independence, milspouse, PCS, Uncategorized

You Can Help New Milspouses Research Their Next Duty Station!

What is the first thing you do when you/your spouse gets orders?  RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!!  I’m always looking at how far the BAH goes, what neighborhoods are the nicest, where the best schools are, what has the easiest commute, etc.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place to visit that would give you all that information or at least a place to start looking?

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That is exactly what I’m trying to build.  But I’ve obviously not lived in every location.  I wouldn’t even know what to say about Navy, Air Force, or Marine bases!  That is where you all come in!  I’ve created a super quick Google Form to start compiling all the info I would love to share with families.  Legit, it only takes 2 minutes to complete and can make a huge difference!  I don’t collect any personal information and will be doing all the leg work of finding addresses, phone numbers, etc of the recommended businesses.

Please take the time to fill it out! Click Here For Duty Station Survey

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PCS, Uncategorized

To Claim or Not To Claim?!

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So we did it.  We made it from Fort Campbell to Dallas.  The moving truck came and went.  The movers were not particularly confidence inspiring, but to be honest we have only had one set of movers that we believed in.  Which of course leaves us with the same old question:  To Claim or not To Claim?!

First: Make Sure You Have Realistic Expectations

Having my stuff boxed up is never that big a deal to me.  I always set aside the super important stuff so that we can deal with that ourselves. Watching movers load and unload the truck is a whole different story.  That sends my anxiety through the roof.  The massive game of Tetris they play with my belongings makes me want to throw up.

There are some items that never make it through… Ever.  Backyard Grill? HA! King Sized box spring, yea right! Then there are other things that you have to wonder if they were TRYING to mess it up… 1200 LB gun safe that’s rated to withstand the apocalypse?! Thompson Movers can dent it, Just give ’em a week!

Second: Remember that Just Because You Won’t Replace it Now Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Replace it Ever

When we first started this little military journey of ours, we only claimed major issues.  Seriously damaged furniture, multiple broken dishes etc.  Over time we realized that most of the time things don’t get seriously damaged.  They get scuffed, nicked, rubbed or chipped.  We weren’t necessarily going to run right out and replace everything, but if we continued down the path we were on we would find ourselves surrounded by shabby belongings without the monetary means to replace them.  That’s when we started to claim damn. near. everything.  If it cost us more than $20 dollars and it was damaged in any way, we claim it.

Third: Weigh The Effort and the Reward

At first it seemed insane.  Do we really need to claim the cowboy hat that no one has worn in 7 years?!  We had to research the brand and validate the cost we were requesting.  Back in the day that was really all we had to do.  Prove it cost as much as we said and send pictures that it was messed up.  Now its a much longer process.  They send someone out to the house to check on any larger items that you claim (furniture, tools, purses etc) to validate that they need to be replaced and not just repaired.  You’ll still get compensated if a repair needs to be made, but they will research repair shops  and only give you the amount it would cost to fix it.  That whole process can take up to 2 months from the day you first complete the online claim form.

Yes, it takes a long time.  Yes, the government websites including Move.Mil are incredibly frustrating, but it doesn’t really take much effort.  Once you file your initial claim and submit your substantiated documentation (receipts, current cost at retailer etc) there is really no effort on your end.  It can mean the difference between hundreds (or THOUSANDS) of dollars in your pocket.

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milspouse, PCS

When The Army Finally Gives You Answers

Our no later than date came and went…. No real surprise there.  I almost expect it at this point.  You know who doesn’t expect it?  My mother-in-law.  Had to field constant questions from her, without any real answers… but whatever.  I’m used to that by now…

Two weeks after we were supposed to find out what our plans were, we finally found out.  My husband is going to graduate school in Dallas with a two-year follow on assignment at United States Military Academy.  Thank goodness we got answers when we did because at that point the move was only 6 weeks away and we had to go out to Texas that weekend so that we could buy a house and close in time for moving day.  Nothing like crunch time to add a layer of stress to an already stressful lifestyle!!

Let The Search Begin!!

We packed up the mighty SwaggerWagon (aka family minivan) and drove out to Dallas to house search.  I had found a real estate agent, gave her our parameters, sent a bunch of MLS listings that I was interested in and in 1 day we saw 27 house.  Phew!! Our realtor, Laura Bacon of Coldwell Banker, was the answer to our prayers.  Thank goodness my in-laws met us and took our kids off our hands so that we could get it done.  I seriously have no idea how we would have done it if we had to drag the boys with us.

We found an amazing house that not only fits our needs but should rent well once we are ready to move to New York.  This is the third home my husband and I have purchased since he joined the military and we still own the others, with renters currently living in them.  Now we are firmly in the mortgage process, which is such a pain in the butt.  Not difficult, just tedious and time-consuming.

Time to Find … Everything

Now that we have answered the question of where we are going to live, I’m trying to figure out the rest of our lives!!  I was able to schedule pediatric and dental appointments for the boys.  My older son is on the waitlist at 2 different preschools and I am waiting to tour facilities before plopping down tuition.  I’m having a bit of difficulty finding an adult dentist for myself.  Now that TriCare has switched from MetLife to United Concordia it is really difficult to find dentists that accept the insurance, especially since we won’t be stationed in an area with a base.  I know that I can go to a major chain (think Aspen etc) but I would really rather go to a private dentist.  So that is a bit of a pain in the rear.  I’ve put in notice with Joseph’s current school and with our on-post housing complex.

Overall I’m making great progress and feel like I’ve really got the logistics of our move under control.  We are now 3 weeks away from my husband’s change of command.  It’s going to go by in the blink of an eye… Can’t wait to see what else pops up!!  We went from sitting on our hands waiting for answers to a frenzied race against the clock.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

independence, milspouse

Is the New Year Bringing Big Changes for You?!

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“Cause, man…. Do we got some stuff coming down the pike….

I think that everyone has some sort of reaction to the end/beginning of a new year.  Personally, I think that it affects milspouses the most.

With how hectic and chaotic military life can get, a new calendar year can bring A LOT of change.  Even when changes are expected the change of year makes it all seem so REAL, ya know?  I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed this year.  Very recently my husband came home with flowers and sushi…. aka bomb dropping gifts.  I was under the impression that he would be changing out of command in the spring and that he would then begin an 18 month MBA program.  Not only was my husband getting to continue his education, as a family we would have solid, non deployable, family time.  But then…. the sushi… and now we are waiting until the end of January to find out if he got picked for a high-profile aide position.  Did I mention the job comes with a 9 month stint in Afghanistan?  So there’s that…

For us, this position has so many implications on our future.  We haven’t decided on the military as a 20 year commitment yet.  The MBA would kick that decision down the road a little.  Which works for us, we like this lifestyle but are still on the fence.  But this job is amazing and opens so many doors for my husband’s career that we would pretty much be making the commitment to 20+years.  It would be silly to take this job and not continue to compete at a higher level in order to maximize his time in the Army.  I’m honestly happy with either course of action.

The not knowing though!!!  Holy Cow!  We have had so much not knowing over the years, that the certainty that I had before was so refreshing.  Having it yanked away hasn’t been easy to deal with.

What crazy things is the military throwing at you in 2018?