Waiting for Orders

Here at Marrying the Army I make it part of my mission and my promise to my readers that I’ll embrace life as an Army spouse. Sometimes that’s easy to do, but sometimes it’s not.

I’m going through one of those times when embracing the Army lifestyle is a bigger challenge for me than normal. I’ve held myself together through the end of the pregnancy and our baby’s birth, but yesterday I finally melted down. In a German grocery store parking lot. I cried a bunch, and I may have dropped an f-bomb in front of my mom.

No matter how much I embrace it, the truth is that Army life is not without its meltdown moments. Strength and resilience are musts, but every now and then, so is a good cry in the grocery store parking lot.

Why did I melt down?

We have a two week old baby, and today’s my first day on my own after my husband’s paternity leave. We’ll be PCSing again soon after less than a year in Wiesbaden, and Army bureaucracy has made acquiring our official orders for that PCS into something of a nightmare.

My husband began processing our request for orders (RFO) in late December, and we still don’t have orders in hand. For a number of reasons, mostly minutia, the RFO has been pushed back to use ten times.


The tenth rejection took place the same day I called Nick at work to tell him I was in labor with our daughter. I begged him to take me to the orders people to talk to them myself that afternoon, envisioning myself at 41 weeks, contracting every 4 or so minutes, striking fear into the hearts of the paperwork people. He took me to the hospital instead. My water broke 30 minutes later.

Bah. If I weren’t breastfeeding, I might take up whiskey drinking.

Life is on hold (as it so often is in the military). We don’t know yet when we’ll be allowed to relocate, although we do know that Nick will need to have a presence in the new duty station beginning in less than a month.

The Army’s policies prevent families from PCSing more than once every 12 months. As a result, it’s likely that this policy — which is designed to protect families — will actually separate us for several weeks while he reports to the new station in early April and Baby Shaw, the dog and I wait for the 12-month mark in May to be able to join him at the new post.

Then again, it’s possible that by some miracle, we’ll be able to PCS together as a family. We’ll find out when the orders are cut.

Wish us luck…

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  1. So stressful! I’ve cried at the grocery store, too. Hang in there! I hope it will all be over and you’ll all be settled together soon.

  2. Ugh – so sorry. Like Janet, I’ve had grocery store meltdowns, too. Deep breaths!

  3. Oh no!!! So stressful!!! When we went to flight school it was a huge mess, as the National Guard doesn’t cut orders until a week before the report date (meaning if you want to PCS with your soldier and not come later on your own — you have to do a DITY, bc there’s not enough time to schedule the Army to move you). Hang in there… and cry (and swear) as much as you need to! It’s warranted 🙂 Praying you guys get to PCS together!!!

    • Oh man: a week before? That’s rough. Thanks for the prayers -we got our orders! And as long as housing works out we get to PCS together. I’m so relieved! We’ve already started searching for a place to live. Hopefully it’s all going to work out.

  4. Ugh I so understand that feeling. It’s such a big suck to sit around in wait, and really there’s no reason for it if they unite where they want you to go. Just tell me already and end the suspense! Hang in there!

    • Yes! The waiting is the worst, even if you’d think we’d be used to it by now. Thankfully, we now have orders, and as long as we can find housing by our report date, we can move at the same time. 🙂

  5. Ugh, so many changes in such a short period of time. Deployment, and you alone, moving to Germany, having a baby, and now moving again. Just the hormone flow alone is enough reason for the meltdown, but add all those other ingredients and there you go. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You have every right to want answers and be able to manage your life. Your a strong girl, and you have your little darling now, so you won’t be alone. Hopefully, you can go together, yeah, let’s wish big and go with that until you know different. Thinking of you……..{{{big hug}}}

    • Sue, you’re always so encouraging. Thanks for commenting. As it turns out, I really, really needed a long nap. After that, I felt so much better, AND our orders came through not long after I published this. Hooray!

  6. 10 times?! That might not be the record, but it’s got to be close. That sounds super frustrating, especially if it could eventually mean that y’all will be separated. I’ve got my fingers crossed oh-so-tightly that things come together and it doesn’t get to that point!

    • Oh Amy, it gets better! We finally got the orders & then we got an automated (and incorrect) notice that our move was no longer approved as accompanied, but that they’ll pay for a compassionate reassignment. That incorrect notice technically voids the orders we finally received. And to keep it more interesting, the PCS date is less than 3 weeks away. Crazy!!

  7. I’m so sorry you had to go through that stress, but I’m proud of you that you were able to write down your frustrations! You’re discovering the military bureaucracy that’s full of catch-22s. Everywhere I’ve lived in the last 22 years has been a bit different in how things are managed for those moving in or out of that duty station. At least if you guys are on a late spring/early summer rotation now, you may have an easier time in the future with orders and moving. Temporary base lodging and flights will hopefully be easier to get (more options) because you may not be in the crowded time period (June – Aug). FYI: try to avoid moves around August and during the 1st quarter of a fiscal year. Usually orders are on shorter time frames because they can’t be released until there’s money in the bank and continuing resolutions usually get hung up through 1st and into the 2nd quarters. It’s too stressful for families during this time any way (we moved during the holiday season… I would never wish this upon my worst enemy if I had one).

    I will admit though that getting hubby’s RFOs was not fun for us because of budgeting issues in FY11 (no money at the beginning, which is typical). They needed my retirement orders from the Navy in October and the Navy wasn’t going to give them to me until 6 weeks before I was supposed to retire the following March… until I told them that I needed them in order to be considered for accompanied Army orders on an overseas move and that I wasn’t using my retirement benefit for one last move since the Navy wouldn’t have to pay (responsible taxpayer that I am). I truly believe that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. However, there are always exceptions and certain units within our military community seem to bleed vinegar…

  8. Lol…that wasn’t the first f-bomb that I’ve heard! So glad that you let some of that frustration out that day, and that your orders finally did come through! Can’t wait to hear that you’re all settled in your new place, and that you and Baby Shaw are working well in your new office, and taking lots of walks/runs together!

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