Dedicated to my father, Darryl Shyiak.
My father is a military man. He’s a pilot, a leader, and a hard worker.
I am a military brat. I’ve been living the military life since the day I was born. I went home to a PMQ, or personnel married quarters, which looked the same as every house on the block. I moved four times before grade four and I have said goodbye to more friends than I can count.
But I wouldn’t change it.
The opportunities I have had because I’m a military kid are amazing, and out of reach for so many. The friends I have made have all touched my life in unique and meaningful ways.
When I was seven I moved to Alabama with my family so my dad could go to an international military staff college. It was my first exposure to culture other than my own (believe me they think different down south). I hung out with kids from Alabama but also some from Sweden, Australia, and Denmark. I learned that people live differently than I do all over the world. I also learned people will make assumptions about the way you live (an Alabamian friend actually asked if we lived in igloos in Canada).
When I was 16 I got to go with a bunch of other military brats aged 16-24 to Israel. We slept in the desert, climbed the Masada, rode camels, walked in Old Jerusalem and covered ourselves in mud before jumping into the Dead Sea.
Over and above that we got to do some things that not many people will ever get the chance to. Everyone fit for service serves in the Israeli army. That includes “trouble” cases like addicts and delinquents. There’s a base in Israel where many of these “trouble” cases receive their training. All their superiors are women because they’ve found more success with women running the show. Not only did we get to go there, we ate there, spent time there and got to talk to the women who serve as superior officers.
When I was 18 my mom, my dad and I moved to Rome while my dad did more international military courses, this time at the N.A.T.O. staff college. Rome was amazing. I spent half my time trying to learn Italian and the other half trying to order pizza in Italian. Oh and then I spent a lot of time eating the pizza too.
Military life is a life of adventure. I could never trade the people I’ve met or the things I’ve done. Most importantly life as a military kid has taught me a lot. I have learned to be open-minded about people, the way they live and their culture. I have learned to adjust quickly to change, embrace it even. I am so grateful for how full my life has been because of my dad’s job. So, thanks dad.