Today, I’m happy to have fellow milspouse blogger, Meg, guest posting about her very exciting (and intimidating) PCS. Enjoy!
Have you ever had a moment where you feel like your whole life is a dream, and you should be waking up any minute now?
I’m essentially living an endless version of that called: Getting Ready for an Overseas PCS.
We knew it was always a possibility. I mean, the US Armed Forces have bases on six of the seven continents and personnel stationed all over the place. But I never really, truly believed it could happen. We’ve always been so lucky. Ever since my spouse joined up, we’ve gotten his first pick for duty stations: SoCal, DC, SoCal. This time, we were hoping to extend in SoCal. Apparently Uncle Sam had other ideas.
So, OCONUS we shall go!
Except, before we leave these shores, there are about a million and one hoops to jump through, and twice that amount of conflicting information to digest and sift through. Oh, joy!
Up first, medical clearance. If you have never done this, find a friend who has. Once you have a buddy, please join hands and do not let go. I repeat: Do. Not. Let. Go. Your task is to find all the various forms you need to fill out, read the military language that tells you how to complete said form, and then turn it in.
Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong. First you need to contact your doctor and get the person who answers the phone to understand what you need. Repeat this for every single item on the checklist. For example, I needed a simple little lab test. The actual blood draw took seconds. Getting someone on the phone to put in the order for said lab? An hour. I kid you not.
And that is just for one form. I also have a complete medical screening, a dental screening, and probably a screening to check if I can just apparate there instead.
Wait. Is that an option? If so, how do I make that happen?
Once you add in identical screenings for kids and pets, the to do list is overwhelming.
Never mind the packing, sorting, storing, and travel arrangements that come with a “normal” PCS.
Every so often (read: every second of every day), I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around all the moving parts and requirements to accomplish this move. I honestly have no idea how all three humans and one small dog will make it onto the plane together and alive!
It’s also very strange to think about how drastically my life is going to change, and also not change, because of this PCS. It’s not always right there in my conscious mind. Often, the realization that I’m leaving the US happens suddenly.
I’m shampooing my hair and BAM! I realize that in just a few months, I will be showering in a completely different country. I’m in line at the grocery store and WHAM! I wonder if I will be even able to understand the labels on the food I’ll be buying in a few months. I’m doing laundry and SHAZAM! I realize that I might not need to wear jeans for three years because I’ll be in the tropics.
This last one jogs me back to reality: I will be literally living on a tropical island in a few months. How cool is that?!?! Me, the girl who has never left the North American continent, will be going far, far away and living in a veritable paradise. From everything I’ve heard about our new “hometown,” it is seriously amazing. The people are friendly, the food is outstanding, and the beaches have white sand and coral reefs. Coral reefs!
As frustrating and annoying and generally inconvenient as this whole screening process is, I’m pretty sure that it will be worth every second of aggravation in the end. Now, back to that apparating idea. I’m really hoping that this is an actual option because I’m ready to be on my nice tropical island right now.
Meg Flanagan is a special and elementary education teacher who holds an M.Ed in special education and a BS in elementary education. In addition to classroom experience, she has also worked in private tutoring and home schools. Meg is passionate about education advocacy for all children, but especially for children with special needs and children of military and state department personnel. You can find Meg online at MilKids Education Consulting, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.