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5 Tips for PCS Prep

Big Sarge is getting moved to Fort Richardson, Alaska. Since he’s received these orders, the report date has changed three times.

Whenever the mysterious “branch” is mentioned, I have a vision in my head of a Jabba the Hutt-type character, with a map and a calendar on the wall, holding a dart with Big Sarge’s name on it. And when she threw the dart at the calendar, she didn’t really throw it hard enough, and it fell out. That’s why the date keeps changing. She has to keep re-throwing the dart.

Oy.

Sometimes military life is like walking down a dark hallway, feeling your way slowly along.

Other times, it’s like you are tied to the back of a speeding motorcycle, and the driver is alternating taking shots of Wild Turkey and hollering “Woo hoo!” as you speed recklessly down the dark hallway.

But the new report date is October of this year.

This October.

As in, after-Izzy-starts-kindergarten and after-I-start-my-next-year-of-college October.

Big Sarge and I have decided that he should request an early report date so that Izzy doesn’t have to do the “hi/bye/hi” for her first year of school, and I won’t have to waste another semester of not attending college.

We would want to arrive in August.

Now we are really talking soon! This is more than soon-soon, this is rabbit-gestational-period soon.

In that vein, I would like to share with you my top tips for PCSing (though hopefully you will have more time than a rabbit gestational period):

1. Purge now.

When Big Sarge came home, he was on a cleaning spree. I am somewhat of a hoarder, but he may have cured me. We have gotten rid of so much “stuff” that you would have had to pry out of my cold, dead fingers two years ago. Though we’ve finally compromised on my books. I can keep two copies of my Stephen King books, as long as one of them is a first edition (Sarah Anne for the win!). But back to purging. Bless your friends and family before you leave by giving away things they may want. This will also help them remember you when you’ve gone to your next duty station. Bless strangers by donating things to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Have a yard sale. Get rid of the things that don’t mean the most to you.

2. Start saving.

I know this sounds completely contradictory to tip number one, but I am talking about saving money. Every little bit helps. Yes, you will get a dislocation allowance—in the future. If finance gets around to it. I’ve heard horror stories about fighting with finance for years for dislocation allowance. In the meantime, you are going to have some major expenses when you move: Hotel stays, plane tickets, eating out, gas money for a trip from Georgia to Alaska…When your household goods arrive at your new duty station, there may be things that need to be replaced (shocking, I know). I hear “irreplaceable,” they hear “old.” Potato/potahto/vodka. Have some money on-hand in an attempt to replace these things.

3. Research

Find out all you can about your new duty station and the surrounding area before you get there. For example, I found out when school starts on post and when the fall semester starts at the University of Alaska. It is not on the same day, thankfully. You can find a lot by searching your new installation’s spouses’ page (if they have one). Take the information with a grain of salt. Better yet, check out AWN’s Post With the Most series for no-nonsense information.

4. Be the person with a plan.

Though it may have to be written on Silly Putty (in order to be flexible), have a plan. I love planning, which is why being tied to the back of a Harley right now is slightly freaking me out. I don’t know when we’re going to go. I don’t know if branch/Jabba the Hutt is going to say, “Sure, you can go in August!” But I’m hoping that she will okay it, and I’m planning for that. I have a plan to use up my cleaning supplies. If you have never PCS’d before, the Army is funny about packing things. They will pack your dirty laundry, your trash, and possibly your pet, but it is a federal offense if you try to sneak a can of Lysol into a box. I have a plan for the last week of meals in our house, something to use up the numerous bottles of condiments in our fridge (I think they breed in there). Why do I have 13 bottles of mayo? Curse you, Extreme Couponing.

5. Don’t pack the corkscrew.

The Army will use approximately 89 boxes and 153 reams of paper to pack your things. And that’s only in the kitchen. They will lovingly wrap each thing in paper, from your forks to your potato masher to your measuring cups. And every box is simply labeled “Kitchen.” Trust me, the last thing you want to do when your household goods finally arrive at your new destination is go tearing through the 89 boxes labeled “Kitchen” looking for your corkscrew. So the morning before the movers arrive, put your corkscrew with the “I Love Me” book, the important documents, and the other things that you are hand-carrying to your next destination (you are hand-carrying documents and the “I Love Me” book, right?).

Or, you know, just drop it in your purse or a backpack.

Your sanity will thank you.

 

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