By Carla Olivo, Marine Spouse

It seems no matter how many times I move, I am still caught off guard by a few things that I either forget are simply the brutal facts of PCSing, or I just don’t see it coming.

Like most military spouses, I learned a few disappointing things very early in our military moving adventures. Little gems such as you can’t count on your packers to be the cleanest people in the world. That’s why mil-spouses always wish they had bought stock in jumbo Ziploc bags.

Anyone who has made a military move more than once knows that it never goes 100% smooth. Even the best PCSes usually hit a snag.

Here are five things that always sneak up on me and serve as a reminder that a military move is not fun.

#1 The Packers Hate Their Job.

Ok, not ALL packers. But how many have you really met that actually love their job? The good ones tolerate it.  With each PCS, I’m always optimistic that I might get that one crew that lives to pack!

I’ve done my share of moving myself, and it’s kind of like wrapping presents at Christmas time. The first couple of gifts look great. The paper is precisely cut, and the handmade bow looks spectacular! By the end, I’m throwing brown paper at the kids and screaming at them to color.

I get that wrapping china, dishes, silverware, books, and toys all day long might wear on a person. BUT, and it’s a big but, they are wrapping our most precious personal items, and we deserve better than we usually get.

#2 The Moving Crew is on their own time Schedule.

I know people run late. I am guilty of that myself. But I can’t think of a time where I reported to work 3 hours later than expected WITHOUT giving a heads up to those waiting on me. On my very first PCS, I was told to expect the packers at 8 am. By 11 am, I was calling to see where they were. The crew of 3 rolled in just before noon. No explanation offered.

All of our PCS moves were not this bad, but we’ve had packing crews show up a day early. We’ve had a 3-day packout turn into one. We’ve had our delivery date moved, and moved again.

That original crew that arrived mid-day, they broke for an hour-long lunch at 1 pm and were done for the day at 5 pm. With every military move, I expect better but it never really happens.

#3 I’ve thrown out or donated all of the items, clothes, and toys we no longer use, and it’s still not enough.

I PCS to my new location certain that for once there will actually be extra room in my closets. The kids’ toys will ALL fit in the cabinet we bought specifically for that purpose. I’ll have room in my kitchen cabinets because I’ve spent months purging, tossing and driving to the Goodwill. So, our moving truck will be half empty right?

Not so much. With every military move, I sweat our overall weight. And I am always shocked at how much we still own!

#4 If I feed the Movers/Packers my delicious cooking, they will like me.

Wow. This one could not be further from the truth, yet with every military move, I plan to wow them with the best lunch they’ve ever had. I’m not above a bribe. I have mil-spouse friends who swear this works. It doesn’t. I’ve had moves where I put out my best lasagna and oven-warmed rolls and still have a seemingly endless list of lost and damaged items. I’ve had other moves where I’m so behind that all I can do is order pizza and the move goes great.

Hmmm, maybe I need to reevaluate my cooking skills!

#5 I expect the worst and hope for the best, and I’m still disappointed.

With every move, I start the pre-PCS purging and organizing early. I have every checklist ever made. Actually, all I need is the PCSgrades Moving Checklist, but regardless, I’m checking things off the list at rapid speed.

Kids’ going away party/sleepover…check.

Give away $300 in freezer items…check.

Give away our liquor supply….check.

We do try to stop buying when we know we are moving, but we never quite calculate the beer and wine right.

It doesn’t seem to matter how prepared I am; there is always something that goes wrong. Whether it’s a nasty crew, valuable items lost or stolen, or our new home not being what we expected, it is always something with military moving.

So I do not offer any platitudes or words of wisdom here. I tell myself, suck it up. It could be worse, and we all know IT REALLY COULD BE WORSE! Just look at the Lost During My PCS Facebook page sometime.

You think you have it bad.

Is Change Coming?

There is some movement with changing the PCS process. Most of us signed the petition last summer. Will it result in any real change? Your guess is as good as mine.

PCSgrades is building a database of reviews of Moving Companies, Realtors, etc. Whether that becomes a powerhouse database that we can all refer back to remains to be seen. It really depends on us, the military and veteran community, to participate in helping ourselves.

Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting and Documentary Reporting. She has survived five PCS moves and currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their children.

Carla Olivo

Director of Strategic Communications