For many spouses, we dread the detailing process. If you’re new around here, the “detailing process” begins when a sailor receives his or her orders and ends when they report to duty. Orders are arranged and received from a detailer. The “slate” provides a snapshot of available jobs and duty stations, which you can choose your preferences from.
So, did I say to actually trust the detailing process? To some spouses this may seem like quite the oxymoron! Truly, I’m not sure that I have ever heard anyone say, “I totally trust wherever the detailer wants to send us!” I know that we have joked that the detailer probably gets out a dartboard and wherever his dart lands, that is where you go! (No offense if your sailor has been a detailer, I cannot imagine what a daunting job that is!) After almost 20 years and eight duty stations, my husband and I think long and hard about where we want to go, and we have quite a process. If your sailor is a Nuke, I guarantee that there may also be a spreadsheet involved.
But, quite frankly, where we want to go (ya know, the slate) and where you actually go may not be exactly what you had in mind! And with that, here’s three helpful ways you can trust the process:
Review the slate and consider what is important to your family.
Of course, when the slate comes out everyone gets excited! I see people posting questions about different locations, some exotic and some that have nicknames that precede them (i.e. , my case in point, “Rotten Groton”). We research for months, on Zillow and every other real estate app known to man, of course, different potential locations, the right schools, the right house, job market for yourself, and the list goes on and on! And don’t forget commute time, (my sailor puts that at the top of his list).
To best prepare, you need to sit down with your sailor and have conversations about what is important to both of you. Look at the duty station in relation to your family. Some of you may want to be far away and some of you may want to be within a reasonable distance. Do you have pets, and are they elderly? You may want to take that into consideration before requesting Italy or Hawaii as your top spot. My sailor and I look at each location and take into account if it would be a great place for our kids. For example, on the last slate we put a location at the top of our list because it was a smaller area and we have teen drivers, so less traffic! Then you have to look at what type of boat it is. Is it a Fast Attack, a Boomer, in the shipyard or operational? What kind of environment does your sailor want to work in? There are so many questions, and so many things to consider.And then there’s the waiting, and waiting some more.
Take verbal orders with the grain of salt.
You finally get those orders in hand, my advice is to take verbal orders with a grain of salt, actual paper orders are a safer bet. I always say that we are not 100% sure until the day my husband walks on the boat and they say that he is officially supposed to be there! Don’t let all of this make you nervous, let it help you to be flexible, and in some cases, very flexible. We actually got a call from the detailer who said our orders were being changed and we had three weeks to move across the country, do something with our house, change schools mid-semester, you know, all of the fun! I know I’m not alone in this, so many of us have our stories. And this was after we had paper orders! And guess what? Things fell into place, prayers were said, and God put the right people in the right place. The
move was not perfect, but everything turned out just fine! So I warn you to not fall into the trap of expecting things to be perfect, because they hardly ever are, and it will all depend on your perspective.
Keep a positive perspective.
This is the most important part of trusting the detailing process! I have heard many a wise spouse say that each place is what you make of it, and that old adage is quite true! My husband and I love to reminisce about the amazing people we have met at each duty station, hanging out with NROTC buddies in New Mexico where we were able to enjoy the Balloon Fiesta and buy green chile fresh off the grill. The crazy neighbors in Washington. South Carolina where we had a party every weekend all summer long at different peoples neighboring patios. Even in “Rotten Groton,” I made lifelong friends that held me together while my husband was gone for nine months. We didn’t even expect to go to Washington state, where I still keep in touch with a wife from my boat that became one of my best friends.! Then there was unexpected Kansas, where we got to hang out with the Army for three years and where my son finally felt like he fit in. Now, here we are in Georgia. Do I love the heat and bugs? No. But I love that my daughter has found a niche and some amazing teachers and friends that love her!
It’s hard to narrow down the best things about each duty station, and honestly, it truly is what you make of it. You have to trust that you were put in the place you need to be! You may not see it for years, but you have to trust that there is a reason (because there is.) Maybe it’s not even about you, maybe someone needs you in their life because only you and your family can fill that need.
So keep researching, but know where you go is only part of the bigger picture. You can turn any place into a home!