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Military families face many unique challenges and experiences, not least of which is having to move every few years. A military move is officially called a permanent change of station, colloquially called a “PCS.”  

Anyone who has gone through the process more than once is intimately familiar with the unique experience. You know there are some cultural distinctions involved in having government contract movers pack up all your stuff, ship it across the country, and unpack it at your new place. 

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Here are 17 things you’ll only understand if you’ve PCS’ed multiple times:

  1. You’ve lamented an impending move because you just finally memorized your current address.
  2. You’ve contemplated signing yourself up for the television show “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” because you cannot fathom how you’ve managed to accumulate so much stuff since your last PCS.
  3. You’ve congratulated yourself on your thrifty “scratch and dent” section furniture purchases because everything you own will inevitably be scratched and dented, so you might as well save a little cash up front.
  4. You’ve wasted more almost full bottles of ketchup and ranch dressing than you care to admit.
  5. You’ve dreamed about someday buying post-military “grown up” furniture.
  6. You’ve found several of those colorful little moving stickers with the serial numbers still around from a previous PCS, and you’ve only bothered to remove them so they don’t confuse things with the current move.
  7. You’ve cringed while watching your worldly possessions drive away, hoping not to see them later on the news.
  8. You’ve spent at least one night sleeping in a nest of your least favorite blankets on the floor of an otherwise empty apartment.
  9. You’ve requested an unpack at the destination, only to reconsider that decision after discovering mountains of wrinkled clothing on your bare mattress and the apparent aftermath of a hurricane on your kitchen counter.
  10. You’ve opened a box at your new home to reveal a garbage can containing month-old trash. The movers are not joking about packing everything as-is.
  11. You’ve discovered that your toilet plunger has been packed cleverly — unwrapped, snuggled in your fruit bowl.
  12. Your favorite piece of furniture has arrived in splintered pieces and you’ve mused about the oh-so-luxurious replacement you’ll buy with that $30 reimbursement offer.
  13. You own curtains in various lengths that you’d love to purge, but simply refuse, because they could totally fit perfectly at your next place.
  14. You’ve unpacked the refrigerator manual from your last rented house. Oops.
  15. At some point during a move as you’re trying to get a question answered, you’ve wondered why it feels like you’re the first person ever in the history of the world to have PCS’ed.
  16. You’ve rolled your eyes when someone says, “it’s so nice that they move you so you don’t have to do anything!”
  17. You’ve looked forward to starting fresh at a new duty station, because regardless of the challenges, there will always be opportunities ahead.