By Allyson Miller

I am a Virgo who is married to a Logistics officer, so it should come as no surprise that we own a label maker, all of my spices are in alphabetical order and we have a moving checklist. Although we add to our checklist with each military move, somehow, we always end up forgetting something.

OOPS!

Halfway between Fort Lee and Fort Knox, I realized I had forgotten our son's medical records. I accidentally left my glasses prescription at Fort Leavenworth. And I can't tell you how many times we've ordered items from Amazon, only to have them ship to our old address.

There's a reason most civilians don't move every few years – it's a lot of work! Even if you remembered to pick up the kids' immunization and medical records, got the cat vaccinated, filled out the change of address form and made an inventory of your high-value items, did you retrieve everything you've loaned out? Check to make sure none of your credit cards will expire while you're traveling? Pick up all the dry cleaning?

DON'T CRY UNCLE!

I am currently one week out from the packers arriving and if it wasn't for the PCSgrades moving checklist, I probably would have thrown my hands in the air and gone out for margaritas.

Additionally, with every prior military move we've had at least 3 months between receiving our orders and moving. This time we had less than 30 days. So, when I saw the moving checklist, I printed it and immediately stuck it in my PCS binder.

After first glance, I felt a little faint as I realized we had bypassed most of the bold-faced categories: 3-6 months before your move, 2 months, 1 month. We were 3 weeks out and there were a lot of boxes to check off! It helped that this is a CONUS move, although we are literally moving from sea to shining sea.



USE A MOVING CHECKLIST

I had to start somewhere. So, I flipped to page one, 3-6 months before your move, and started working my way down. We didn't have 3-6 months, but if we were about to forget something, it was better to know now.

YA GOTTA LOVE MILITARY MOVING!

As it turned out, I had already done most of the 6 month, 3 month and 2 month tasks. But I always panic in the last few weeks. In the mad rush of picking up records, getting the oil changed and dropping off another pile of donations, I forget the other details. Put a checkbook in the PCS binder. Assemble the first night box so we aren't ripping into boxes in search of the paper towels. And now I'll download a Mover's Notice. This lets our moving company know up front we'll be reviewing their performance on PCSgrades after the move is complete.

The PCSgrades moving checklist addresses CONUS and OCONUS moves. Additionally, it is thorough without being overwhelming. It has helped keep me on track and calm. I know that if I feel like I'm forgetting something, I can just refer to the list. PCS moves are barely controlled chaos but at least now it's organized, barely controlled chaos. And that's good for everyone, even a Virgo and a Logistics Officer.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

pcs

By: D'antrese McNeil

It's the infamous PCS, and that means preparing your home for the movers to come and invade. I'm kidding! If you're not brave enough to tackle and conquer doing a DITY (Do It Yourself) move, (I am NOT btw) then the military will send one of their contracted companies your way for a full on military move.

I know for us, we've always provided some form of nutrition for our movers. The way we see it, if we take care of them, they take care of our stuff, right? I know, I know, that's not ALWAYS the case, but we'd rather play it safe. I crowd-sourced a few Facebook groups to see how others responded to this topic.

DO YOU OFFER LUNCH OR SNACKS TO YOUR MOVERS?

Dave Etter: "Yes, and I always insist on a group pose with the truck. Evidence."

Alexandra Eva: "I always buy whatever meals they are there for, snacks and bottled water. Last time I made cookies and they asked for the recipe…ha-ha tollhouse. Lol."

Cassandra Bratcher: "Gift cards to a local liquor store and snacks Nothing broke when it arrived lol."

Elizabeth Strong: "We pay for lunch and tip at the end"

Alaska Amber: "Always! Snacks, water, lunch, whatever they need. And I always end up giving them a bunch of stuff. Before we moved to Alaska, I gave them my bedroom set, dining table, a TV, and even a sewing machine for one of their wives. "

MORE THOUGHTS ON FEEDING MOVERS/PACKERS DURING A MILITARY MOVE

Anna Blanch Rabe: "We do water and Gatorade on ice for all the days and then depending on the crew lunch (usually Pizza) on the loading/unloading day. We have tipped when they've done an awesome job, and we've also sent them off with a case of beer on occasion."

Jenah Wieczorek: "We buy lunch, snacks, and drinks but not breakfast. I'm assuming they eat before they come."

Sybil Jones: "It depends on their attitude. I'm serious. One set of movers that packed us (this move) were great. I offered lunch and drinks and tipped at the end. Our long-term storage items. Attitude from the jump. They got nothing. The delivery on this end, same thing. They took more breaks and had a 'tude from jump street."

