Military

Permanent Change of Station Woes

This was first published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them.

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Woes-3

It is the best of times.

It is the worst of times.

It is approaching PCS season.

This month has been…. exciting, if I am being optimistic. My husband is currently attending training to be a pilot in flight school. While all training schools are a little bit different, they all have one thing in common, no matter your designator or military branch, LOTS of moving. But even if you or your significant other are not currently in a training school, you may be approaching a move yourself, as it is that time of the year for new orders to be cut, and it may be time for your family to move on.

This move was expected and unexpected at the same time. We knew we would be moving once my husband finished this portion of his training, however, there were two possible locations we could be sent to, either 40 miles away, or 700 miles away. We received our 700 mile relocation with 15 days notice of his check-in date. So, in a scramble,we have attempted to arrange a do-it-yourself (DIY) move, or personally-procured move (PPM).

Here are the steps I followed with organizing my PPM:PPM Timeline-5

Please be sure to refer to your Personal Property Transportation Office for additional help with your PCS move. You can also find additional tips and resources at http://www.move.mil.

Here are some of the pros and cons of the PPM:PPM Pros and Cons-3

We were able to complete our PPM, check in to our new duty station, and settle in with few bumps and bruises along the way. Unfortunately our desk did not survive the move, but that’s a minor mishap in the grand scheme of things. The military certainly likes to test our resilience and ability to keep calm under stress. I hope your move goes as smooth and as painless as any move can. Be sure to take some time to relax, breathe, and repeat after me, “This too, shall pass”. Happy PCS-ing, PCS-ers!

Military · Travel

Moving like a PRO

The move was a success! And by success, I do not mean it was smooth, enjoyable, nor would I recommend it. Fortunately we received our orders to move to Florida a week in advance which was enough time to wrap up a few loose ends, finish packing, and book a moving truck; however, it was NOT with enough notice to avoid the price of my plane ticket returning to Texas to double in price. I guess you can’t have it all. Some lessons learned from this move:

  1. You cannot trust Google Maps to accurately predict your ETA to your destination. Driving a 26ft moving truck does not allow you to go highway speeds and your time WILL increase significantly. And by significantly I mean it will rise from 12 hours to 22 hours once you include gas stops, gas stations being out of power and/or gas, traffic, accidents, and a 2 hour power nap.
  2. If you are traveling with pets you will NOT get to enjoy that 2 hour power nap. Especially if your pets are like mine and will be crawling all over you as you try to get some shut eye at a sketchy truck stop. Below: Landon giving me the stank eye for trying to move my foot. Further below: Hailey and Chit Chat looking super cute. 
  3. You WILL second guess whether you need any of your material items or if you should burn everything except your underwear to make the next move simpler.
  4. Despite your best intentions to eat healthy, it’s not going to happen. Let it go and embrace the multiple pizza orders, Chinese food, and complimentary 5-10 lbs.
  5. The exhaustion will subside and with time you will forget how much of a pain in the ass it is. Just in time to do it all over again in approximately 9 months time.

I am currently regretting my decision to stay in Texas to finish the school year while most of my worldly possessions, my three kittens and husband continue life in Florida. Fingers crossed the time flies. I have a few things on my Texas Bucket List to make things a tad more enjoyable! These things include a rodeo, camping, visiting a sea turtle rescue and of course the Selena Festival. Stay tuned for recaps on all of that as they occur between now and June!

Military

The One Item you Cannot Live Without: Your Military ID

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them. Military ID-2

You meet the love of your life. You fall in love and promise to stay together forever. Now it’s time for logistics. Your Military ID.

There is not much you can do without your Military ID. You will need it to gain access to the military base without your significant other. You will need it to shop at the Exchange or Commissary. You will need it to enroll/use Tricare, which are your medical benefits. You will need it to gain access to any and all entitlements or discounts you may be eligible for as a family member to a service member. For all of these reasons, and more, you need to make obtaining your Military ID a priority.

How do you do it? Follow the steps detailed below:

  • The first thing that needs to happen is you will be enrolled in DEERS using form DD Form 1172-2. This can be done one of 4 ways.
    • Your sponsor can use their CAC card to submit your information via the RAPIDS self-service portal. (This is a website accessible via the Department of Defense (DOD) website)
    • Your sponsor can sign into the RAPIDS self-service portal using their login information.
    • Your sponsor can fill out a paper form and have it notarized.
    • You can use your power of attorney to complete the form in your sponsor’s place.
  • You will need to provide documentation of your relationship to your sponsor to prove eligibility. This is your marriage certificate and your birth certificate.
  • You will need to provide two forms of identification. Refer to the list of acceptable forms of identification.

Pin the graphic below for an easy reference guide:How To Obtain your military ID

This information was pulled directly from http://www.cac.mil/docs/required_docs.pdf .

Military ID’s aren’t all business and no fun though!

You can use your Military ID to access great resources such as the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR). Depending on your location, this could include access to a movie theater, bowling alley, video games, party rentals, kayaks, sailboats, or even couples getaways. Our last duty station offered a couples retreat to do a local high ropes course! You can also utilize your Child Development Center (CDC) for child care (check with your center for availability), and shop at the commissary and Exchange for tax free shopping. There are a lot of benefits to obtaining your military ID, so try not to procrastinate!

If you have special circumstances or additional questions, be sure to click on the link referenced above and refer to additional information there. Also, do not be afraid to reach out to your ID office on base or your service member’s command.

