PCS means Permanent Change of Station in the military world. In our family, we do this about every 3 years. No PCS is ever perfect. It always has its own set of “challenges”. This PCS in particular has left quite the mark. I have only cried twice so far. I must say that is an improvement from the past. Regardless of these ‘fails’, I will be excited to be here when all the crap washes off. Moving is always a process. It doesn’t mean I am miserable, it just means I am being honest about where I am at the moment. I am looking forward to looking back and sitting in wonderment of how I did this alone. God definitely has some strong arms because He is the only one holding me up right now.
Before I share these with you, I should tell you how insane it has been lately so you can understand why we have so many ‘fails’. JR returned from deployment at the end of May. We jumped right in get our orders mode, which is an insane process all on its own. Readjusting to being back together was tough but we were at least focused on something else. The kids finished up school and dance. We jumped in the car and drove to Tennessee to get some of our stuff and visit family. We returned to get our house in order to rent in DC. Unexpectedly, we had to get renters for our home in Oklahoma. JR spent the week before our pack out with his mom in another state due to illness. (Please keep her in your prayers). Then we went to live in temporary housing on base. JR went TDY for a week, and we came here. That’s all in 2 months, folks. That’s enough for a lifetime but that’s our life. Many other military families have been through much more and much worse so I do count my blessings through all of this. Getting this all down helps me find the humor in it all.
1. Don’t be passive if your husband is deployed when you get your RIP (notification of assignment). Stay on the EMFP process. Show up at their office. Don’t be shy! We got medical clearance way too late (not our fault) even though we had our stuff in early which resulted in very late orders. The late orders resulted in no availability in lodging on base for temporary housing and many of the following fails below. Definitely a big regret of mine now.
2. Give your wife, who is traveling alone with your children, the correct time of the flight. Don’t make her show up at 2 when the flight is at 1050. The 8 mega heavy bags are not fun to carry around the airport with children. Thank God for sister in laws who rescue you from 6 hours of misery!
3. Don’t go to an overcrowded USO who makes you get rid of your cart and yell at you for taking a drink in the wrong area. It’s not worth it. Just don’t do it. You are all ready in a fragile state from the wrong flight time.
4. Make sure you have the correct orders when checking into your military rotator flight to another country. Make sure you and your children are listed on these orders or you will have a break down among 100 airmen and soldiers who are on your flight.
5. Don’t forget to charge your phone before you leave your house. Otherwise, in the middle of your mental breakdown in the airport, you can’t call your husband to fix the orders.
6. DO NOT leave the country without COFFEE! Yes, it’s true. You think you will just pick some up at the commissary but it’s rationed in Germany due to some tax law. Yes, you could buy it on the economy, but you have no idea how to get to a store much less drag your kids. This incident alone set the tone for the insanity that follows.
7. Don’t forget when you charge your DVD player for the 7 hour flight to turn it off so you can use it on the flight. Yep, DVDless for 7 hours.
8. If traveling ahead of your husband, get a special power of attorney before you leave the states for housing. This holds up everything, utilities, VAT forms, coffee cards. Coffee is the most important thing here.
9. Don’t spend 2 hours putting together a tall fan because the instructions are in German. Chances are it will break. A table fan takes 5 minutes and no screwdriver needed. You will need to know that righty tighty and lefty lucy don’t apply here as well.
10. Try not to get an upper level apartment in the middle of a heat wave in a country with no air conditioning. If it’s 88 outside, it’s 98 in your place.
11. Don’t go looking for a portable AC unit at the exchange. It’s not there. You may leave in tears.
12. Don’t wait for the 3rd day to open a local bank account. It takes 3-7 days to transfer money. Therefore, no portable AC unit off base. Yes, there may be more tears.
13. Don’t crate your dog on a really hot day even if you have a fan on her. She may vomit everywhere to make your day super special.
14. If at all possible, do everything in your power to NOT take a TDY in route when you are PCSing overseas when you just got back from a deployment. This makes for a less stress on the wife. We all know “Happy Wife = Happy Life”. Again, you get no say, the military owns you. The military should really think about asking the spouses before having such braniac ideas!
Hope you all learned a little something from my adventures in PCSing. I would love to hear about any epic fails you have had in moving.