"Military brat" and various "brat" derivatives describe the child of a parent (or parents) serving full-time in the armed forces, and can also refer to the unique subculture and lifestyle of American military brats. The term refers to both current and former children of such families.
The "military brat lifestyle" (with exceptions in some cases) involves moving to new states or countries many times while growing up as the child's military family is customarily transferred, along with the soldier-parent, to new non-combat assignments; consequently, many military brats never have a hometown. War-related family stresses are also a commonly occurring part of military brat life. There are also other aspects of military brat life that are significantly different in comparison to the civilian American population, often including living in foreign countries and or diverse regions within the U.S., exposure to foreign languages and cultures, and immersion in military culture.
"Military brats" (especially current and former children of career military families) are largely viewed by themselves and by those who study them as a "distinct, 200 year-old American subculture", with millions of members. The age of the phenomenon has meant military brats have also been described by a number of researchers as one of the America's oldest and yet least well-known and largely invisible subcultures. They have also been described as a "modern nomadic subculture".
"Military brat" is known in U.S. military culture as a term of endearment and respect and may also imply a certain "spunkiness" or adaptability. The term may also (for those brats who grow up moving a lot) connote a military brat's experience of mobile upbringing, or as a world traveler, or global citizen, or may reference a sense of worldliness. Research has shown that most current and former military brats like the term; however, outside of the military world, the term "military brat" can sometimes be misunderstood by the non-military population, where the word "brat" (by itself) may be seen as negative, especially in mainstream American usage.