By Jenn Cobbel, Former NMCB 4 Ombudsman and Family Readiness Group President
So, summer has been in full swing and anyone having been with the military for any time at all knows what that means…MOVING!!!
Moving under any circumstance is a stressful undertaking. But, a military move can seem like an even more daunting task. Believe me, I should know. I just did my own sixth PCS move (that’s Permanent Change of Station, but it never feels “permanent”) in April and have helped many friends with theirs as well.
So, you have those paper orders in hand. Where do you go next? What do you do next? What do you get rid of? What goes in the car? When do you have to be there? This list of questions could go on until the next move. And, yes, chances are there WILL be a next move.
MY first PCS was to Yokosuka, Japan, from Illinois – by myself. Dave and I had been married for two months and he was on deployment. Now that I look back, how do deployment and moving happen at the exact same time? Must be a coincidence. Not.
As a newly married military wife, this first move was extremely nerve-racking. I had to figure out what to leave at my parents’ house, what 500 lbs. went to storage, what single E-4 weight was going to Japan and what I could carry with me on the plane. Dave had not yet done a PCS move, so I had the whole weight to use.
Now, I had to get a moving company. This was no small task. At that time, you had to do all the paperwork by hand. No website back then. And, everything had to be done in person.
I got over that hump and the movers came to the house. They were super nice and understanding. This is awesome because if you think about it…here are these people you’ve never met before who are completely in charge of packing and shipping your stuff to some place you’ve probably never seen. Can you say TRUST? But, these movers were great. They talked me through how things would happen and told me how everything would get where. (I know…this is not always the case.) This set my mind at ease a little which was a good thing because our stuff would soon be in a bunch of boxes and crates on a boat to Japan.
Luckily, our HHG (Household Goods) made it across the ocean just fine. I knew that personally because I unpacked everything and set up the whole house by myself. Dave was on another deployment.
Now, fast forward to February of this year. On the 10th Dave came home from his ninth deployment and second time to Afghanistan. We knew that orders – to Great Lakes – were on their way. It was now the 24th when Dave went back to work after leave and his orders were waiting for him. The “report no later than” date was May 1st.
This was our second time with quick move orders. So, I knew things were going to happen very quickly. I had already purged the house when Dave was in Afghanistan. Then, I went into Personal Property and spoke with them. I used one of the computers at Fleet and Family to complete the paperwork. By the time I left, I had moving dates. Once I got home, I called the Great Lakes Housing Office to get on the list.
Awesome! Movers – check. Housing – check. Now, the process of figuring out when to give up our housing in California. This may not seem difficult. But when you have to figure in your spouse’s last day of work, travel days, leave, house hunting, children, school and pets…it’s more difficult than you may think. We finally came to a decision and gave our “more than 30-day notice” to Housing.
So, things are rolling right along with movers in their second day of packing the Cobbel house. And, I get a phone call from Housing in Great Lakes. THEY HAVE A HOUSE FOR US! And to top it off it’s the one that we wanted!!! A single-family, 3-bedroom house with a fireplace, basement and backyard with trees. I am such a happy camper at this point!
All the HHG are packed up and gone, the cleaning is done and we’re checked out with Housing. Dave has also checked out of the Command, and the car and truck are packed. The whole family – Dave, Bailey (our daughter), two Labradors and me – are all traveling to Great Lakes in the truck, along with a weeks’ worth of stuff. The car is on a full dolly behind the truck, packed full of very important things: uniforms, house plants, coffee pot, vacuum cleaner, microwave, pillows, medical records, copies of Dave’s service record and awards, juice boxes and other snacks for the five-day trip to Illinois.
Now it was “See you soon” time with our neighbors. There are really no goodbyes in the military. You never know when an old friend will pop up.
Moving is definitely an adventure. It’s frustrating, but there’s always a silver lining in there somewhere. There are new places and new people we get to see, as well as do things that some people never get to do in their whole lives. And the Cobbel family wouldn’t have it any other way.