Military Spouse | Simplifying your crazy, wonderful military life
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We must have American dominance in space. Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. That’s a big step,” he said in the White House East Room during a meeting of his National Space Council Monday.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force: separate but equal, it is going to be something so important,” he said.
The term “separate but equal” became a legal precedent following an 1896 Supreme Court ruling Plessy v. Ferguson that said the use of racially separate facilities, if equal, was not discrimination. That legal rationale was deemed unconstitutional through a series of Supreme Court decisions, ending with 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education.
In addition to calling for the Space Force, Trump signed Space Policy Directive — 3 Monday, part of his administration’s push to lead in the space space.
Trump previously floated the idea of adding a “Space Force” branch to the US military — a concept that has received some support on Capitol Hill but drawn skepticism from the Pentagon.
Space Policy Directive — 3 is primarily focused on satellite traffic management and mitigating debris in space. The policy, executive secretary of the National Space Council Scott Pace told reporters, “seeks to address the challenges of a congested space environment.”
If we’re going to expand the economy in space, we need to make sure it’s done in a sustainable way,” Pace said.
For the private sector’s space activity, the primary effect of the policy is “more rapid and more accurate information on where they can launch,” as well as “flexibility in launch windows,” and satellites having “more time to put toward revenue-generating activities rather than maneuvering” to avoid collision risks, Pace said.
Life as a military kid isn’t easy. Our kids often see and experience more in their short lives than some adults do in their lifetimes.
This includes stressors not known by their civilian counterparts, such as moving and deployments. While not every military affiliated stressor is bad, per se, as our military kids grow into military teens, those stressors have the potential to grow into much more than the typical adolescent angst. One study suggested up to 25 percent of military teens are more likely to experience feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless and were at increased risk to contemplate suicide.
But how do we know if our teenager is headed down that dark path? How can we tell the difference between hormonal anger and sadness from having to move away from friends or have a parent deployed?
How do we know what to look for?
As military spouses, we’ve become well-versed with abnormal behavior in our service members, but your teen’s internal struggles will probably look different than the signs and symptoms on your radar. It’s easy to mistake their actions and feelings for regular teen behavior.
With our military teens experiencing more than the average adolescent, there are a few things we need to watch out for:
They’re always pissed off: irritability and anger already may just seem like every day teenage behavior, but most of the time, this is how depression presents in teenagers.
Their always sleeping: It’s not uncommon for teenagers to sleep 10-12 hours each day. But for some teens, this may be their way of isolating themselves from the world.
They’re withdrawing: You may notice your teen has created a fortress of solitude in their room. They may just be withdrawing from mom and dad as a normal part of adolescents as they find their independence. But a depressed teen might withdraw from their friends and peers or start hanging with a different crowd entirely.
Everything hurts: Sometimes depression doesn’t manifest as with just a sad face. In fact, most teens will complain of chronic headaches or stomachaches with no known cause.
They are SUPER SENSITIVE: We almost expect this one on the daily. Teens are already hyper-sensitive, but for a teen with mental health issues, they aren’t able to handle rejection or criticism without feeling like they ‘suck’.
This all sounds like regular teenage life, right? How are these signs the symptoms of depression or a precursor to suicidal ideation? The trick is the timing. If your teen exhibits the above behaviors for two weeks or longer, it wouldn’t hurt to go see their PCM.
Additionally, watch out for these more obvious signs in your teen:
Hopelessness, feeling like there’s no way out
Feeling no sense of purpose, no reason for living
Reckless or risky behavior
Alcohol or drug abuse
There are plenty of resources available for our mil-kids and teens. We need to teach our kids that their mental health is just as important as their physical health.
If you feel that your military teen needs help, Military OneSource has some fantastic resources and can help connect you with a mental health professional in your area. If your military teen is experiencing a crisis situation and you feel that they may harm themselves, either call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
Award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups for Vets is releasing its 13th annual fundraising calendar to raise money for VA hospitals; ill, injured, and homeless veterans; deployed troops; and military families.
The 2019 calendar, photographed on the iconic Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, features 19 female veterans decked out in World War II inspired fashion.
“Fans of Art Deco will appreciate the look of the upcoming calendar that reflects the vintage glamour of this 1936 cruise liner, now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA as a floating hotel,” said Pin-Ups For Vets Founder, Gina Elise, who established Pin-Ups For Vets in 2006, as a way to honor the WWII service of her grandfather.
