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Should you do the DITY move?

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Every military family has thought about doing a Personal Procured Move (PPM) or DITY move at some point along the way. Was it the time the screws to the crib were lost, or you had to sleep on the air mattress for the 14th night in a row? For our family, it was when only half of our HHG arrived at the new duty station. We had a dining room table with no chairs, office chair without a desk, box springs sans the mattress. It took another two weeks to get the issue resolved. Two weeks! And after hearing PCS horror stories from other military families, we realized how lucky we were!


We vowed to do a full DITY move, ok fine PPM, the next time. It went so well we have never looked back. Here are our tips to maximize preparation time and minimize move time.

DITY MOVE: COLLECT BOXES FROM FELLOW MILITARY FAMILIES

Summer isn't the only time military families PCS. If you know orders are coming in the next year, it's helpful to start collecting free supplies sooner rather than later. Mattress and wardrobe boxes are the best. If you get "surprise orders" you can still put out a PSA on the local Facebook pages and see if anyone has any boxes left over that they are willing to unload. Liquor stores have lots of boxes they will let you take off their hands, and they frequently come with dividers in the wine boxes. Can we say makeshift dish packs?

GET ORGANIZED

Dedicate a space in your house where you can put all the packed up boxes. A garage is an excellent option if you have one! Pack up one room at a time starting with the least used room and work backward. It's also a good opportunity to donate any items you haven't used for an extended period. Military families don't spring clean; we PCS clean! Label the boxes with the items inside and drop off location at the new house. (i.e. "Christmas Decor- Storage Room" or "Books and Awards-Office") Stack your boxes in your dedicated space as you go.

GETTING TO YOUR NEW DUTY STATION

You have a few options here and can decide what works best for your situation. Some families choose to use a service like U-Pack and have their HHG shipped for them. This is a great option! If you want to haul the load yourself, Penske and U-Haul offer military discounts. We suggest renting a dolly and some moving blankets with your truck. Your larger furniture items are better off covered, and the dolly is a life saver. You can also elect to tow your car behind the truck. The inside of the car being towed doubles as storage and can be packed with last-minute boxes, suitcases or even houseplants.

LOADING DAY FOR YOUR DITY MOVE

Have your boxes neatly organized in the garage so you can back the POD or moving truck right up to it. It won't take much time to load with everything organized and a few feet away. Ask your friends for a solid 3 hours of their time to help lift and load. After the truck is packed, feed them as a thank you like you would the military movers. Also, make sure to put a good lock on the back of the truck to prevent anyone from breaking in. It is sad to say, but a packed truck is sometimes too tempting for some.

TRAVEL SMART

The truck is loaded, the house is cleaned, and all things not in the truck are packed into the car being towed, or a secondary vehicle. If you are as OCD as we are, you have mapped out your route to be a door to door military move!

Things to consider when traveling include: the speed governor on many moving trucks doesn't allow the truck to travel much over 60 mph, so it'll be a nice steady drive. Traveling with kids can be a challenge so make sure to find the local Chick Fil A's with indoor playgrounds. Stop at parks along the way for some much needed time outside of the car. If it's an option along your route, hotels on military bases add extra security which is a consideration since your entire life is in the moving truck. Many hotel chains offer military discounts and pets stay for free at La Quinta. Don't forget that kids eat free at many places. Sure, you get a daily per diem, but free is free!

UNLOAD AND RELAX!

You've traveled smart and have arrived at your new duty station! Since you probably don't know a ton of people yet, you could look into hiring some hourly movers to help unload. Maybe you'll end up with neighbors who come over and offer to help with the heavy furniture like we did! Your boxes are clearly labeled with where to put them, so it'll be easy to offload. Now you can unpack at your speed and not have to worry about what is missing or broken.

FILE AWAY ALL RECEIPTS

All branches, except the Navy, are encouraged to use the Government Travel Card for PCS expenses. We recommend still filing away the receipts for proof of purchase or in case of any discrepancies with finance or transportation. If you have a service member like mine, an After Action Report (AAR) will be in order to see how we can do better and maximize our money next time.

TREAT YO SELF!

Once you get the reimbursement for the move and per diem, do something fun as a family as a reward. Military moving is hard work, and you deserve to celebrate your accomplishment. Put some money in savings or maybe replace the one item that you broke along the way. The sky is the limit with your extra cash!

Moving your entire home by yourself is not easy, but you CAN do it. If you love to control every aspect of everything, like me, you might even enjoy the process!

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lauren Matia Deal

7 airplane travel hacks with kids

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Yeah! You got orders to (insert foreign country overseas)! You can already picture your kids in the international school, speaking with cute little accents and wearing local garments. Adorbs. You've got your housing picked out, adventures planned and passport photos taken. You're ready for your epic move ... except for that 13 hour plane ride. Have you wrapped your head around that yet? Before you grab for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, use our travel hacks to help make the emotional turbulence you're experiencing a little lighter.

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We've all said it: "We'll drive. It won't be that bad." We picture the adventure, the memories, the nostalgia of car trips when we were younger.

But if we're really being honest with ourselves, think back to those car trips. Someone was crying. Someone was puking. Someone was whining. That person very well may have been your poor mother. True story, my mom once got out and walked along the highway when all six of us kids wouldn't stop fighting. A long car trip can be daunting, but with our tips and tricks they don't need to be.

