Written by Angie Andrews
Moving. PCSing. Relocating. Whatever you want to call it, the event (no matter how routine for some of us) is really not a singular activity. The whole process comes with much more than a pile of boxes containing everything you own. It is not just about the boxes!
When I mention it’s time to move, or how much I really don’t like moving, I will often get the reply, “Doesn’t the military just pack everything for you?” Well, yes and thank God they do, but even that statement is not quite as simple as it seems.
“Moving” starts well before pack out day. Does it start when the first mention of a new assignment pops up? Even earlier, when discussions of dream locations work their way into daily conversations? Maybe it starts the first time something feels challenging…right about the time you start hating the word resilience.
From the outside, there are a few choices to identify when moving starts: assignment day, pack out day, travel day, and arrival day. Everyone wants to know where you’re going, when you’re departing, and when you’re arriving. I’m not so sure they want to know what it’s actually like to pick up and move every couple of years.
This day almost always comes with excitement. How could it not? You don’t really know what adventures a new place will bring until you get there. It’s easy to dream up the possibilities and even have fun researching a new area online. It’s hard to not know what work schedules, community cultures, and daily routines will be like.
Pack Out Day
On pack out day, even though we aren’t the ones wrapping up every dish, picture frame, and itty bitty last item from the junk drawer, there’s plenty to do. There’s always last-minute cleaning, making sure important items are set aside, and for those with pets, there’s planning how they’ll stay safe and out of the way. And don’t forget, there’s breakfast or lunch and drinks to go grab. It’s busy to say the least. It’s easy to watch someone else do all the packing. It’s hard to then live for weeks or months out of suitcases in a mostly empty home.
Aside from where you’re going, this by far, has to be what most people will be curious about. When? Well, if OPSEC wasn’t a thing, we’d tell you, ha ha. Seriously though, it’s easy to say it’ll be a few weeks or next month or even next year. It’s hard to get through everything that tests your patience as that day nears closer and closer. And when that day arrives, there are still bits and pieces to get through. Long drives, long flights…you get the point.
Much like travel day (or days), arrival day is big and celebrated by most. “Glad you made it!” or “Wow, that’s so cool you get to live in [fill in the blank]!” It’s easy to be happy when people are interested in what you’re up to and how your “trip” was. It’s hard to land somewhere and have everything be unfamiliar—to essentially mark the beginning of starting over.
Moving. PCSing. Relocating. Whatever you call it, this is our fourth time doing this in nine years. Please believe me when I say it’s more than the boxes. It’s easy and it’s hard, and it is only one part of this military life that really contributes to the honest to goodness meaning of that word resilience. It’s leaving friends, leaving jobs, leaving locations you love (or hate). And all the while, it’s leaving you stronger every single time you do it.
*For more tips on an OCONUS move check out our previous post from expert blogger, Hope for the Warriors https://armywifenetwork.com/tips-to-prepare-you-for-an-oconus-pcs/