BRATS: Our Journey Home A Donna Musil Film Featuring Narration and Music by Kris Kristofferson
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Military brats view their lives positively
They say the lifestyle made them more 'resilient' and gave them the chance to see the world.
By Margo Rutledge Kissell
Dayton Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, June 15, 2007

As a little girl, Lisa Kliebert-Witt looked forward to attending military parades and change of command ceremonies at Air Force bases with her father, Master Sgt. Joseph C. Kliebert.

She loved seeing him in uniform and was dazzled by all the protocol.

"It was kind of a flashy thing," recalled Kliebert-Witt of Huber Heights, who retired two years ago from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.

The girl who proudly wore an "I'm a brat" T-shirt enjoyed meeting people from different countries when her father served as liaison for allied officers while stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., in 1964.

But she hated seeing him go off to war in December 1966.    She also didn't like moving and having to make new friends.

At 49, Kliebert-Witt now cherishes her experience as an Air Force brat and realizes it played a major part in shaping her identity.

"What I got as a person out of that, I think it was more evident as I became senior in rank.    From that early exposure daddy gave me as a young child, I was more independent.    I adapted quicker," she said. "I still hated saying goodbye, but it made me more resilient as a child."

Another proud military brat, Olga Ramos, who attended six schools in 12 years, is featured in the documentary film, BRATS: Our Journey Home, that will be shown at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Pat at 7:30 p.m today.    Her father, Brig. Gen. Antonio J. Ramos, retired from the Air Force in 1999 while stationed at Wright-Pat.

The term "military brat" is one people are proud of, not offended by, said documentary co-producer Timothy Wurtz.

"It goes back to the 19th century when the only (military) people allowed to marry were officers. The people (posted) at forts in the West referred to officers' kids as brats because they had to be protected. And it stuck," Wurtz said.

The documentary is also the work of independent filmmaker and former military brat Donna Musil.

"What this movie and the research and everything else has led to is the emotional feeling that we do have a home, but it's not a place.    It's a group of people," Wurtz said.

Ramos agreed.

"The benefits of this kind of experience is that it allows for you to see the world and experience things that most people spend a lifetime only imagining," she said in an e-mail.    "By the time I was 17 I had seen the sunset over the Grand Canyon, snorkeled in Hanauma Bay, water skied in the Panama Canal, saw the fireworks on the Fourth of July while sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, attended a festival on an Apache Reservation, hiked the Badlands of South Dakota . . . (and) hiked to the top of El Junque national rain forest."
The first documentary about growing up military.