It’s that time of year again. We know it well. It starts around mid-May and goes through late summer. Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Season. My Facebook Newsfeed is flooded with posts and pictures of my military friends who are moving this summer. I find myself envious of the new and exciting locations they’re about to call home.
As for us? We just passed the four-year mark at our current duty station with no end in sight. I know nonmilitary families that move more often than we do.
Among the list of reasons our spouses joined the military, I’d dare to assume, at least 95 percent put “see the world” in their top 5. My husband was one of them. It was on my list too.
Twelve plus years ago, my future husband, a newly commissioned second lieutenant with his butter bars still gleaming, took off to NAS Pensacola for flight school. Big adventures were ahead of him. Exactly five moves (two to the same Air Force base) later, here we are, between the same two longitudes as when it all started.
Are you sitting in the same boat/jet/tank as us? Sometimes I feel like we’re the only ones who
never rarely move. Please allow me to offer how to make the best of your PCS (or lack thereof) situation.
Get Real About It
Our family does not currently reside in the most glamorous of Air Force destinations. I’m fairly certain our barely school-aged children are going to graduate from high school here at this point. However, there are still things to be thankful for!
We are close to family. Any military family can appreciate how rare and fleeting this can be, and we do not take for granted how special this current situation is.
My kids have routine and familiarity. Now, we all know that military kids are some of the most resilient and strong kids in the world, but let’s be honest, we also know that kids thrive on structure. How often does a military kid get 4+ years in the same daycare/school/church/extracurricular activities?
I love my job. I’ve had the privilege to work with and develop relationships with peers and mentors that I wouldn’t necessarily have had the opportunity to if we moved every two years.
Your duty station can always be worse. I would never throw a specific military installation under the bus, but we all know that some “out rank” others or have greater appeal. Granted, how you feel about your current location is truly subjective. Remember, when you’re really feeling down about where you’re at that at least you’re not stationed _______.
Surely you can name at least three reasons why you’re thankful to be where you are!
During my early years as a military spouse, I was certainly guilty of not getting involved. For some reason I always had this fear that if I did, we’d move, and it would have been “wasted.” When I did get involved, it was always at the bare minimum.
When I knew we were for sure not moving anytime soon I decided that I was going to branch out of my comfort zone and actually get more involved in our community.
As a family, we got more involved in our church. Friendships have formed that will transcend our time in the Air Force.
Wanting to find ways to love my community on a very tangible level, I got involved in a local nonprofit organization.
Going out on a limb, I put myself out there for a job opportunity that I always felt was not possible until my husband retired.
I coached my son’s soccer team. OK, maybe that wasn’t the best decision, but it did make memories!
Get Out There
As military spouses, we’re constantly talking about different PCS locations. If someone claims to truly dislike a particular location, the common theme tends to be one of two things. Either they never do anything the city has to offer, or they don’t bother getting outside of the city.
Fortunately, we live in a very “military friendly” city and almost all the local “attractions” have military discounts that increase their appeal. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done something only because it was free or discounted, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised by the experience. Children can be easily amused. Just because I don’t necessarily think something is great, it could seem like the greatest activity to your kids. Make it your personal goal to find that hidden gem in your city.
Our family alternates vacations every year. One year we fly somewhere — usually to the beach or the mountains. The next year we’ll drive someplace within a reasonable distance that we have never visited. Don’t get so tied down to where your current location is because I can pretty much guarantee that you’re at least a day’s drive from something unforgettable. We have been places that we definitely would not have gone to had we not been a drivable distance from and have made memories as a family that we will never forget.
PCS Season will come again. Until then, we’re going to make the most of where we are now.