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Nordwood theme, Unsplash

WE ALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF HORROR STORIES WHEN IT COMES TO MILITARY MOVING!

Name the most disgusting item erroneously packed by your movers… for me it was used coffee grounds and of course, trash. For others, I've heard everything from wet towels to dirty diapers. I've caught movers raiding my fridge, lounging on my mattress in my front yard, and throwing out items that they've broken. Raise your hand (or have a drink) if you ever had packers show up late (or not at all). Ever had packers get into a shouting match among themselves as they were packing your china? Or have you caught your movers throwing boxes down the stairs to the basement? That would be me!

LESSONS LEARNED

With each military move, there are "lessons learned". For instance, I won't go into great detail but let's just say after watching one packer go directly from using the restroom back to packing my kitchen without washing his hands, we now use gigantic ziplock bags to "pre-pack" all my kitchen utensils. A packers' bare flesh has never again touched one of my kitchen utensils.

My family's last military move was by far the shortest, only 1½ miles up the road. We were moving from a rental to a home we purchased. It was by far the worst in terms of damage and overall angst. I think because we were only "moving up the road" the pack job left a lot to be desired. I found one box of dishes which had not one piece of wrapping paper! Instead two throw pillows from my family room were used as a buffer! Amazingly, nothing was broken! Go figure!

When I heard glass shatter in the moving truck, I asked one of the guys what shattered.

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There are any number of reasons why in a given situation renting might be better than buying or vice versa. For military families, it might make more sense to buy at one duty station and then rent at the next. Up for consideration with each PCS is whether to buy or rent, to stay on-base or off. In making these decisions, there are numerous pros and cons to consider.

PROS TO BUYING

  • Purchasing the right home can be a great financial investment that can grow in value over time.
  • Tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property taxes can greatly reduce your overall income tax burden if you itemize.
  • Being a homeowner can give you pride of ownership and a sense of stability, rare in the military life which can seem nomadic at times.
  • A mortgage payment that is lower than your BAH can result in a boost to your savings.
  • You can decorate however you want! Goodbye white walls! Hello, Color!
  • Anyone can stay with you at any time. So it is not a problem when your Mom or sister comes for an extended stay during a deployment or following a PCS.
  • You can do (almost) whatever you want….host a late night party, plant a garden, knock a wall down!
  • There are no security or pet deposits when you buy a home.
  • You have the opportunity to become a landlord when military orders arrive and you have to move. Your home can become an investment property, providing a source of income which can partially or totally offset your mortgage, taxes, and insurance payments.
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While retired military Space A travel is a privilege, there are some retirees that do not have this privilege. There are different categories of retirees, some are eligible for Space A and some are not. But there are efforts to change the eligibility requirements.

For a retiree to be eligible for Space A travel they must possess a 'Blue' DD Form 2 (Military ID card). This includes those that are medically retired. Their dependents are also allowed to travel with them and must bring along their ID cards. All dependents should be enrolled in DEERS.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR RETIRED MILITARY SPACE A TRAVEL?

There are plenty of rumors out there saying that ALL retirees are eligible. This is not true. If you are 100% disabled and you only possess a DD Form 1173, or the new DD Form 2765 ID cards, you are not entitled to travel on Space A. Also, if you possess the brown ID card with DAVPRM (Disabled Veteran Permanent) in the bottom right, then you too are not entitled to retired military space a travel Space A travel privileges.

Dependents of retirees are not allowed to travel without the retiree. If the retiree dies, then the dependents no longer have Space A privileges.

If you are a member of the Guard or Reserves with a 'Red" DD Form 2 you can travel through CONUS (Continental United States), to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. Also, if you are active duty for more than 30 consecutive days, Guardsmen and Reservists may fly anywhere that Space A flies.

Dependents of the Guard and Reserves are not authorized to fly on Space A until the member reaches the age of 60. At that time, they will be in the same category as a regular retiree, Category 6. Retired Guardsmen and Reservists who have completed their 20 years but are not old enough to collect their retired pay are considered to be in a "gray area".

AN ACT OF CONGRESS

There have been attempts to change the eligibility of all of the above retirees and dependents.

The first Bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives was House Bill 4164 aka Space-Available Act of 2012. This bill sought to authorize the Secretary of Defense to establish a program to provide transportation on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft on a space-available basis for (1) active duty and reserve members holding a valid Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card; (2) retired members who, but for not attaining age 60, would be eligible for military retired pay; (3) an un-remarried widow or widower of an active or reserve member; and (3) certain dependents of members described above. Allows the Secretary to establish an order of priority based on considerations of military needs and readiness.

This Bill was sent to the Subcommittee on Readiness in March of 2012 where it has sat with no action.

Earlier this year, a measure to establish a space-available transportation priority for veterans of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected, permanent disability rated as total was introduced in the house. That bill HR 936 was referred to the House Subcommittee on Readiness.

HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD

How can you help? Write your Congressman. Make your voice known.

The Gray Area Retirees Facebook group was created to talk about these problems and to try to get the changes implemented.

Space-A eligibility is sometimes confusing and false information is passed around often. Check out the resources in this article for any updates.

PCSgrades.com is a review platform for military and veteran families. Leave a review of your prior duty station and read the reviews of where you are PCSing to. Home is where the military sends us and together we can make a difference!

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.