Moving and deployment are two of the most stressful elements of military life, and Army wife Shandi Young tackled them simultaneously. While her husband was deployed to Qatar and Kuwait, Shandi made an international move from Germany to Washington State with three kids, a cat and a dog.
I can vouch that Shandi is no ordinary gal. One of my close friends, I was instantly drawn to her strength, fearlessness and ability to speak her mind. Those traits came in handy when she decided to pull off something most of us would never consider.
What Inspired the Move
Shandi and her family happily lived in Germany for five years. They enjoyed homes in both Heidelberg and Wiesbaden, and Shandi even welcomed their third child in a German hospital. She was comfortable navigating German stores and restaurants, attended fests, immersed herself in European nightlife, and traveled.
Shandi came to realize that no matter how special Europe was, things had changed. The drawback to living at a duty station for an extended period of time was that everyone eventually left. She said goodbye to friend after friend, and things started to lose their luster.
When her husband deployed, Shandi was entitled to free and discounted childcare, but felt a strong urge to return home. Although she had the opportunity to extend their stay in Germany (which I am still envious about), her desire to return to the States won out. She and the kids would reside in her home state of Washington, where they would be surrounded by friends and family.
Leading Up to the Move
Moving is a hassle even with a teammate, and this amazing milspouse accomplished all of this flying solo:
- Handled all paperwork and appointments (thankfully she had power of attorney)
- Purged the house of unwanted items
- Supervised the movers for three days
- Cleaned her vehicle for inspection and shipping
- Made her home spotless to clear housing
- Lived out of multiple suitcases in the Army Lodge
- Cared for and supported children going through a major life change
- Made an international flight as the sole adult
Did everything go off without a hitch? Unfortunately not. Thank goodness for coffee, friends and the USO!
Tschüß Germany, Hello USA
Moving day finally arrived. Shandi and crew drove an hour away to Ramstein AFB for their departing flight. So close to the finish line, they didn’t cross it without hiccups. Upon arriving, their cat escaped, but was quickly retrieved. Once they arrived at the terminal, they discovered a glitch in her pets’ paperwork (forms signed but not dated), and Shandi had to immediately contact her vet. That wasn’t the worst of it though.
Although her oldest daughter had a valid US passport, Shandi was informed that her child couldn’t board the plane without a military ID, as she was now 10 years old. Shandi was forced to scramble. At the last minute, she located the post ID office and miraculously scored an ID card for her child — power of attorney for the win! The good news is that they didn’t miss their flight, but that is partially because it was delayed by two hours…yikes!
After a long journey, Shandi’s family finally made it to BWI. The jet lagged travelers made it through customs and baggage claim, but because of the initial delay in Germany, they missed their connecting flight. She recalls, “The hardest part was navigating airports with three kids, two pet kennels and all our luggage!” Shandi was informed that they could fly out the following evening, nearly 12 hours later. Luckily for her, she found the USO, used the free WiFi, and reached me!
I was delighted to help a friend and fellow milspouse in need! At the airport, we packed my car like a game of Tetris, and our families enjoyed a surprise reunion and sleepover night. Although her kids had been awake for 24 hours, they still found energy to play with mine until late into the evening. We made memories out of a crazy situation that only military families can appreciate.
Home, Sweet US Home
Shandi survived the entire move, enrolled her children in school, found full-time employment and purchased a house — all while hubby was still deployed. Shandi shares, “Being home is wunderbar! Having family surround us, and grandpa living with me helping with the kids, is such a huge relief. I’ve been catching up with childhood friends, introducing the kids to their cousins, aunts and uncles. I love working outside of the house, and being new homeowners, I get to immerse myself in my passion of remodeling and decorating.”
Although it will be a while until she is reunited with her husband, she is ready to have him home. “I look forward to going on dates and reconnecting with my husband. It will be much-needed family time,” shares Shandi.
For anyone considering a similar move, Shandi recommends, “Cleaning a four-bedroom house to inspection level is not a one person job. Hire a cleaner — their work is guaranteed.” When I asked Shandi to reflect on the experience, she shared, “If I had to do it all over again…I wouldn’t. Ha!”
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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