Congrats! Your spouse just received orders for Germany. Germany? A person can hear this statement and start to feel all sorts of emotions, and this is completely normal. In November 2017, my husband sent me a message. I look down to read the message which was short and to the point: “We are going to Germany.” I was overwhelmed with different emotions, including excitement, happiness, fear, and nervousness.
My husband and I have had the honor of living in Europe in the past. However, while we lived there we didn’t have a little one, so I knew in the back of my mind this was going to be a whole new playing field for all of us. At first, I wanted to tell all my friends and family, but due to the fear of orders changing, I didn’t tell friends until about two months out. Closer friends and family that understood the Army knew well in advance. Honestly, I do not like having to explain to people the disappointment of losing a dream, so I chose not to share until I know it is a go!
When it comes to moving overseas, it can be tricky! Here is a list of things I did to make our move easier:
Get your ducks in a row if you have an exceptional family member. My family and I are not enrolled with the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); however, when moving OCONUS, this is a step that needs to be done. As soon as I knew Germany was a go, I called the clinic on Post to get paperwork and appointments started.
Don’t forget your pet’s information. We have a family pet, a dog named Alley. For us, leaving her behind was not an option. I contacted my vet on Post to see what the process was. I also looked up information on flying overseas with pets. Remember that each flight is different, so it is also a good idea to call the airline company to see what their policies are. (Pro tip: If you can book your flight on Patriotic Air early when flying with pets, it is cheaper!)
Figure out what household goods you need. It is best to go through your stuff and get rid of things that you don’t use. Military housing is a lot smaller without garages on most Army Posts. Some apartments have balconies and some are open floor plan. Each Post is different with the apartment layouts. Do a search online to see if you can find layouts on your post in Germany or check Facebook for groups that share this information. There are a lot of groups on Facebook that answer questions for arriving and current Soldiers and their families.
Remember Child, Youth, and School Programs/Services (CYS). Did you know you can transfer your kid’s information from Post to Post? I didn’t know this until I asked them early in the moving process. My daughter’s file was transferred over and ready for us. We just needed two new emergency contacts for her!
Consider shipping your goods early. If you can, ship your goods and car early, especially if you are moving over during peak season. It can take a while to get both. We still don’t have our goods yet. By the time our goods get here, it will be over three months without it.
Check with services on base to get information. Before heading out, check out on-base services, like the Army Community Services (ACS) Relocation readiness department. Before we left I went and talked to someone at Fort Leavenworth’s ACS. They had a ton of handouts, books, coloring books for the kids, and more! It made the moving process easier on my five year old.
Try the ACS Loan closet. Utilize ACS’ loan closet on your Post. My family and I used it in Fort Leavenworth and now in Germany. It makes a difference and has saved us a lot of money.
It doesn’t matter where the next PCS is. There will always be stress and new challenges; however, by taking time to research the next Post, look for support groups on Facebook, and checking out your local on-base moving services will go along way. With the steps above, my family and I were ahead of the game!
What step did you take that made a difference with your move?
Posted by Jessica Richardson, NMFA Volunteer and military spouse, Ansbach, Germany