Gina Elise, Founder
Gina has devoted her life to giving back to the military community. To date, Pin-Ups For Vets has donated over $58,000 to help hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and to provide financial assistance for Veterans’ healthcare program expansion across the United States.
From a linguist, to a Human Intelligence Collector, to a combat photographer, to a combat medic, to a motor transportation operator, to a heavy equipment transporter driver leading convoys in Iraq, to a helicopter door gunner in Afghanistan, these ladies also include an above-the-knee amputee veteran (Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis — who, by the way, at the time of this publishing was climbing Mount Denali in support of Service to Summit to raise money for Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that builds or modifies homes and gives them to veterans in need).
Julie Noyes, Army veteran
Army veteran Julie Noyes says, “It can be so difficult as a female service member to feel empowered in her beauty without feeling like she may betray the professionalism of her uniform when we only seek to be treated like our male counterparts. I feel that Pin-Ups for Vets does a superb job at raising money and awareness for our elderly, wounded vets and our currently deployed troops while also showcasing the class and beauty of female veterans without objectifying them. What Pin-Ups Vets Founder Gina Elise has done with this publication and non-profit is nothing short of empowering and inspiring.”
Naumika Kumar, Navy Veteran
“I will always be thankful to the Navy. I met my husband in the Navy who is also a veteran now and I graduated from National University with Master’s Degree in 2012 as well. I am happy to see there are organization such as Pin-Ups For Vets who are doing so much to support the military and Veterans. I am happy that I got an opportunity to be part of the organization.”
Patti Gomez, Army veteran
Patti is a veteran of the United States Army, where she proudly served in the New York Army National Guard as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector) of the 42nd Infantry Division, located in Glenville, New York. She volunteered to attend JRTC in Fort Polk, Louisiana, alongside the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in July 2016. She also trained at Warfighter at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, with her unit in October 2017. Patti attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and attended Advanced Individual Training at the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
“Pin-Ups for Vets is an incredible organization with an important mission. Being a part of a nonprofit that helps veterans and empowers women at the same time is truly an honor and one that I couldn’t pass up when I was asked to be a part of the 2019 calendar. As the reigning Mrs. New York America, my platform is veteran organizations — and Pin-Ups for Vets is truly among the best of them!”
Check out that cover image!
The 2019 calendar can be purchased at: www.PinUpsForVets.com or by check to: Pin-Ups For Vets, PO Box 33, Claremont, CA 91711.
Please, please, please. Don’t ask this question. We are trying very hard to live in la la land. Right now that date is spoiling everything and haunting our every thought. Do you go to buy milk at the grocery store and cry when you happen to see THAT date on it? No? We do. We know you mean well, but instead of reminding us of impending doom….distract us. Oh, and don’t ask when he’s coming home either.
2. How do you do it?
Uh….we don’t have a choice. We are the lucky ones that fell head over heels in love with a man that happened to be in the military. It’s not something we chose, but someONE. If you really love someone, you’ll make whatever sacrifice necessary. And by the way…it’s not ALL bad! I truly love this life. Have you ever had a homecoming? You’ll never experience what I feel is the most amazing event EVER. I do it because I love him; I do it because I love military life.
3. Don’t you miss him?
Yes. That’s why we buy wine.
4. Let me know if you need anything!
Just stop. Have you met a military spouse? We don’t ask for help. You don’t survive this life by being weak – we do it all ourselves. We fall into bed at the end of a very long day wondering how we’re going to do it again tomorrow and the next day for the next…how many days do we have left? In order to help us out, please be pushy. Try mowing the lawn without asking. I will never forget when I was cleaning the house one day only to look out the window and see my neighbor mowing the front lawn. He GOT it. And of course I cried. Someone noticed and didn’t make me ask for it. Yeah, maybe you don’t want to just show up with dinner because you don’t know our plans for that night…so instead pop a gift card to Panera in the mail. Or bring a dinner you prepared and froze to be used when we’re having that day. Tell her you feel the need to hang with the kids for a few hours at the park – we’ll know you are lying. But we’ll pretend you’re not. The point is, just do it. TELL us what you are doing. If you give us the opportunity to say no, we will.