Military

Basics for the New Military Spouse

This post was originally published on Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them.Basics for the New Military Spouse-3

It was May 2016 and the day finally came when my whole world was about to change. My husband was leaving for Newport, Rhode Island for what would turn into fifteen weeks, to embark on his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator for the United States Navy. Officer Candidate School (OCS). We prepared for this for weeks. We made sure he had the right t-shirts, the right socks, he could run 1.5 miles in a certain amount of time, and even made sure he could do X amount of pushups and curls as well. We were prepared with stamps and paper so he could write. He had a watch for when he could have one again, and we prepared snacks and food for his drive. But I wasn’t prepared for the goodbye.

We woke up early, loaded his truck, and double checked we didn’t miss anything on the list. I was fine. I thought to myself, “this isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.” And then he turned and looked at me. And I wasn’t fine. I was excited for him, and I was excited for me, but I couldn’t help but cry because this would be the last time I got to see and touch his face in person. We hugged each other tighter than we ever have before, and I followed him outside to the truck. We hugged and kissed a dozen more times before I watched him back down the driveway onto the street, he made a right onto the next street, and another right on the street after that. As he drove away and the corn fields were between us, the tears stopped and I began counting down to when we would be reunited. I wasn’t ready for the goodbye, and I wasn’t ready for how quiet the house would be when I stepped back inside. It was eerily quiet.

The military is a challenging life to maneuver and you are  thrust into it in a way that is no better explained other than sink or swim.

“Hi welcome to military life, now I’m going to steal your partner away for you to figure it out on your own.” “Here, let’s talk in acronyms so you feel like you’re trying to translate a language you’ve never heard before!”
There are so many things I learned those first few months while my husband was away, and there is so much more I have to learn. There’s a lot of pride you can gain from learning something new or overcoming a challenge on your own, but if there was a cheat sheet I could have had last May,this is what I wish it would have said:

basics list

  1. Power of Attorney– If your partner will be going away for any amount of time, you need to have a power of attorney to manage important matters while they are away. It may seem intimidating, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Documents can be printed offline and you can sign them with any notary. If you are unsure, or still feeling hesitant, the legal office on base can assist at no charge.
  2. DEERS– Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Your first acronym, and there will be many more to come. To get you enrolled in DEERS your partner is going to need your birth certificate, social security card, marriage certificate, and photo ID. These have to be originals or certified copies. For your marriage license, make sure you have the certificate from your county clerk’s office. We didn’t think about this, and when my husband presented the license the officiant filled out, it was not accepted. I then had to obtain the correct form and overnight the marriage certificate to Rhode Island. Why all the hassle? Your spouse will also need the certificate to enroll you in TriCare, in order for you to obtain medical benefits.
  3. Military ID– Get a military ID ASAP! If your partner has all of your documents, and is deployed, you will have to wait for him to send them back to you. It might be a good idea to have duplicate certified copies of all important documents, so both you and your spouse have a set. Once you have these items, go get your military ID. This will give you access to the base, Exchange, commissary, and will allow you to receive military discounts at other businesses.
  4. Social Media– Not everyone uses social media, but if you do there are some really great support groups and pages out there. Another spouse may be aware of a local page or you can do a search for your area and ‘military spouse’. Many times the groups are private, so you may need a member to add you. While my husband was at Officer Candidate School I was lucky to find a page for friends and family of his OCS class. The girlfriends and wives of the class then formed a spinoff group and we messaged each other every single day. Being able to share your experiences with others going through the same things cannot be substituted. No matter how supportive your local friends and family are, it simply is not the same. I still talk to these wonderful women to this day.
  5. Be Empowered– Your partner is embarking on this amazing opportunity to further their career and accomplish goals they’ve set to enrich their life and yours. This does not mean you are simply along for the ride. You can further your education, work on your health, your career, or even your passion.  While my husband was away I made multiple lifestyle changes towards a healthier lifestyle and lost 40 lbs! There will be times when you will be alone, and lonely. These are the times when you have to rely on yourself, and your strength to get you through. Reach out to a friend, in person or virtually (again those Facebook groups are great!). You have the power to make or break yourself.

When do you reach the point when you’ve learned all you need to know as a military spouse? I’m going to guess never. Have I mentioned the acronyms? There is a never ending supply of acronyms. The military is not static, and it is always changing and evolving. Right when you think you have it figured out- nope! How exciting does that sound? Or is it exhausting? Let’s be positive and say exciting!

Military

Preparing for a Military Move

This was originally published on the Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I am honored to work with them. Preparing for a Military Move-3

Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add to that the seemingly complicated amount of paperwork, communicating with the right departments, moving companies and your spouse, and moving as a military family can feel downright overwhelming.

Fortunately, the military is aware that a knowledgeable and informed family makes your life and their lives much easier! If you are a Navy family, Navy Household Goods is holding a series of webinars to answer any and all of your moving questions. You can read all about what will be covered and how to access the the webinars on their flier.HHG Webinar schedule - Jan - Mar 2018-2HHG Webinar schedule - Jan - Mar 2018

Not a Navy family? No worries! Move.mil also has very informative tutorials on their website, which can be found by clicking here!

My advice is to not wait until you’re facing a move to be educated on the topic. You will go into the experience much more at ease if you take the time to learn all you can now. I’ve been through two permanent change of station (PCS) moves, and I still intend on attending the webinars. There may be something new or improved that I don’t know, the military does love switching things up on us! Am I right?

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