The PCS Struggle - It’s OK to Break Down

Ask anyone who’s been associated with the military for longer than a decade and you will hear about the duty stations that they loved- and those they hated. Many spouses will tell you how it wasn’t ideal, but they knew it would only be a few years and they would be moving. They somehow made due with where they were at, and have a good story or two to tell for it. If you are in my generation of military spouses- those of us who were in the first wave after 9/11- you grew through back to back deployments and the mentality of figuring it out as you go. We learned how to be everything to everyone. We didn’t gripe or complain. We went with our service member to where duty called. We were thrust into Family Readiness Groups and knocking on doors of the neighbors when we needed to figure something out. But now that the op tempo of life has changed. We have a moment to breathe. We have a moment to finally slow down and catch ourselves. We’re able to have stability for a bit, make some lifelong friends, and start that career we’ve been putting off for years.

We have a moment to have some kind of normalcy that may resemble something that our civilian friends and family may even be able to recognize.

It always happens right at a time when we often least expect it. We have found our place, got in our groove, and then our service member drops the news of PCS orders on us.

We feel on edge- not knowing if we should be happy or sad. What if these orders are to our dream location? But what if it’s a place we don’t want to go? Something less desirable than where we are now? What then? So we hold our breath and await to hear to news.

It’s the PCS struggle. Its leaving what we know and going into the unknown world. Its hating the orders we get because it takes us away from our tribe we spent the last 3 years building. It’s hating the orders that take us to the middle of no where on a remote assignment. It’s the orders that take us too close to the misery of the home we left behind. It’s the orders to what is deemed the worst post in the military.

We struggle with it.

PCSing is supposed to be an adventure! I shouldn’t be sad about it. I should be excited to go somewhere new. But we’ll cry and grieve the orders, and friend, let me tell you now that it is okay. It is okay to hate the orders you received. It is okay to not want to go. It is okay to scream, cry and curse them away. Its okay to break down.

Every PCS is an adventure, but it doesn’t mean that we have to enjoy it. Sometimes its not just about the location. It can be about the process too. Its another week of having strangers trapeze through our home, handling our memories, and hopefully packing everything carefully into boxes. Its deciding what is going and what we can do without. How will we fit everything into a home 500 square feet smaller? Can we afford rent over BAH? Is the school district good enough? Will the commute be too long?

It’s the process of picking up and starting over at that new location that we can’t decide if we need to be happy or sad about. And sometimes, its not just the worry of our home, or the location. As a parent, it’s the struggle to make sure our children transition and adjust too. Its spending the hours praying they find a friend at school, praying there is someone in your neighborhood for them, praying for just one.

And while we’re in the midst of trying to hold it all together over location, our household good, and our children, we’ll often feel that we’re about to bust at the seams and spill everything out.

The PCS Breakdown.

Its’s real, and it can be ugly, but most times it is just what we unexpectedly need. The time to let it out, to be vulnerable, to stop your feet, cry, and even yell if you need to. Or smash a plate. We don’t have to be happy about moving or the process. We don’t have to enjoy it. We don’t have to go silently down the road following the Uhaul truck. But we go because we love our service member.

So while its not all happiness, sunshine and rainbows when it comes time to PCS, it will be always be an adventure, and don’t forget that its ok to have that breakdown when you need it.

Megan Harless is an Army Veteran and active duty spouse of 13 years. She spends her time advocating for PCS Reform, volunteering in her community, and raising her three children. In her down time she enjoys watching movies, traveling, and searching for the worlds best chocolate!


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