Career military members and their families accept the frequent re-locations that are common for those who choose to serve. Mostly positive, each move provides the opportunity to meet new people, see exciting places and taste different foods.
Join me as I recount and dissect one of our Permanent Change of Station moves.
It always starts with orders – of course. In this case, my husband received notification of a PCS to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Not bad! Three years in the land of castles and Christmas markets – not to mention German chocolate and Lebkuchen.
An appointment with the origin Transportation Office is the first point of duty once orders are received. With multiple copies of orders in hand, my husband attended his appointment and elected to have the government undertake the shipping of our goods. Members can elect to make their own arrangements and receive monetary compensation.
My husband was asked to estimate the total weight of our household goods, allowing an approximate weight of 1000 pounds per room. Maximum weight is determined by rank and dependency status: Is the member married with children, or not.
A Visit from the Estimator:
Afterwards, a stranger from the origin Transportation Office came to our home and walked from room-to-room. With a practiced eye, he looked over all of our worldly possessions and asked pertinent questions.
The purpose of the visit was to assess the amount and the extent of the wrapping and packing that would be required. He departed with the promise to telephone with a date and time for packing and pick-up. Packing and pick-up can usually be done on the same day, depending on the amount of household goods. For some people, however, the process can involve multiple days.
Packing and Pick-up:
On the day of packing and pick-up, the men from the authorized commercial transport company arrived. The three guys were eager, cheerful and courteous, but my heart fell. Their combined ages struggled to reach three scores.
They are schoolboys, I thought: There go my crystal glasses and China dinnerware. The guys proved me wrong. They packed with professionalism, care and expertise. As each box was filled and taped-up, its contents were written on the outside. Everything was noted on the descriptive inventory sheets, which required my signature on each page.
By day’s end, practically everything we owned was wrapped, boxed and sealed in containers on the removal truck. Personal vehicles are always shipped separately.
Delivery of Household Goods:
Once household goods arrive at the follow-on base, service members may store their goods for up to 90 days. This allows time for house-hunting. Having found housing, we were excited to receive a delivery date.
Two burly German men broke open the crates and unpacked our furniture and many of the boxes. As required, I checked items off against the inventory forms. When they asked if “Frau” wanted them to empty the boxes marked “bedrooms”, I quickly replied: Yes, please, and then took my sons onto the patio.
They were finished in no time and came outside with more forms to be signed. I complied, and they departed. They must have been laughing as they drove away because, on entering the largest of the bedrooms, I encountered a towering mountain of clothing, shoes, handbags, bed linen and more, it was hideous. “Frau” was not amused! I learned a valuable lesson, however.
My husband and I eventually leveled the mountain, with numerous curses uttered in undertones: On his part – not mine – I hasten to add.
We spent three wonderful years in Germany, but all too soon it was time to leave. Our PCS back to England started with official orders – of course.