For the better part of the past century, the United States has honored those who have served in the military on Veterans Day. Every year, Nov. 11 reminds us of the sacrifice and dedication certain individuals make in the name of the United States, its core values and fundamental principles.
While these veterans that have served our country usually receive such honors, praises and accolades, it’s also a service that’s shared with their spouses and siblings. In serving one’s country, veterans similarly ask their closest relatives to live a life of sacrifice—one altering their existence as a communal group. Families are either required to live on tour with their devoted military family members or carry on at home without their beloved ones.
In particular, children who grow up in a transient lifestyle in the wake of their parent’s career choices face an extremely unique and difficult path. These kids, often referred to as military brats, move according to a soldier’s assignments and a military’s schedule. As a result, they’re forced to adapt and figure out their uncertain surroundings. Every few years, military brats are forced to find their place in the world all over again—in new states, cities, communities and schools.
While a significant amount of military brats follow in their parents’ footsteps and join the military, a select group of this subculture find themselves immersed in music. In these cases, it’s often an escape from the strict lifestyle and constant relocation that defines their early years. Many of these brats fell into music at an early age and have continued to play professionally as they moved into adulthood.
There’s plenty of influential musicians from over the years that were once military brats, including Jim Morrison, Kris Kristofferson, Dee Dee Ramone, Tina Weymouth, Michael Stipe, Emmylou Harris and Mike Watt. For Veterans Day, we spoke to five active musicians about their experiences as the children of veterans, early lives as military brats and how those formative experiences impacted their lives and careers.