools – always the new kid.  I learned how to talk to anybody – but I learned that it was dangerous to really get attached to anyone – either I, or they, would be leaving soon.  There are people from my youth that even Google can’t find. I have no idea where in the world they are… (Pablo… you out there, Man?)

Do I miss it?  Yes.

  1. I still have that wanderlust. It’s actually HARD for me to stay in one place year after year.
  2. Even now – nearly 40 years later – I miss my ID card – and being able to go through the front gates.
  3. I miss the mess halls, and USOs at the airports.
  4. I miss the travel, and the people.

I’m so grateful for the experience that time gave me. Even now – when I cross paths with other brats, we have an instant bond.  We don’t come from the same “home town in Iowa”.  Our “home town” is the whole world. But we share that.

I tell people that when I turned 18, instead of joining the military, that’s when I left.   I say it in a joking manner, but under that is a strong bond with that life.  I’m proud of it.  Those were the most important formative years of my life.  And I wouldn’t change them for anything.




James Archer

James Archer is the founder of The ShareLingo Project - a Social Enterprise that connects English and Spanish speakers for face-to-face practice. This model breaks down both linguistic and cultural barriers for individuals, businesses, and non-profits.

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