5. How do you do it all?
Through God’s unending grace. Grace has become something I’ve been clinging to over the last several months. I always thought of grace as in forgiveness. To me they were simple synonyms. But man, God’s grace is so much more than that. It’s not just forgiveness for my screw-ups, it’s allowing me to screw up in the first place. See, I’m no longer afraid to fail. I WILL fail. It is something I have only now learned – I am not superwoman though non-military members will tell you so. I think that gets in your head after a while. We constantly worry that to everyone else we at least look like we have it altogether and I’m sure most of us take pride in that. But we forget that it’s okay to be a broken mess sometimes. We simply can’t be perfect. Once we begin to accept that, so much stress just seems to dissipate. Our life is stressful enough, don’t carry the baggage of being superwoman on top of it.
There are so many military spouse events happening throughout the year it can be hard to keep up. Occasionally, many of us feel the envious twinge-inducing FOMO (fear of missing out) when we see photos of our mil-friends having a great time…usually in areas surrounded by a large military population.
But many organizations have decided to start meeting us all where we’re at, both in AND out of those areas with a dense military population! The National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) is one of those organizations and they just held they’re very first (but not last) Rocky Mountain Career Summit for military spouses!
On June 11 and 12, local and out-of-state military spouses gathered in the scenic town of Colorado Springs, CO for the two day, three event Summit designed specifically for the career-minded military spouse! Spouses from all different professional backgrounds came together to network and learn how to manage our careers, businesses and earning potential throughout our military journeys.
I realize I’m about to put you in FOMO mode, but fear not! NMSN will be holding another career summit in Washington D.C. on October 12th and 13th. That means you’ll have FOUR MONTHS to plan the logistics to attend this can’t-miss military spouse career event! You NEED this in your life. This Summit is one of the few opportunities to unplug and spend a few days focused solely on YOUR goals and ambitions. This is the event that will put you in an environment that will EMPOWER you. You’ll leave with a renewed sense of purpose, a new support network and REAL-LIFE info that applies to furthering your career no matter where the military takes you. We ALL need this in our lives.
Want to know more? Here are a few highlights that might have you clamoring for a ticket in no time!
1. BRANDING BASICS
Have you ever looked at someone else’s professional profile photo or headshot and wondered, “How can I look like that”? (raises hand). Well that’s exactly what we learned from Trish Alegre-Smith – a corporate photographer and business owner (who also just happens to be a military spouse AND Air Force veteran herself!) Trish walked us through how to create our brand through photos, from headshots, to website and social media images. She showed us how to style, pose and present our personal brand in a more polished way. She even made herself available to do a few headshots in between sessions!
2. HAVE PEN WILL TRAVEL
In this session we heard from three in-demand writers/journalists who found their niche in military life. They all shared tips on hustling to find gigs and how to develop and maintain writing as an actual career track. You may not be a writer, but there’s no way you would have walked away from this session without your jaw hitting the floor.
We heard from a military spouse writer who recently wrote and sold a cable TV script, a spouse of a retired Marine who’s writing has been published everywhere from the New York Times to the Costco magazine, and a war reporter/documentary filmmaker, who covers U.S. Special Operations Forces on combat missions. These three AMAZING women all came from different backgrounds and their journeys took on lives of their own. As they told us their own stories, we all began seeing how our own grit has gotten us as far as we’ve come.
3. HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB?
Have you ever wondered how someone found their way to an awesome job? What is the path to get from serial volunteer to working for a sitting U.S. Senator? How does someone go from a background in Criminal Justice and Crisis Management to becoming an advocate with Blue Star Families? In this segment, we heard from the Special Assistant to the Mayor of Colorado Springs, Regional Director for a US Senator, Senior Advisor for Careers at Blue Star Families, and the Chief Strategy Officer for VetTix. Every person on that panel was either a military spouse or had served themselves, and each one of them laid out the map showing us how they were led to those really awesome jobs!
We got so much out of those two days, from negotiating salaries to preparing our careers for life after the military. We ate the BEST food, at a GORGEOUS location and made connections we would never have dreamed of elsewhere. I could write a NOVEL on every takeaway we walked away with, but I don’t want you to feel the FOMO, NO-MO’!
I want YOU to come to the next Military Spouse Career Summit this October in D.C. Grab a few career-minded friends, share a room, unplug from life and for ONCE: Do YOU! This is your chance to say YES to yourself and your goals, and I can’t think a better way to invest in you than this inspiring and motivating event. Hope to see you there!
