'Military Brats' Publish Magazine

A new magazine for military kids, written by the sons and daughters of soldiers, has been distributed to hundreds of commissaries worldwide. Military Brats is published by a military mom at Fort Drum in upstate New York. North Country Public Radio's David Sommerstein reports.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

More than 1 million children have parents in the U.S. military. They move every time their parents are assigned to a new base. They may have to cope with a parent's deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. And they are the market for a magazine for military brats. It's written for kids and by kids. Here's North Country Public Radio's David Sommerstein.

DAVID SOMMERSTEIN reporting:

A few years ago, Misty and Sean Burris were moving their three kids again. Sean, an army helicopter mechanic, was reassigned from Hawaii to Fort Drum -north of Syracuse, New York. Misty says the family had also lived in Virginia, California, and Germany.

Ms. MISTY BURRIS (Creator, Military Brats Magazine): As my kids were getting older, the move was getting so much harder. Their friends were closer. And I could give them my information, but it wasn't what they were looking for.

SOMMERSTEIN: The military offers piles of brochures to help spouses survive the disorientation of a move. But Burris says there wasn't anything that spoke directly to her children.

Ms. BURRIS: If the mom's unhappy, everybody else is unhappy - that may be one thing. But if the kids are unhappy...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BURRIS: ...everybody's unhappy.

SOMMERSTEIN: By the time Burris arrived at Fort Drum, her oldest was nearly a teenager. Burris had drawn up a business plan for a new magazine for military teens, written by their peers. The first issue of Military Brats was distributed to bases this summer. Its 250,000 copies disappeared in just a few weeks. Now, Burris' staff of 15 teen columnists is hard at work on a follow up.

(Soundbite of typing)

Mr. SETH BABCOCK (Writer, Military Brats Magazine): Watch the...

SOMMERSTEIN: Sixteen-year-old Seth Babcock is transcribing an interview at a computer in the magazine's offices in Watertown, near Fort Drum. Babcock's family is civilian, but he's close with military kids in school. He says they can be shy and afraid to meet friends when they arrive in a new place.

Mr. BABCOCK: Through the magazine, they can find out that people have similar experiences all over the world, not just where they are.

SOMMERSTEIN: Military Brats is a glossy, busy 100 pages. There are profiles of a dozen bases. The Department of Defense gets its own section. In the first issue, it highlights youth programs. There's also video game and movie reviews, an advice column, and fashion survey. And lots of ads help front the magazine's $300,000 production costs.

Ms. BURRIS: Ooh, yeah. Like, could you do that? Would that work?

Unidentified Woman: I love doing them all. It's so much fun, yes.

Unidentified Man: No, it's too small.

SOMMERSTEIN: Misty Burris and six teens gather at a table to sketch out the next issue. One feature is called the space in between. It's about coping with a parent's absence during a deployment. Misty's son Sean says his dad deployed to Bosnia when he was six, and it made him grow up fast. He says he wants other kids to know they're not alone.

Mr. SEAN BURRIS (Son of Misty Burris, Writer for Military Brats Magazine): Because going through things on your own really stinks. I know I didn't like it, being the only guy around and having to deal with my sisters.

SOMMERSTEIN: Aside from talk of deployments, you'd hardly know there was a war in Iraq or Afghanistan by reading Military Brats. Sean Burris and his sister Ashley - who writes the advice column - say it's intentional. They avoid politics.

Ms. ASHLEY BURRIS (Daughter of Misty Burris, Writer for Military Brats Magazine): Some people may have one idea, and if we explain another, they might not think it's right.

Mr. BURRIS: Everyone has their own opinion about it, and it should be their opinion.

SOMMERSTEIN: Misty Burris says the kids hear enough about Iraq in their daily lives. They live the news. She says the magazine is intended to be a safe haven for kids to feel good about being a military brat. The magazine's second issue is expected to go to press later this fall.

For NPR News, I'm David Sommerstein in northern New York.

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