Should I Move My High Schooler? (Ask Molly)

A reader writes:

I have been married to my husband for 8 yrs (I am 34 he is 36) and we have a 14 yr old daughter. He had been listed in the Reserves & completed that obligation before we were married but now has decided to go full time duty in the Army. I must say at first I went thru all the emotions of being angry & sad at the thought of him going to Iraq and dying there. I must say, with the words of support from this site I am really trying to not let the death consume my thoughts because death is promised to everyone & no one can avoid it. (But it’s so hard– I keep thinking death could come much sooner b/c of the choice to go into the military) but anyway…. I plan on giving my husband full support with his decision but I have NO clue on what to expect as an Army wife. Past posts suggest other wives may not want to move b/c of a career decision-in my case it’s the opposite. I have been laid off now for almost a year so my job isn’t an issue. The only issue I am having is that our daughter will be in the 10th grade this September and my assumption w/ the Army is that you move from place to place & don’t know how that would affect her (she doesn’t know he is going to enlist yet) My biggest fear is that we won’t be allowed to go w/ him & that we will be apart. Can you please give me some idea of what could happen to newly enlisted private who has a wife and child? Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated & thank you for having this informative site-it means so much!

Bless you all!

Dear Friend,

First, thank you to your husband for his service in the Reserves.

My children are almost four and two, so hopefully other readers with teens will add their thoughts.

Although my children are very young, I have taught high school.  So, I understand how important “senior year” is to many students.

First, there are a lot of details I do not know and I am not a recruiter.  Your husband needs to speak with his recruiter about his enlistment.  If he has college credits or gets any credit for prior service, that may affect what happens.

I’m going to reply under the assumption that he will need to go to Basic training and then AIT.

My understanding is that enlisted men are usually given a choice to influence either their MOS (their job) or their post.  If he chooses to request certain postings, then you may have a better idea of where you would be moving if you choose to accompany him.

You will not be able to see him during Basic training and will not be able to see him very much, if at all, during AIT. 

Once he completes AIT, he will receive his first “Permanent Change of Station” (PCS).  Most PCS moves are accompanied, which means you will be on his orders.  You will have the option at most places of living on post or off-post, this will vary depending on availability of housing at the post.  If you officially choose to stay where you currently live, your husband will most likely be assigned to barracks housing.  This may also have a financial impact as you will be maintaining your civilian housing but he will not have the housing allowance he would ordinarily draw if he lives off post with you.

Some assignments are unaccompanied tours (primarily at this point these are tours in Korea).  Most likely, however, unless he requests otherwise, his first PCS will be an accompanied tour and you and your daughter are welcome to join him.

When he deploys, of course, you would not be accompanying him.  It is impossible for me to say when, if at all, he will deploy during his active duty service.  It could be as soon as he arrives at his first post or it could be years before he deploys.  Once you have more information about his assignment, you can try to find out some information but be aware this could change at any time.

If your daughter was in 9th grade, I would suggest moving.  If she was in 12th grade, I would suggest staying put.  Since she’s in between, I think a lot depends on your wishes, her input, and the options available to your family.  Some teens who are very happy where they are choose to live with relatives or friends during their final years of high school.  Since your daughter will have two and a half years left of high school, you might not feel comfortable with this.

Although “your mileage may vary”, there is a good chance that your husband will be at the same post for at least the next three years, possibly more.  Therefore, it is likely that your daughter will be able to attend most of her time in high school at the same place.  If, for whatever reason, you do need to move to another post before she graduates, you can feel somewhat comforted by the fact that many other teenagers at her school will be in the same situation.  Near a large military base it is likely they have also moved at some point in their lives and will be sympathetic.

One of the hardest things about the military for the family is the uncertainty.  I can’t tell you whether your husband will stay at his first PCS for three years without deploying or if he will deploy immediately following AIT.  So, I cannot really advise you to move or stay put.

Right now, just focus on supporting him through his training.  Wait until you know his first post and his unit.  And then  you will need to weigh the pros and cons.  There are just too many variables undecided right now.

My gut feeling  is that it is easier to support your soldier if you will be near him. 

“Ask Molly” represents only my opinion and the comments of readers represent their opinions. I draw upon my training as a Family Readiness Group leader, my own experience and that of those I know, and any research I found on the Internet. I am not a trained counselor.

Photo Credit: Laura K. Gibbs

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  1. SSG D says:

    Alrite. Lots of confusion and anticipation, anxiety, and basically every other emotion contained in one short period of time. This is normal getting ready to commit to an active duty contract. Your daughter will be able to go to school either on post or within the local community. The children there are all used to constant change, and are generally accepting of it. Most kids do very well in military families. I generally see them having better prosocial behavioral skills being they are frequently adapting to new sets of friends and schools. Any other issues relating to that Im sure will not be too tough on her. The military family is vast and always welcomes new members. Other benefits to you. Schools on military installations are almost always looking for new teachers, due to the fact that a lot of the teachers are spouses they have a high turnover rate. So perhaps your layoff may not last as long. Also most installation scholastic sports have midseason joining and or tryouts due to the fact that most students pcs at times that students are in the sports seasons. To do this find the school on your installation, they’ll probably have a website, and she could even meet a “sponsor” now via email, and other things the children use, to help ease her transition. So good to see you’re taking this seriously and with an open mind. Hopefully I’ve given you some info you could use to help you out.

    SSG D

  2. Jenny Dee says:

    There’s so many tough decision to think through on this one. One resource that helped me answers my moving questions was Housing1Source. Maybe check them out and see if they can help you? Good luck with the decisions you are facing!