Who knew that folding clothes the “navy way” and putting on sheets so tight that you could bounce a quarter off of them would have such a profound affect on my life.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, where most students came from military families and knew what it was like to have military parents. They knew the struggle of parents who had to leave for months at a time, the amount of discipline that was applied to daily chores and homework, and of course the expectation to succeed at anything you do.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and I find that there were many small things instilled in me from my military parents that shape much of the person, husband, and father I am today. Most of what my military parents taught me stemmed from three mandatory rules that I now realize weren’t rules at all, but were actually gifts that have changed my life.
1. Finish what you started.
Baseball was everything for my family. Attending practices, winning games, and playing tournaments were some of my earliest memories. While my father was in love with the sport, that same passion didn’t come naturally for me. I remember wanting to quit right in the middle of a season, only to be denied by parents that “didn’t raise quitters.”
The rule of “finish what you started” applied to everything in our lives including baseball. It was those moments when I wasn’t allowed to give up that led to many high school awards, graduating college, marrying my wife, and living unafraid to step through life’s open doors. I can even trace my career success that has lead me to my dream job, back to this foundational rule.
2. Treat others with respect.
If my dad was the source of inspiration for my dreams, my mother was the source of discipline to see them become a reality. She never missed a moment or opportunity for me to treat others with respect because she knew that it would set me apart in life.
I’m not quite sure, but I’m pretty sure “yes ma’am” were my very first words. I’ll never forget the time when my mother suspected that I had disrespected an older gentlemen in public. As we were driving home, my mother could sense something was wrong with me. She prompted me to tell her the truth, and believing I was in the wrong, she turned the car around. I was forced to face the man once again and apologize for being out of line with my comments. As a kid, I thought this was absolutely ridiculous and a waste of time. As an adult, I am thankful because my military mother instilled in me the importance of respecting people no matter who they are or where they come from.
I can honestly attribute living a life of treating others with respect to helping me win more clients, close more deals, gain promotions, and winning the heart of my wife. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t be who I am without a mother that championed the rule of treating others with respect.
3. Being a military kid is an asset.
My parents had traveled the world in the name of protecting and serving others. The pride they took in being a part of the military was evident in everything we did as a family. They held my sister and I to a standard that we didn’t realize was different, but it would end up making all the difference. We were challenged to be leaders on our sports team, in the classroom, and even when hanging out with friends.
They made sure that we knew that we were different (not better), than others, to help make a difference wherever we were. My sister and I witnessed this many times as they volunteered, helped those who were less fortunate, and never apologized for the lifestyle they lived because of serving in the military. Today, the most rewarding moments of my life have come from the foundation of making a difference instilled by my military parents. It has lead me to help build water wells in remote countries, prioritize time to volunteer on a monthly basis, and living with a sense of direction.
What my parents set as rules for our household, ended up being gifts that grounded me. Most of what I have and who I am are built upon the foundation of finishing what you start, respecting others, and not being afraid to be different. I am thankful for military parents that were intentional about making sure I knew the value of serving and living beyond myself. I can only hope that my daughter will one day realize these same rules, will be gifts given to her that will make her better like they did me.
Tyler Medina is the Brand Operations Manager at Simplr, a startup specializing in customer service outsourcing. He’s the son of two Navy veterans that served multiple tours overseas, and like most military kids, grew up all over the U.S. He currently lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Sabrina and 2-year old daughter Audrey.
Just two weeks after American forces landed at Normandy on D-Day, Jack Leroy Tueller, one of those Americans, was taking sniper fire with the rest of his unit. Tueller played the sniper a beautiful song from his trumpet.
He was orphaned at age five, but before World War II, Jack Tueller would play first-chair trumpet in the Brigham Young University orchestra. After going to war as a pilot, his trumpet skills would serve him well, along with at least one German soldier — and both their families.
After the war, he became a missilier in the newly-formed U.S. Air Force and would serve in Korea and Vietnam as well. But his most memorable military moment would always be a night in Normandy when the power of music risked — and saved — his life.
It was a dark, rainy night in Northern France when then-Capt. Tueller decided to play his trumpet for everyone within earshot. The only problem was that not everyone in the area would be very receptive to a song in the dead of night — especially not the sniper trying to shoot him dead.
