29 November 2012

Orders aka Magic Papers

Last we spoke about our future Japan adventures, we had 125 days left in the United States.  As of this posting? 77 days. 77 days left in OUR OWN COUNTRY!!!

This can be summed up in one phrase.

Holy Fuck.

It's happening.  It's really happening.  And I'll tell you what's been happening.

After a few weeks of waiting for return phone calls and emails from various staff at various Air Force departments at various Air Force locations, we both completed the necessary various requirements to send in and then patiently wait for various approvals and actual real live orders.  You see, in the military, you are informed (or not informed) of information first.  This is your unofficial-official notification of assignment.  In our case, we were told in March of 2012 that Aaron was assigned to Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan.  Then a few weeks later Aaron received his RIP1.  This is sort of the first non-official official piece of paper (e-mail) that we get telling us him (at this point, dependents are not yet authorized to go) where and when he is going.

On the RIP, instructions are usually given to go find 'the checklist', contact so-and-so, briefings he needs to receive in order to obtain his orders and entitlements.  This is always a weird time, especially for us because we knew nearly 10 months in advance what his RNLTDwas.  Oh yeah, and during all this, Aaron was assigned a 5 month TDY3 a few hours south (still in good ole Ok-lahoma), and we decided we could be making saving an awesome amount of money if we left our house, put all of our belongings in storage, and I move down with him into a furnished apartment.  So anyway, Aaron started his 5 month initial qualification, I tried to get as settled as possible in a furnished apartment with minimal belongings and no friends (yet), and we both started to plug away at things on the checklist.  Things like: more checklists, more briefings, medical clearance for both of us (does the receiving base have the capabilities of taking care of our needs?), dental clearance (another appointment - does my dentist foresee any major issues while we are in Japan?), etc.  Oh yeah, I also tried (er...am trying) not to go crazy living FARTHER in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma and not having complete control of our moving-across-the-world-planning.

Okay.  So following a checklist seems all easy and fine and dandy and all, so we completed everything just to be told that certain items cannot be completed until 'x' amount of months prior to arriving in Japan.  And the poor cat went through so much trauma to get her all approved to enter another country - that deserves it's own post though.  Let's just say, she has more paperwork than we do.  Making ourselves another checklist full of dates and appointments again, we finally submit everything and receive our orders.

*A Big Sigh*

We received our orders.  Aaron's 3 year tour is accompanied4.  That's definitely something important us spouses want to see on there.  See:

Orders. Check.
Flights to Japan with cat booked. Check
HHG and UB5 shipments booked. Check.
Housing application submitted.  Check.

Oh, and we just received an email from a guy named Aaron who volunteered to be our sponsor! 
Sponsor. Check.

So like I said....moving right along.

Report on Individual Person.  A document with important information on a specific person.

Report No Later Than Date.  Report early, report on time, but do NOT report later than this date.

Temporary Duty.  This is duty assigned somewhere other than the members permanent duty station.  It could be for a variety of time, anywhere from a few days to a few months, and your TDY station could be anywhere in the world.  One thing sort of awesome about TDY's is that they come with per diem pay to cover lodging, meals, and incidentals.  Depending on requirements and how the member handles his tour...you could make some cash monies.

4Accompanied Tour
Command Sponsored.  This means that the military approves you (the dependant/s) to tag along and you and your spouse receive all the benefits of an accompanied tour.  There are many reasons why the military would not want the spouse to go: unsafe, expensive, base not being able to accommodate special needs, etc. WITHOUT your name on the orders, you could potentially go anyway but you might only be able to stay for short amounts of time on a visa from the host country, you won't be able to use overseas medical services, they will not pay to move you and your belongings, you cannot live on base and the military member will not receive any additional funds for you.  Basically, the military won't acknowledge you.  So MAKE SURE YOU'RE ON YOUR SPOUSES ORDERS...or atleast understand why you aren't.

Unaccompanied Baggage.  This is a shipment sent separately from your HHG.  Going overseas, your HHG's are crated and sent over via boat, and could possibly take months to arrive.  Your unaccompanied Baggage is a limited weight of your essentials that you would like to arrive earlier.  UB is sent by plane, usually a few weeks before your HHG's arrive.  Sometimes they come after, but that's just the nature of the beast. Things suggested to include in your UB are extra cloths, pots/pans, linens, etc...  Something good to keep in mind is that during a PCS or TDY you are authorized to use the loan locker, borrowing anything you might need until your shipments arrive.

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  1. Oh dear lord. I just got twitchy over that accompanied/unaccompanied thing - even seeing that you are for sure going with him. I'd have eaten all my hair by now if I was living your life.

  2. Oh god, I got all twitchy when you mentioned eating all your hair! Have we discussed this before, are you really a hair eater? If you are, I'm sure I don't remember because hair in my mouth is my worst nightmare and I blocked it out.

    A benefit of never being married: never having to stress about being accompanied/unaccompanied. Bet you didn't think of that before.