Monday, December 8, 2014


The BRAT medal.
In December 2013, I posted something on a new book called CHAMPs, which stands for Child Hero Attached to Military Personnel.

The idea behind the book is that it would replace the existing term BRATs, which in one etymology (see below for others) used to mean "British Regiment Attached Traveler", but came to mean a child that is restless and not totally familiar with local behavioral conventions.

Brats are not necessarily military kids. I was a U.N. Brat and there are Embassy Brats. My Dad worked for the OSS during the war and when the United Nations was created in San Francisco, he was at the conference on behalf of the U.S. Budget Bureau. He became the Secretary of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization and worked for them for nearly two decades, when I was growing up. He was then appointed Senior Director, the #3 spot in the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. So we lived all over - in Washington, DC, Montreal, Dublin, Paris and Geneva and I attended schools and universities in Montreal, Dublin, Yorkshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oxford and Washington, DC.

The CHAMPs book has since come under attack. Guess what? Military children actually like being called BRATs, which is said to stand for (see medal above):
  • Brave,
  • Resourceful,
  • Adaptable,
  • Tolerant.
This acronym is not the only one associated with the term "brat", nor does everyone agree that an acronym is the origin of the term. Wiktionary says it derives from an Old English slang term meaning "beggar's child" - originally from northern and western England and the Midlands dialects - from the word for a "makeshift or ragged garment"; probably the same word as Old English bratt.

There are nearly 30 comments on my post last year, all of them defending the Brat moniker. There is a petition on to use Brat as the preferred term. It has 4,000 signatures. Apparently they "need" 100,000 signatures. The petition is here.

I've emailed Debbie Fink, author of CHAMPs, to see if she has anything further she wants to say.


The next letter I received from Debbie Fink was an announcement that Operation CHAMPS is closing down.


  1. You are definitely a diplomatic BRAT. :) Good luck, sir.

  2. Thank you from the bottom of my pea picking BRAT heart.

  3. Thank you for hearing our collective voices and for acknowledging us. That is something the Finks have yet to do. I can only hope she and her family are learning that we don't need an outsider to rebrand us (especially when it's all for profit) and that we are a band of proud Brats. From one Brat to another, thank you, sir.

  4. Thank you for your attempt to have the Finks discuss their book

  5. CHAMPS is closing down. Just received a letter - posted here -

  6. I would have been very surprised if they had responded re: the pushback. They have treated us very dismissively from the beginning, as if we couldn't possibly have anything to say about growing up military. They persisted in seeing our culture as damaging and insisted in passing that perception to the children who are living it. This could all have been avoided if they had looked at our lives from a position of respect and empathy. Instead, they behaved as though they felt as if they alone were saving the little damaged children.

  7. I predict a lot of finger pointing towards BRATs for 'bullying' them into closing by using threats, etc.

    I have been trying to find their financial statements to no avail at this point. I have a feeling there is something within those that could be damning. It will be nice to have that information in hand as the fingers start getting pointed.