13 years ago when we became and Army family we had no idea what we were getting into. We had no idea what the military life entail, we only knew that we would be required to relocate our family and that was pretty much it.
Our first relocation was to Hawaii, who is not excited about Hawaii? Our second relocation was to Fort Campbell, KY. Just the idea of being back on the mainland and being able to drive to see family was enough to make our family more then excited to leave Hawaii. Then we were not given orders again for almost a decade.
Eight years later, and still stationed at Fort Campbell we were finally given the option to leave. Little did we know there was a mix up with paperwork which is what had kept us at Fort Campbell so long. We had gotten into our grove here. Watching others come and go, after about 5 years at the same location we had given up that it would ever be us.
While deployed in 2011 my husband called me with some news. We needed to turn in our “Wish List” of duty stations that we would like to move. I honestly had no idea what to think. We had talked a few times about where we would like to go, but never in detail. Now my husband was all the way around the world, with very little phone time, and internet that was less then reliable. We were supposed to make a decision that would change our lives forever without even really being able to discuss the options.
After much thought, we finally decided on our three locations, all of which had downfalls. There seemed to no “perfect” duty station, but is there ever really? One of our choices that we both made was back to Hawaii, the distance was a downfall. My choice was Virginia because it was as close as we could get to our families and my husband would be an instructor there which means he would not deploy. My husband however did not want to move there and was less then thrilled at my choice but agreed because it was what I wanted. His choice was Savannah. I was excited to move back there but I was not happy with the fact that the relocation would most likely come with another deployment. When your husband is home for 9 out of 38 months you would really like to have him home. Finding the “perfect place” seemed so out of reach. So, we waited. And we waited. And we waited. Calls weekly from family asking if we knew yet where we were moving. We watched and we waited as again, so many people we knew came down on orders and we did not. We started getting nervous because with the exception of a few people going to Virginia, everyone else seemed to be going to two locations, neither of which were on our list and neither of which we wanted to go.
Finally, my husband branch manager contacted my husbands unit and wanted to know why a guy that was in the process of being med boarded was deployed. That guy, my husband! 6 years ago my husband went to the med board, obviously they chose to keep him and he was released. He then reenlisted. Somehow that med board status was put back on his record after his reenlistment and that is why in 8 plus years we had never come down on orders. After a few things being sent, he was cleared and my husband called me with the news. We were on orders.
I held my breath worried about what he was going to say. Would we get orders to one of our choices or would they send us to one of the two places that it seemed everyone in our unit was going? It seemed like an hour passed (although it was really about 15 seconds) before he could get out the words “we are headed to Alabama”. Alabama was not on our list at all so it was quite a shock to me when a huge sense of calm came over me when he told me where we were headed. I was at peace. Much more then if we had gotten one of our three choices. My husband would be in a non deployable job, and we would get to move to a beautiful area. Wow. Wow was all I could say because I felt so at peace with the choice that had been made for us.
Because I am a planner, I immediately started researching the base. I wanted to be prepared with all of “the good stuff” before we told our children. I knew moving was going to be tough for them as three of them have never lived anywhere else, and our oldest was only half way through her sophomore year. We knew that breaking the news to them was not going to be easy. While they were prepared for a move, we had prepared them for the positives of the three locations we had chosen, not one that we had not.
I quickly started looking up schools, the base, the housing. I started finding places to go, and things that my children would like to do. We started talking about how nice it would be to move out of the area and get to do new things. After all we have lived in the same area for almost 9 years, change would be good.
I set up a plan for my children. We talked about their rooms and how they would like to decorate. I set aside money specifically for them to redo their rooms and we talked about how they could start fresh. New bedding, new decorations, new adventures.
Over spring break after much research we made a trip to our new duty station. We visited the schools (well the outside anyway the schools were on spring break as well) and we visited housing. We found all of the awesome new things about our new duty station and made sure to highlight all of them on our trip. Starting over does not have to be so bad after all.
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. While Fort Rucker may not have been our duty station of choice, it was where we were meant to be.
There are so many new adventures to be had, so many new places to visit. You find what is good at your new duty station and you focus on that. Life is an adventure not a destination.