Friday, April 8, 2011

Some military history and the first step toward our move

Some background for folks not familiar with our military situation.  When my husband was in medical school he joined the Navy through a program called HPSP (health professions scholarship program).  This paid for his medical school, covered most if not all of his books and supplies, and also paid him a stipend.  In return he had to do 6 weeks each year he was in medical school and then he was obligated to repay 1 year for each year they paid for.

Instead of just doing the single match day to find out what residency program he would be into, he first went through the military match process.  So, about mid December of his 4th year of med school, we sat anxiously around the computer waiting for the match results.  The options were he could do a military residency, he could do a military intern year and then a civilian residency (which would have meant he likely would have done his 4 required years after the intern year), or he could get a full deferment to do his residency in the civilian sector.  Vinny really wanted to do his residency at Brown in Rhode Island, so we were ecstatic when he got the full deferment.  Then we also had to do the civilian match day with the rest of the medical students in March.  And, you might guess since we're now in Rhode Island that he got his first choice. :)

Fast forward a few years, Vinny is now finishing his residency at Brown, and getting ready to go on to active duty with the Navy.  A frequent question we get is whether he had any choice in where we were placed and the answer is yes.  The detailer (the guy who decides where everyone goes) sent us a big list of all the possible places that would need radiologists, and we submitted our top 3.  We thought that it would be most likely that we would be placed at one of the 3 big naval hospitals, San Diego, Portsmouth VA, or Bethesda.  We were very excited when the possibility list included 2 Marine bases in North Carolina, where I'm originally from.  (I didn't know this, but apparently Marine and Navy are kind of 2 divisions of the same branch.  Marines don't have medical officers from what I can tell, so the Marine medical needs are covered by Navy doctors)

We finally heard from the detailer that we would most likely be going to Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  Notice I said 'most likely.'  Apparently with all of the hub-bub going on in Congress and the budget being up in the air, orders were put on hold for a while.  We were very nervous there for a bit wondering what would happen if we couldn't receive our orders.  We already had a week off planning to go house hunting, so we took a leap of faith and decided to go house hunting in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas hoping that orders would come through.  While we were there one of the military spouses we met mentioned that her husband's orders had come through the day before, so when we got back to the house that afternoon, Vinny emailed the detailer to ask if his orders were out.  Turns out they had been released almost 2 weeks earlier, and they just didn't send out a notification or anything.  So Vinny finally figured out how to get logged on to the right website and found out that (WHEW) we were officially being stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Now, we just have to figure out all the logistics of getting moved down there.  I figured I would detail out what we do in case it's helpful for someone else later.  I went down to the base at Newport armed with his orders, our marriage license, 4 forms of ID (overkill I know), a notorized letter from him giving me permission to do this stuff, Bella's birth certificate, and a bunch of snacks to try to keep Bella occupied.  Most of the stuff I did yesterday I think I could have done on the website, but I had tons of questions as I filled out the forms, so I'm glad I was there in person.  The people there were very nice and helpful, and Bella was amazing and sat so nicely while I did all the forms.  It helped that she had her ipod touch with a movie on it.

So we found out how much weight we're allowed to move (14,500 lbs).  I used a spreadsheet they had on website to estimate how much we have...and we're going to be lucky to be under that weight.  Anything over that we basically get charged a dollar a pound...eek!  So I'm much more motivated to start cleaning out the basement.  We are given a 10% weight allowance for packing materials that the moving company might use, and anything Vinny uses for his job, books, diplomas, etc. doesn't count against our weight limit, but has to be set aside and packed separately.  It's going to be a very complicated pack out.  They suggest that you make a very detailed inventory of everything they pack in case something gets lost, and it's a bit overwhelming how much STUFF we have.  I'm going to have to start piles for donation, things to go in my car, things to go in Vinny's car, professional gear and then everything else gets packed up.  Sheesh...I'm tired already.

The process of packing (with a regular carrier that the military assigns to the move and pays directly) should take about 3 days and then it will take about a week for it to be delivered to the new house.  We're also allowed 3 days of travel to drive down, and if we need it, up to 10 days to stay in a hotel while we wait on the arrival of our things.  There is also a displacement allowance that will help up with putting down deposits.  We could request an advance of that displacement allowance, but it will be easier to get it when we request the other things, so we're going to try to make it through with savings.

The next step is to get Bella and I added as Vinny's dependents, get ID cards, and vehicle stickers, and to attend a class about doing a military move for first timers.  And Vinny has to go to Boston to do a medical evaluation and get the forms for all the travel reimbursements. We couldn't do the dependent stuff while we were down there already because I didn't have an official power of attorney. So we're going to do that too.

I feel like we've accomplished something at least now, so the new focus is on cleaning out the house of stuff we don't need and getting it SOLD!  Wish us luck!

Any advice on the best way to do an inventory or tips for moving?

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