Elishaba George: "I've always waited to see how they are doing their job… no rewards for a bad job. I've experienced two bad packers in 8 moves."

Michelle Suk Richardson: "I buy lunch and provide a variety of drinks-water, Gatorade, and some granola bars."

THE VERDICT

As you can see, the responses are mixed. I know for us when we made a military move to Korea, I'd bought the movers snacks and water. I had asked beforehand if they wanted anything and they didn't take any of it. Yet, when we PCS'ed out of Korea, the Korean movers expected it. Luckily, we had already planned on buying their lunch and snacks. When we arrived back stateside, we bought our movers lunch and snacks and gave them a little booze too.

So, I vote YES, feed your movers. It may help with them protecting your items a little better or it may not, but it can't hurt. However, I also do like the notion of being cautious first, as one person noted. People have so many allergies these days, it's kind of hard to buy something or cook something without the risk of potentially killing them or giving them an allergic reaction. Noted. Use your best judgment. Go with your gut when it comes to preparing snacks for the movers. What are your thoughts?

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

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.

You have orders to Southeast Arizona! Living out west may be going home for you or, like many military families, it might be a brand new adventure. Living in a desert climate can be quite a different experience if you have never done it before. Knowledge of Arizona geography is usually limited to the Grand Canyon, Phoenix and maybe Tucson. In fact, if you have orders to Fort Huachuca (Sierra Vista), you might have to really search the map. Southeast of Tucson you say? Is there really something southeast of Tucson in the US? Sure enough, and it's called "High Desert" which is something you may not even know exists! We have put together some information we hope will help you learn more about this desert area you are about to call home!

IMPORTANT INFO

Snowbirds – Arizona has a huge retirement community. From military retirees to golfers, there is a definite influx of an older generation when the snow starts hitting the northern states. It isn't a huge deal as rush hour traffic isn't that bad to start with in most areas, with the exception of the Phoenix area. The real challenge is that the base pharmacies are not staffed for these military retirees, so starting in October there are generally longer lines. Oh, and for those who are looking for off-season tee times, that happens in July in Arizona.

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Maybe you've been able to avoid the assignment for several years, or have been dying to move to the area, but now the orders are official! If you are depending on a typical duty station experience, you may be disappointed. Most agree the National Capital Region is unlike any duty station you've had in the past.

Get ready to enjoy this unique experience full of history, politics, inside the beltway traditions and patriotism like you've never seen before! After you read the rundown of the Nation's Capital below, head to PCSgrades.com for neighborhood reviews with photos and maps to help you pick the perfect part of town for you.

WHERE IS THE PENTAGON?

While you may hear people say they are PCSing to Washington D.C. for an assignment at the Pentagon, this unique building is actually located across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. You've seen large bases and posts but when you park at the Pentagon, it gets tricky remembering your parking space among the 67 acres of parking lots, which accommodate over 8,700 vehicles.

The Pentagon itself is indeed impressive. This concrete structure featuring seven floors, two below ground and five above, is the largest office building in the world, covering 34 acres. It is double the size of the Empire State Building. Nearly 30,000 military and civilian employees share 691 water fountains and 284 bathrooms. There are no elevators in the Pentagon. Ramps accommodate those moving from floor to floor. Pentagon tours are offered which are always a hit with out of town guests.

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PCSing to coastal California is a dream assignment to some: beautiful weather, an abundance of things to see and do, and the Pacific ocean! And yes… there is also a higher cost of living than many areas you may have lived before. It means being stationed at the home of the 1st Marine Division, the oldest, largest and most decorated division in the United States Marine Corps. It's a large installation, spanning more than one county, and can be a different experience for many military families. So let's dive in and explore your new duty station, then head over to PCSgrades.com to for reviews for base housing, neighborhoods, and more!

WHERE IS CAMP PENDLETON

Camp Pendleton is nestled up against the Pacific Ocean, in between Los Angeles and San Diego, and sandwiched between Oceanside to the south, San Clemente to the north, and Fallbrook to the east. It boasts a coastal climate, with average low temps dipping into the 40s and highs reaching into the 80s.

Interstate 5 runs the entire length of Camp Pendleton against the Pacific, and Interstate 15 runs alongside the base to the east. I5 and I15 are connected south of the base by highways 76 and 78.

The Coaster is a commuter train that runs from Oceanside straight through San Diego and travels right next to the water. The Sprinter is a commuter train that runs from Oceanside inland to Escondido.

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