By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse

As if military moving wasn’t stressful enough, what happens when life gets in the way of the pack out?

Military Moving – Graduation! A Wedding! A PCS! Oh My!

The first time it happened to me, I was planning my wedding. The movers came and packed the entire house. A week later my Marine and I walked down the aisle. Ten days after that, he had to report to his new duty station. And no, we never did take that honeymoon!

It happened again when my daughter made her first communion just three weeks before a military move. We hosted my parents, my sister’s family and my brother’s family, all from out of town. And let me tell you, its not easy trying to empty your freezer or use up cleaning supplies when you’re playing host!

June is Bustin’ Out All Over!

In addition to being the height of PCS season, June is also the month for many special occasions. There are weddings, end of the year sports banquets, concerts, plays, recitals and of course, the big one, graduation. We’ve had friends who, in the middle of a pack out, had to attend a dance recital or soccer picnic. Military brats are known for their resilience but these end of the year moments are still important to them. And it’s common for military families to set aside the packing tape and gussy themselves up to attend these special occasions. One of the hardest to work around is the high school graduation.

Most military kids have attended multiple schools, even multiple high schools. So the attachment to a school or a set of friends may not necessarily be there. But a high school graduation is so much more than that. It signifies the end of an era, the end of childhood. It is a special time, both for you as a family and your graduate.

Most kids go off to college or the military following high school graduation. So the occasion is marked with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Attending Baccalaureate, the graduation ceremony itself, and the after party is easier said than done in the middle of a military move.

Tips for making graduation special during a PCS!

  • One way to help things go smoother is to make arrangements for family and friends to stay at a local hotel. Some hotels will offer a special discount rate for groups of 10 or more.  If you are lucky, these guests might stick around to help you with your move!
  • If your house is being packed out in the days leading up to graduation, set aside clothing for the ceremony and gifts for your grad along with your other Do Not Pack items in a designated room or closet.
  • Instead of hosting a huge grad party at your house, see if you can join in on a joint party with friends. Having a friend host takes the festivities out of your home. You can contribute in other ways with providing decorations or food. Another option is hosting a grad party at a local restaurant or other venue.
  • Some people have chosen to hold the celebration early. Hosting a large party in mid-May weeks ahead of a June pack out is preferable for some. This allows you to honor your senior but is far enough in advance to not interfere with the PCS.
  • Another option is holding off on the celebration until the move is over. Attend the ceremony, pack up, move to your new location, and once things are settled, plan a nice outing later in the summer. Some families have bypassed an immediate celebration and waited until late summer or winter break to take a family cruise or vacation to commemorate this special event.

Set aside the packing tape

Military moving in the middle of life’s special occasions is challenging at best. It may be tempting to push graduation celebrations aside with a move on the horizon, but to your graduate this is a huge accomplishment that deserves some recognition. So set aside the packing tape and the boxes and take pride as your student walks up to the stage to accept that diploma. It’s an achievement that may have been earned at multiple schools in several different states making it all the more an accomplishment for your graduate.

Carla Olivo has garnered numerous Television industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children. 

Carla Olivo

PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications