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Ask VMW: I didn't account for this long overseas hotel stay before we get housing, help!

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Ask VMW: I didn't account for this long overseas hotel stay before we get housing, help!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ask VMW: I didn't account for this long overseas hotel stay before we get housing, help!

Sometimes there is a reason why soldiers get deferments on having their families join them overseas initially.  This just means that the servicemember goes overseas first and then his family joins him once he gets housing.  I received a question the other day regarding the long hotel stay in Germany and the isolation being felt as a newcomer.

"We have been over here for a month in the hotel and were told that it could be another 1-2 months before housing has an opening. Also that since my DH is enlisted we cannot live off post. About a year ago it changed is what we were told. So since there isn't any on-post housing available and we aren't "allowed" to live off post, we are stuck in the hotel. Do you know anything about the housing situation?  Is this normal?  I feel isolated and do you have any advice on where I can go with my baby to connect with other wives?  No one has welcomed me either from our Family Readiness Group.  Please help."

You are absolutely correct.  We were still in Germany when this policy came into effect of not allowing E-5s (Sergeants) and below to live off-post.  This is why orders are automatically deferred to assignments in Germany for the most you see why this can be such a problem...being in a hotel months on end with family is not a fun deal.  Unfortunately, since you are already there, you may have to stay in the hotel for a bit longer.  But with that being said, here is what I would do in the same situation cause I would try my darndest to make lemonade out of those lemons I was dealt.

  • Contact the housing office and get a better idea of where you are on the waitlist.  A two month wait is not unusual.  We were in the hotel for five weeks, and we even had designated command quarters.  I have friends who waited two to three months, so this is absolutely in the normal range.  During the summer months, the wait could be even longer, especially now as they shift the officers off-post.  The reason being given is that they can afford the higher cost of off-post living (this article explains the new policy).  Officers are not being asked to move, it's just that enlisted personnel who are incoming will take that housing instead of another officer.  Obviously, there is much debate among servicemembers in Germany on whether this is right or wrong...there may be no one correct answer.

  • I would not have my DH go to his 1SG or commander unless the stress is starting to affect his working ability.  Most leaders don't know what their soldiers are doing in their home life and how things are going...but they should.  At one point, someone in the command should've sat down with the soldier, just to find out how inprocessing is going and how the adjustment is going...if not, he should ask to talk to his command...just don't whine.

  • Many posts have temporary housing when there is a long wait for regular housing...ask about that if you don't mind moving to looks just like the regular stairwell housing, may not be renovated yet, but everything is in there furniture-wise with loaner furniture.  You can get loaner dishes/cutlery, baby stuff like highchairs, etc from the lending closet at your on-post Army Community Service (ACS) or equivalent for free.

  • Speaking of ACS, you should go there and just see what programs they have.  They should have a lead into baby/mommy mornings...most ACSs have this...most also have a trip where they take you on the you how to use local transportation and a familiarization class off-post, even basic language and your DH can sign up together.  They may have other free programs as well....even job search assistance and resume classes.

  • See if there is a MOPS is religious based but non-denominational.  Check with your on post chapel to see if there is one there. This was a lifesaver for me, as it's a place for mommies and their little ones to get together....moms do fun things and crafts and eat while someone does fun stuff with the little gives moms a much needed break, and you will find more and more of these chapters overseas on military posts.

  • As for the Family Readiness Group, see if there is a monthly FRG meeting at your husband's unit.  There should be one.  It is mandated by Army regulations.  Both you and your husband should attend at least one (coerce him if you have's important for the both of you....many guys just don't like to go).  Many FRGs have welcome gifts and introduce new people.  Some FRGs are stronger than others.  It's a shame really, as it is a commander's program and the commander dictates how active/important this organization is.  We looked out for each other at every duty station I've been to and helped the new folks adjust.  Find out who the other wives are in your husband's squad and of them should be reaching out to you...and if not, get DH to get your contact info to the ladies or vice versa and just call one of them and ask to meet them at the foodcourt...say you are new.  Sometimes, you just have to take the initiative to get the floodgates open.  I know it's not easy, especially when you are new, but some wives have honestly forgotten how difficult it may have been for them when they arrived.  I know when things are rough, my brain sometimes tends to forget too.  Go into it, knowing you have done all you could to try to connect with others, and I know something will come out of your efforts!

