MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The term "military brat" is a badge of honor claimed for many generations by people who grew up in military families. This month, the Defense Department celebrates the more than 1.6 million children of parents who are serving.
"We are three generations of military. My grandfather was in the Navy, father was in the Army National Guard and brother Matt is active Army. I am the only enlisted and love what I do," said Staff Sgt. John 'Jordan' Travis, domestic operations management support, emergency operations center, NCOIC.
John's father, Col. William 'Terry' Travis, served in the Alabama National Guard from 1989 to 2017, when he retired. His service included deployments to Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2009. Today, he is the executive assistant to the adjutant general, Alabama National Guard.
"Jordan is an outstanding NCO. He always takes time to assist the young service members. He calls it taking care of the Joes," Terry said. "Matt is my son-in-law and is on the fast track to become a general officer. Matt's dad was in the Air Force and I was in the Army Guard. Matt is an outstanding commissioned officer. Jordan excels as an NCO and Matt excels as an officer. Both are right where they need to be."
The Travis men respect and admire each other. Jordan explains that his father's first deployment in 2006 sent him to Iraq. Three years later, Jordan's first deployment to Iraq earned them both the same deployment patch.
"My dad was a lawyer growing up. After working one summer at his law firm, I knew then I wanted nothing to do with being a lawyer," Jordan said.
"When I saw my dad shut down his private law firm to deploy to Iraq, that was a moment I will never forget. I knew then that military would play a role in my life. If my dad was willing to shut down his private practice to deploy and serve his country, then I knew I needed to do my part as well."
According to the School Superintendents Association website, approximately 2 million military children have experienced a parental deployment since 2001. The impact on children and other family members can be difficult.
Each branch of the service is unique. The Citizen-Soldier must balance a full-time job and the demands of being in the National Guard. Recognizing the need to support families, especially children, the military has developed numerous resources, many offering 24-hour service.
The Family Readiness Group guides families to resilience programs, tutoring, summer camps, and tailored programs for children.
Military children learn to adapt and overcome many of the obstacles of military life. The New York Times reported in 2019: "79% of Army recruits reported having a family member who served. For nearly 30%, it was a parent – a striking point in a nation where less than 1% of the population serves in the military."
Today, Jordan has two children, "military brats" who adore their dad, the uniform, and all it stands for.
"For me, without a doubt, the military has helped me. Being a military child and now being in the military with children of my own has really given me a sense of purpose and direction," he said. "The Alabama National Guard really is like a big family. They always support the community, state and country through deployments, natural disasters, small community events and so much more."