This is one of those things that doesn’t seem like a big deal. Oh, you were supposed to move to California, and now you’re heading to Virginia? Cool — until it happens to you. Only then do you finally understand the frustration — and full-on freak out that sweeps over you when orders change. Like long lines at the commissary on payday and the driver in front of you talking the gate guard’s ear off when you’re in a hurry, changing orders is one of those certainties of military life.
So how do you keep from completely losing your mind when orders change? Glad you asked — here are five ways that will steer you away from a PCS-induced meltdown.
Welcome to the Club, We’ve Been Waiting for You
Maybe you experienced a change to your service member’s orders early on in their career, or maybe it took years before you were given the old switcheroo. Hawaii, here we come! Just kidding — it’s Kansas — that’s right, you’re going to Kansas. When your family’s orders change at the last minute, it can seem isolating — like you have it worse than anyone else who’s ever PCSed in the history of PCSing.
Remember that while your particular set of circumstances might be unique, nearly all military families have been caught off guard at some point and have had to learn to cope. Maybe this isn’t the cure-all you were looking for, but hey, we’ve done it and survived, so the odds look good for you too. Plus, now you have all this extra stress that is really just character building in the long run. Look at what you’re made of!
Remember It’s a Two-Way Street
You always hear about the times when orders changed for the worse, but orders can change in your favor. Think about it. Has your service member been tasked for deployment and then for whatever reason, didn’t end up going? It happens. What about verbal PCS orders to a less-desirable corner of the world and then somehow, when all was said and done, you moved to an installation just four hours away? Again, it happens. Being thankful for the times when orders change in your favor can make the other times a little easier to stomach.
Keep Details Vague
Get used to answering questions with the phrase, “I’m not sure, we’ll see!” This catch-all will alert curious family members and friends that you are uncertain where you are moving next, when you are moving next, how long you’ll be stationed at your current installation, and when your service member might deploy. Even if you have verbal orders for a move in the near future, keep it vague. More often than not, the details will change, and you’ll find yourself back-peddling, explaining yourself and even hiding from well-meaning friends before they can point out, “But you said you were moving to Kansas! What happened?” The military happened — that’s what.
But, Research Like Crazy Behind the Scenes
You might be keeping it vague to friends and family, but just in case you actually do move where the military says you will, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your future installation and surrounding areas.
Being mentally prepared for starting over is never a bad idea, whether that means researching schools or housing areas. So, get to work! Just don’t get too attached to that darling Spanish-style rambler you saw you for rent in your price range, with a garden and neighborhood pool. It’s incredibly difficult to remain emotionally detached once you let your guard down and begin the search for a new life, but try to remain as objective as possible, especially when orders might very well change.
When Orders Change, Take a Minute to Let it Out
This is a biggie. Some people may be able to take on an “easy come, easy go” attitude about the whole changing orders thing. But, if you are like many military mamas, once those orders were cut, you started envisioning your new life. Maybe you started daydreaming about pina coladas on the beach at your tropical duty station and enrolling your kiddos in surf lessons. when orders change to the Pacific Northwest, for example, your imaginary future vanishes. The change of plans might be a great installation, but it wasn’t what you pictured. So, take a few deep breaths before mentally preparing for the new location. Let’s just hope you didn’t already purchase surfboards and 20 new bathing suits. That’s what OfferUp is for, right?
There are simply too many moving parts when it comes to military personnel, and, for better or for worse, families are along for the ride. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to military orders, and it’s important to loosen your grip on any sort of imagined future life.
Start your research and keep that loose grip because you just never know.
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