  • Please continue to get support from your friends back home, your family and also the many wonderful Facebook pages and message boards online.  I have met a few of my readers in my travels, as well as here in Belgium, and I count many of them as my friends.  It's all about helping each other out and extending out that Army family.  My favorite saying that I wish the Army would adopt somehow is "Keep the family, then keep the soldier".  It is SO important these days that the Army realizes that if they don't care or provide for the needs of a soldier's family, he will eventually get out of the military, and the military will lose a valuable asset they might have kept had they done this in the first place.  Sorry to get on my high little vent in the big picture of things!  I'd like to welcome you to our Army family and feel free to stop back by and let us know how it is going if you like!

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    Blogger Damsel said...

    We PCS to Italy this summer. Having to wait forever for housing is my biggest fear!! Thanks for the ideas about how to get involved.

    April 24, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
    Blogger Lacey said...

    Thankfully this does not include Air Force bases, just Army. You had me freaking out a little bit at first. lol. For Air Force (at least for spang, and I assume the same for other bases) All airman E-3 and below with no families must live in the dorms. Any airman any rank with a family may live off base.

    April 24, 2011 at 4:09 PM  
    Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

    Yes, I should've mentioned that small fact! It doesn't depend what service you are...there are some purple communities overseas, meaning you have folks from all services stationed on that Army post, so conceivably, you could as AF have to follow that Army rule. Spangdahlem is an AFB, so whatever the AF rules are will be the norm...even if you are Army stationed there...I know it's confusing.

    Either way, just know before you go to better prepare yourself. Living on post overseas can be very nice...we did on our last duty assignment in Germany, and honestly, it was less stressful and just easier (and I speak German fluently too)! Look at both options and talk to people living in both situations after arrival to figure out what's best for your family, your military spouse's job, schools, etc...

    April 24, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
    Blogger Matt and Erin said...

    In the KMC (Kaiserslautern Military Community) that rule also does not apply (regardless of Army or AF), I think due to the huge numbers of families we have here. Just a heads up for anyone heading our way. :)

    April 24, 2011 at 7:05 PM  
    Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

    Isn't it interesting to see the Air Force doing something completely different on their air force bases in Germany, while the Army does the exact opposite when it comes to housing E-5 and below?...and the Army claiming they are "taking care of soldiers" from everything I have read. I know it has its pros and cons on both sides of the argument....interesting, huh?

    April 24, 2011 at 9:26 PM  
    Blogger Matt and Erin said...

    Well, maybe part of it for us here is that all the housing is on AF property the Army doesn't have much say? Dunno. I've seen some of the places that it's mandatory to live on post E6 and below....and it made me LOT more grateful that I have the opportunity to live off base and experience Germany at it's best.

    April 24, 2011 at 10:00 PM  
    Blogger Mary R. said...

    My husband has been retired for some time now (he was Army and then Air Force!) and it is interesting to read your blog to see how some things have changed and how some things stay the same.

    April 25, 2011 at 12:04 AM  
    Anonymous chaussures puma said...

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    April 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
    Blogger Creations By Trees said...

    We are at the Panzer Hotel right now and a few things I have noticed...there is no wireless internet and the wired internet is not that great. Not so family friendly, they say that you get a 1 bedroom with up to six people in your family and a 2 bedroom with 7 or more people...kinda cramped. There is a safe in the room which is nice :) There are motion detectors in your room so they know when you are in...i think they say its for changing the room temperature to save money when you are not there...who knows. Get the manual on how to work the microwave and helps.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Will me and our daughter eventually get to go live with my husband if he gets stationed in germany? Is that the only thing that may hold us back is the housing availability? im really nervous because we just had a newborn but we aren't sure where we will be stationed but they said it was a good possibility it will be germany and I just need to know if we will be able to go with him.

    August 5, 2011 at 6:17 AM  
    Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

    As long as your DH gets an accompanied assignment (family allowed; 3 year tours for Germany) AND you and your children pass the EFMP screening (search on my site about EFMP or google it), then yes, you can join him in Germany.

    August 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM  

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