So you found out you have PCS orders. Maybe your husband brought home flowers when he broke the news. Maybe that got your spidey senses up. Hmm, flowers? We have been doing this for a hot minute, you don’t need to soften
PCS orders with flowers, dude. Maybe it’s because your spouse also wanted to tell you that in addition to moving, his new unit will be deploying within six months of arriving and the dreaded “work-ups” start immediately. Has this happened to you? You are not alone. In fact, I often think that PCS classes and deployment readiness workshops should be given in conjunction.
While I will admit moving to an unfamiliar area and not having an in-place support system can be stressful, it’s also a chance to find out what you are made of. Here are a few ways to build up your military spouse tool box and help you prepare for the double whammy — the PCS followed by the deployment.
Before your move
Visit MilitaryInstallations — and I’m totally not just saying that because this is a Military OneSource blog. It really is full of lots of useful, great and accurate information. Once you have a baseline feel for your new duty station, hit up Google, hard and often. Scope out the neighborhoods you might want to live in, check out base housing and decide on a safe location to live. Also take this as a chance to scope out your new city and start a list of things to see, activities for your kiddos, possible job opportunities and recon the daycare or school options. Search social media for groups pertaining to your new duty station. Then lurk. That’s what I do. I look at current conversations, check out previous conversations and really get a feel for our new home. If we are going to be “doing the deployment thing” immediately I want to hit the ground running without trial and error, such as picking the wrong dance center for ballet classes… oh, the horror.
And seriously, start mentally preparing. Life is going to be a little chaotic. Know that in advance and embrace it. I know that I personally handle stressful situations when I know in advance that it’s going to be stressful and remind myself that “Hey, I can deal with chaos for a few months. I can do this. Totes. Seriously. I’ve got this.”
After your move, before deployment
Go to the briefs and spouse workshops. Yes, even if you have been a million times before. Use it as a chance to network with other spouses. Not only will you be holding down the home front with these spouses, but chances are there are a few that have been in the area a while and can help you get connected. You might even be surprised and learn something new since the last time your spouse deployed, such as access to local services to help families of deployed service members.
Also, don’t forget to get your kids settled as quickly as possible after the move. Military life is a roller coaster but you can help by doing the normal things you do after a PCS such as unpacking their rooms first, enrolling them in clubs or sports and helping them build up their own support network to help deal while their parent is deployed.
While being left to establish your family in a new place while your spouse is deployed isn’t ideal, it isn’t the end of the world. With a positive attitude and preparation you can add another gold star to your “awesome things I accomplished while my spouse deployed” list.