Capt. Jack Tueller in 1943.
That wasn’t about to deter a man like Tueller, who took his trumpet on every combat mission. If he was ever shot down, he wanted to use it to play songs in the POW camps.
Tueller had been grounded for the night. His unit already cleared most of the area of snipers, but there was one left. Tueller’s commander told him not to play that night because at least one sniper was still operating in the area. The sniper had a sound aimer, which meant he didn’t have to see his target, only hear it.
But the pilot insisted. He needed a way to relieve his own stress. His commander told him, “it’s your funeral.”
Jack Tueller thought to himself that the sniper, suddenly being on the losing end of World War II in Europe, was probably as scared and lonely as he was. And so he decided to play a German love song on the trumpet, Lili Marlene, and let the melody flow through Normandy’s apple orchards and into the European night.
The airman played the song all the way through and nothing happened.
Listen to Tueller, who would live on to be a Colonel in the Air Force after the war, play his version of the tune in the video below (58 seconds in).
The Power of Music - Jack Leroy Tueller - YouTube
The very next morning a U.S. Army Jeep leading a group of captured Wehrmacht soldiers approached Tueller and his cohorts. The military policemen told Capt. Tueller that one of the POWs, who was on their way to England, wanted to know who was playing the trumpet the night before.
The captured German, just 19 years old, burst into tears and into the song Tueller played the night before. In broken English, the man told Tueller he thought about his fiancée and his entire family when he heard his trumpet — and he couldn’t fire. It was the song he and his fiancée loved and sang together. The man stuck out his hand.
Captain Jack Tueller shook the hand of his captured enemy.
“He was no enemy,” Tueller says, looking back. “He was scared kid, like me. We were both doing what we were told to do. I had no hatred for him.”
Jack Tueller died in 2016 in his native state of Utah at age 95, still playing the same trumpet he carried on all of his World War II air sorties.
Either way, the impact on your bank account will be felt for sure. The bottom line is, we all need to start preparing for military to civilian transition no matter where we are on our military journey. If we don’t, we could be in for one heck of a case of sticker shock. Here are a few things you should start thinking about sooner rather than later.
1. MILITARY SALARY VS CIVILIAN SALARY
If you break out your spouse’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), you’ll notice several different types of pay and allowances. Their “main” pay is their “base” pay, but stacked on to that are other entitlements, such as basic allowance for housing (BAH) and basic allowance for subsistence (BAS), as well as other special pay and allowances. All of these different types of pay ultimately make up your service member’s salary.
In order to keep the same exact lifestyle you’re accustomed to now, start taking a look at the job market and looking at the salary ranges for civilian positions with your service member’s skill set. Sometimes it can be a significant bump in salary to find a civilian job doing pretty much what they’re doing now. Other times, you may find that civilian salaries hover around your service member’s base pay…without the bells and whistles of other allowances. You’ll want to take this into account well before transition is on your radar.
2. NO MORE BAH
As military families, we’re not often afforded the opportunity to decide where we live, but as civilians we can move wherever we choose. As previously mentioned, BAH is an entitlement that’s tacked on in addition to our service member’s base pay. Once our service members exit the military, that money will cease to exist (unless we take that income loss into account when negotiating future salaries with civilian employers). Even if your family is retiring from military service, the lack of BAH might be a hard pill to swallow the first few months, so it’s best to start saving up for a transition buffer now. You’ll ideally want to add a 6-12 month buffer of savings to your exit strategy, which could take a while to accrue.
Right now, our tax liability as military families is truly not a lot. But once we enter the civilian world, that tax bill will come to roost, so be prepared. You may not be subject to state taxes now, but if you decide to stay in the state you’re currently stationed in, you’ll need to crunch some numbers to see just how high your tax bill will rise. When leaving the military, you may want to consider moving to a state that doesn’t have income taxes. If your service member plans to retire, be sure to look at whether or not your state will tax their retirement pay. Wherever you plan to live after the military, you’ll want to decide where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
4. MEDICAL COSTS
Medical costs are yet another expense you’ll have on the “outside.” Say what you will about TRICARE; the fact is that we’ll all be paying more for our healthcare once our service member takes off their uniform. If your spouse isn’t retiring from the military, your family will need to secure healthcare through other means, whether that’s a civilian employer or the healthcare exchange. If your service member ever served in combat, they have the option to receive VA healthcare for up to five years after leaving the military, even if they don’t have a service-connected disability. But the VA only covers the family so you will need to talk with your spouse about finding a civilian insurance plan.
