Transferring to the next chapter in one couple’s military life

Professional movers pack the Lally's household goods

KODIAK, Alaska – Professional movers do all of the heavy lifting during a Kodiak-based Coast Guard family’s move to their next duty station June 11, 2012. For families like the Lally’s, having professional movers help with their change of station eases stress during what could be a busy time. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally

Many cultures measure time in seasons rather than months or years. They remember what occurred many snows ago and new seasons give ways to new chapters in one’s life. This year, as the snows melt, a new chapter beings for my family. Old Man Winter has slipped away and the days are getting longer. It’s a time when Coast Guard families say their goodbyes to friends and co-workers, a time to sell items, clean house, pack up and move out…it’s transfer season.

Throughout the U.S. and the world military families go through familiar preparations to leave their current duty stations and begin the next chapter in their careers. The stressors of transferring come well before the movers bring in the boxes.

When I arrived in Alaska it was in December and I have seen three snows. Most members have an expectation of how long they’ll be at a unit, but it isn’t until near the end of the tour that they find out where they are headed next.

For my wife Halley and I the whole process of moving began the day I was given my orders to the 8th Coast Guard District in New Orleans. There was still snow on the ground when I received a call from my lieutenant letting me know she had my orders. I called my wife Halley.

New Orleans had not appeared on my list of preferred billets. The service takes into account the member’s wishes but they also consider the needs of the service, the best opportunities for the member to grow in their career and several other factors. Halley was disappointed at the news.

“The day Jonathan first called me to tell me he got orders to transfer to New Orleans for our next tour, I cried,” said Halley.

We are a very spiritual family and look to our faith for strength. I reminded Halley of this and she couldn’t remain upset.

“My mind was immediately filled with opportunities, possibilities for our family, hope and surprisingly…joy,” said Halley. “I was a little shocked to find that emotion in my heart in relation to the news of moving to New Orleans taking root in my mind.”

Regardless of where we were assigned it meant a lot of planning for us. We attended smart move workshops and worked closely with our support staff at the base to prepare for the move. Packing up our house, setting travel arrangements, shipping our car, making arrangements for housing in New Orleans and filling out stacks of paperwork are just some of the necessary steps we had to work through.

To add to the complexity of our first official military move together, we were blessed with our first child in January, Enoch. Packing for one may be easy, even packing for two, but add a baby and the volume of luggage seems to double.

“I didn’t really start to think about the move until just a couple months ago, when Jonathan texted me the countdown he had going,” said Halley. “From the day we got orders to the day I began to pack, I have stressed. I tend to procrastinate, about a lot of things. After this move, I have learned to never procrastinate again!”

Around 8:55 a.m. June 11 the sound of two red diesel box trucks echoed through our neighborhood. Our dog Erskine, a Jack Russell terrier mix, was the first to hear the movers at the door immediately ran to greet them.

The movers introduced themselves and went right to work. The team leader made a quick survey of the house to gauge what supplies to bring in and how to divide the team. In to the house came stacks of flat empty boxes, packing tape and paper.

The team worked quickly and efficiently to pack each room. My wife and I oversaw their efforts. Slowly the stacks of empty flat boxes became cubes stacked upon one another and the rooms that were full just moments ago became empty and open.

“Our team of movers was awesome,” said Halley. “The best part of this move was packing day, I actually had fun! It was tiring, being on my feet all day holding Enoch in our baby carrier, but it made the day better because he hardly cried at all.”

Halley went on later to say that where she was originally nervous about the packing process but the movers professionalism put her at ease. It can cause anxiety to be separated from what is familiar to us like a house or certain items we are used to having. Many military families also worry household goods may be damaged in the move.

“Having a team led by a man who was not only a former Navy member, but also had three years working for the moving company made my job easy” said Halley. “I just walked through the house and made comments as needed. I have so much peace that our household items will arrive in New Orleans still in great condition.”

Moving tends to be a double edged sword. On one side it is bitter and sad to leave behind a life, friends and a place you grow to know well. On the other side moving means change which means new challenges, new friends and new exciting experiences to enjoy.

The snows are gone and we are approaching the longest day of the year. Almost five months to the day after Enoch’s birth my family and I will fly off the island of Kodiak to New Orleans, a completely different world. Halley and I are looking forward to this next chapter in our military life together and seeing where it will take us.

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