By Rheanna Christine, National Guard Spouse
We all know that in military life we don’t always get what we want. We face deployments that happen at inconvenient times, last minute TDYs, over-night shifts and the dreaded “not anywhere on my dream sheet” PCS location. Blogs all over the internet talk about the worst duty locations, what to do if you hate your new home and how to prepare for the worst. You put a call out to all your military spouse friends to fully prepare yourself for the horrors that await you, and you just know you will be miserable! But what if you chose to find the joy in your next duty station? What if you went in finding out all the things that make that location special? There are people that live there, that call that place home and that might be the most valuable resource of all.
Find the Joy in Your New Duty Station
So, what do you do now? You get the word that you are headed to “insert your worst nightmare here,” and you start panicking. In less than ten minutes you are an anxiety-riddled stress ball, and there’s no going back. I know! I get it, and I’ve worried about those same things. But there are a few things you can do to help ease the transition.
Research Your Community
And I don’t mean just do a basic Google search! Check out their local tourism page, or community page. Even the weirdest places have something. Every place has someone who loves living there, even Minot, North Dakota!! (Am I right Air Force?) Search for local Bloggers that live in that area. They are an amazing resource because part of their job is to love their community!
Want to get the real info about a location? Check out PCSgrades.com and read what other military families have to say about base housing, the local neighborhoods and local realtors. Reading how other mil-families felt welcomed by the community can really go a long way in making you feel comfortable as you venture into the unknown of a new duty station.
Live in Your Community
It’s easy as a military family to simply move to your next location and simply assimilate into the ready-made military community there. But a sure-fire way to connect yourself with your new community is to live in it. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to actually live off-post, but it’s always an option. Living in your community means to get involved in your community, and get your kids involved. We join our neighborhood pool, attend our town meetings, and our kids are involved in off-base sports and events. The military community is always an option, but to connect yourself to the outside community is to connect yourself to the town.
It’s All About Perspective
I actually had this conversation yesterday with someone. A friend said to me, “I feel like people forget how hard it is to be left behind.” It’s a valid point. We are always thinking about what it is like to be the one that leaves. We have to start over in a new place, and yes that is hard. But we are moving into another community with other people that are going through the same thing we are. Those we leave behind will have to face military families moving out of their communities yet again in another three years. We end up putting each other at arms distance because of this, and that does a great disservice to ourselves and anyone else we come into contact with. Connecting with someone in the community could be what makes or breaks this time for you. Change your perspective.
Sometimes moves aren’t easy, and some locations are just harder than others. But as cheesy as it sounds, you have to find the good in where you are, otherwise you’ll go crazy. If you’re going to be there for longer than a few months, finding a way to invest in your community makes sense. Isolating yourself and focusing on the negative only harms you and make it seem more miserable than it has to be. Research your community, jump right in and change your perspective!
Find the Joy
One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in your new location is to do your homework. At PCSgrades.com fellow military and veteran families offer their take on what they like and maybe don’t like about their duty station, their neighborhood, commute times, schools etc. Networking has always been the way to get anything done within the military community and PCSgrades’ Interactive Messaging System is a great way for military families to connect and share valuable information without compromising their privacy or security to do so. Take advantage of this great resource when you are starting to put the pieces together in figuring out your new duty station. Learning the lay of the land is the beginning of finding joy in your new duty station!
PCSgrades Author: Rheanna Christine is a freelance writer currently based in Washington, DC. When she isn’t writing, she stays at home with her three children. She has been featured in Military Spouse Magazine, USA Today, and National Guard and Reserve Magazine. In 2016, she co-founded and launched, with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), SpouseTalks, an interactive forum targeted to all branches of the Guard and Reserves.