For those service members retiring from military service, you’ll still have access to TRICARE…but you’ll still have expenses. In addition to premiums, you’ll now have the added expense of co-pays. Thanks to the recent TRICARE reform, retirees using TRICARE now have higher co-pays. While $30 per specialty visit doesn’t seem like a whole lot, imagine having physical therapy twice a week, to the tune of $240 a month.
Whether your service member ends up getting out after four years or retires after serving twenty, you need to start preparing financially NOW. Even if they just re-enlisted for another tour, plan as if you’re leaving the military next year. Pay down your debt, start a transition savings account, and start researching where your family will set down their roots once military life is over.
I’m not telling you all of this to scare you. I’m telling you all of this because transition is NO JOKE and we all need to be prepared. These are the realities and how your family prepares for these realities will ultimately determine how positive or negative the impact of your transition to civilian life will be.
When we received PCS orders to the Washington D.C. area, our plans certainly did not include living in a hotel for six months with an escape artist cat.
In our minds, we would be in temporary lodging for a few weeks while we closed on a new house. With a July move, we fully expected to have household goods delivered by August and be celebrating the holidays in our new home.
My husband and I had firmly decided we wanted to buy a house in the area. He was a cyber operations specialist and I had just separated active duty myself, and still maintained a current security clearance. Between a heady mix of defense contractor jobs available for me and the likelihood of an extended military assignment for him, we knew buying would be a smart move.
We had no idea that decision might take six months.
Due to a ridiculously tight housing market, we struggled to find anything that fit our realistic, non-million dollar budget. Homes that did fit our needs were gone in hours. Others needed such extensive repairs, as to be unfeasible. Days ticked by, summer eased into fall and by the time we finally found a 1950’s Cape Cod with renovations we could actually afford, our California wardrobe of shorts and flip-flops were useless. Our winter clothes were in our household goods, which had gone into storage, and I had received a job offer working downtown – which required a new professional wardrobe. We shook our heads in frustration at trying to figure out how to make living in a hotel with 250 square feet of space functional.
It turned out to be a very powerful lesson in embracing minimalism.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism can best be explained over many mediums. It appears in art, music, fashion and architecture. Merriam Webster defines it as, “a style or technique characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Others explain minimalism as a lifestyle. In the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo challenges readers to evaluate what items in their environment bring them joy and how to eliminate clutter with the KonMari Method. The military tends to define and embrace minimalism as doing “more with less.”
In our own lives, as we learned to function and live with less, we slowly discovered several advantages in a lifestyle stripped down to the essentials.
1. Re-evaluating purchases
We quickly realized any purchases brought into our tiny space had to be carefully evaluated. Limited by pure square footage and storage capacity, we were forced us to bring in less of everything. It didn’t take long for the habit to become second nature and lead to new shopping patterns.
2. Saving more than just money
As we shopped smarter and bought only essentials, we weren’t surprised that we started saving real money. What did come as a surprise however, was the feeling of actually having more. With less physical space to fill up, and a reduced urge to do so, we not only gained more money and time, we also gained a fresh sense of renewed mental space. Adopting a minimalistic lifestyle created more room for things that mattered.
3. Collecting experiences versus things
Instead of collecting “stuff” that always seemed to turn into clutter, we developed a new focus on collecting fresh experiences. We had more money to travel, to explore new neighborhoods or try a unique restaurant. We quickly embraced this new feeling of liberation – and I knew unequivocally that we had made a permanent lifestyle shift.
4. A new sense of freedom
By the time we finally moved into our home, we were ready for a new change. As we slowly unpacked the sky-high boxes, we realized that by living in a hotel with less, we had refined our priorities. What we truly needed was quickly distinguishable from what could be culled and eliminated. As a result, our next PCS was cleaner and lighter, which turned out to be a very powerful lesson for an overseas assignment. We were allotted 14,000 pounds for Germany and couldn’t help but giggle when our household goods topped the scales at a mere 3,700 pounds.
What began as a challenging PCS turned into a beautiful and liberating life lesson in simplicity. And couldn’t we all use a little more simplicity in this crazy, but wonderful military life.
Moving is a stress-inducing event, whether it’s half a mile away or across the country.
Now, imagine adding in duty report dates, brand new cities (or countries!), and the government being in control of where you end up. Sounds like you’re gearing up for a relocation with the military, and—whether it’s your first move, a PCS (permanent change of station), or an ETS (expiration of term of service)—it’s always good to keep a few things in mind.
First things first, it’s important to know your military abbreviations. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
CONUS—Continental United States
OCONUS—Outside Continental United States
DOS—Date of Separation
EAD—Entered Active Duty
PCS—Permanent Change of Station
SN/SSN—Service Number/Social Security Number
Get to Know Where You’re Going
The moving process gets really fun when you arrive, but make sure you know a bit about your new installation and the area around it before you go. This means looking into the local policies, social norms, and cultural customs if you’re going abroad, including what is and isn’t allowed in certain places. For example, certain states and countries have very strict rules on pets, so be sure to brush up on those before departure. Do your research on the local schools, think about whether you’ll want to live on or off-base or post, and dig into the community’s culture.
It’s time to start daydreaming about the fun times ahead. The United States Military has installations in countless amazing destinations. Every new post and city is different and each offers unique advantages and experiences to be had.
PHOTO BY TECH SGT. MARIE / US AIR FORCE CENTRAL COMMAND
Once those long-awaited orders are cut, it’s time to begin a plan. If this isn’t your first rodeo, then you know a bit of what to expect. But for those who are getting orders for the first time after initial training, it can all seem a bit daunting.
Consider the classic three pile system and be ruthless about it. Make a pile in each room of your house prior to the move for things you’d like to keep, a separate one for things you’ll put in storage or donate, and a final one for a potential yard sale or throw away items. This is the optimal time to downsize as each family is allowed a certain pound allowance for their move (depending upon rank and dependents, and if your move is CONUS or OCONUS). If you can get your things in order well enough in advance to have a yard sale, the money generated there would be great to have for the move ahead.
Keep it All Together
Welcome to the most organized chaos you’ll ever experience. Being in a military family is nothing short of an adventure-filled, ever-changing lifestyle—but the one thing that doesn’t change is the paperwork and the need to be prepared. You’ll be able to recite you and your entire family’s social security numbers at the drop of a patrol cap, but it’s incredibly helpful to keep everything in one place.
For easy access, make multiple copies of birth certificates, drivers licenses, marriage licenses, and SSN cards for everyone in the family and put them in an accordion binder. This binder should also house copies of your official orders and anything else related to your move. It’s never a bad idea to make extra copies of passports, vehicle registrations, and pet vaccine information, if those documents apply to you as well.
For additional brownie points while preparing, keep out a handful of items you know you’ll need upon arrival (linens, towels, air mattress) and pack them in a box that comes with you. A lot of installations will offer loaner products while you wait for your move to be completed, but it’s always nice to have those more familiar comforts of home with you when you’re in a new place.
Make Nice With Movers
The military contracts out all of the moving logistics, so beyond a few phone calls to coordinate things, you and your servicemember actually have very little to do with the move itself. Be sure to clean your items before allowing them to be packed, though. In an effort to be efficient, sometimes movers don’t double-check if they’re packing last night’s dinnerware and it’s best to avoid showing up in your brand new abode with weeks-old taco leftovers. While you’re at it, for the last day or so prior to the big move, try using only disposable dinnerware to avoid this issue altogether.
Pro-tip for moving day: Buy drinks and snacks for the movers. Legend has it they tend to be a bit more gentle with your items when properly hydrated/caffeinated/bribed. And if they aren’t gentle, you’ll be able to make note of that upon your item’s arrival. The military will coordinate with your assigned moving company to reimburse you or replace lost or broken items along the way.
Try Not to Panic About Arrivals
Though most shipping and moving companies offer online tracking now, this isn’t always the case. Try to be patient as you await your HHG, as calling the company demanding items to be shipped often does little more than add to the stress of the move. Understand that they are also coordinating dozens of other families’ moves the same week as yours. It’s a true miracle more items aren’t lost in the shuffle, but if they are, you can thank your stars and stripes that you prepared well with that aforementioned box of necessities to tide you over while you look for replacements.