Can we leave right after he graduates?

On the day my husband graduates, can he jump in the car with me and drive 10 hrs back home, or will he have to wait around for a while?

The reason I ask is because he has an assignment to Ft. Lewis, which is, of course, clear across the country from Ft. Jackson and Cleveland (our current residence). We have 3 children and were hoping to high-tail it to Ft. Lewis in an attempt to get base housing. We have been told that there is "unprecedented" activity with soldiers coming and going on Ft. Lewis.

I am not fond of the idea of having to drive the three young children 2,400 miles by myself, although "ya gotta do what ya gotta do."

So...should I drive down to Ft. Jackson with the kiddos and then go to Ft. Lewis from there, or should I grab him, get back to Cleveland, pick up the kids and then roll the next day? Or should I suck it up, roll with the kids and let him fly to get housing sooner? We are trying to make the best choice with per diem in mind, too.

Thanks for any help from a new army wife.
Original Post
Regardless of whether he can leave that day or not your best bet is to let him report to Ft. Lewis and in process before you and the kids join him. Most commands will let him take a 10 day leave to move you guys after he reports. By letting him go first you give him a chance to secure you housing whether it be on post or off. There is no guarantee that post housing will be immediately available for you when you get there and this will save you from having to rent a hotel room for however long it takes to find housing. These of course are only my suggestions but I have 14 years experience being an Army wife.....lol
I agree with "tankerswife". Not to mention, ( and i've been stationed many places but never Ft. Lewis) but most Big DIV bases that have a high volume of soldiers coming and going have some sort of mandatory group in-processing. Which is tuff to do and trying to get a family comfortable at the same time. Mainly because of the living quarters situation. Maybe and hopefully Someone on here is familiar with Ft. Lewis and can provide some insight on PCS's there.
Generally he will be able to leave after graduation, change clothes (if they graduate in dress uniform!) and wait around a while to get all paperwork in order and sign out. So whatever time graduation is, add 2-3hrs.
((((I ALWAYS count on things being crappy or slow in the Army. that way I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised, rather than always being bummed out.))))

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I Don't agree with tankerswife and Commoznmysoul. My wife has always travelled with me and I think it has reduced stress for her.

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The Army will pay for moving the family. That means he will get several days of leave that he will not be charged for- for travel. Plus whatever he decides to take extra.
-AFTER he has in-processed the unit they will pay like $.20 per mile driven (the most directroute) from AIT to Ft. Lewis. (you pay any deviations in route.)
-They will pay up to a certain (low) amount per day of travel called "per diem" for meals and hotel room. DURING THE TRAVEL DAYS. (ie You drive to Cleveland and stay for a while, but the Army says they allow you 3 days to drive, they would pay for 2nights in a hotel. Not the week you spend in Cleveland). DON'T GO to the most expensive places, they will only reimburse a low amount. SAVE ALL RECEIPTS.

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Another option is for him to fly part (or all). The Army will pay for a plane ticket and separately the family can drive. BUT he could fly to Cleveland, you all could drive together to Ft. Lewis. The Army always pays "the cheapest" form of transportation, but remember at government rates, you might find it just as cheap for him to fly then drive as anything else. (He'll have to wait until he has a couple weeks left before graduation to talk with the transportation office about the arrangements.)

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As soon as he has orders and/or a leave form you should be able to send it to the Ft. Lewis housing office and get on the list for a place. Google "fort lewis housing office" turns this up: http://www.fortlewiscommunities.com/

When you get to Ft. Lewis the Army will pay for several nights in the Army Guest House (hotel) but make sure you get receipts and call in advance for reservations.

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IF HE ASKS for it, your husband can get moving money in advance to help pay for moving costs. It's called DLA for "dislocation allowance". It's extra paperwork the unit doesn't want to deal with, but it's probably upwards of $1000 to help with moving.
((((((Sounds stupid but DON'T spend it on new furniture or anything until you're settled in. Moving is expensive. Small things for the house, fridge stuff adds up, hotel costs, etc... ))))

He can also get an advance on his pay but I SUPER STRONGLY recommend against doing this. You have to pay it back over 6-12months and that can be hard if you are just adjusting to Army salary and have other expenses at a new location.

He needs to talk to the transporation (moving) office as soon as he gets orders to arrange for moving all your stuff. The Army will pay packers to move all your household goods. Make sure you pay attention to what they're packing, keep a good inventory, say something if everything doesn't seem right. ((I've found it helpful to get babysitters for the kids that day somewhere else, so you can just deal with the movers.))

--They'll unpack at the new place too, and they're supposed to move all the furniture and take all the empty boxes. But usually they try to leave without doing that- just don't sign anything until your'e satisified.
--I've also found it helpful to have cold waters/gatorade in the fridge for the movers, if you are courteous and watchful you shouldn't have anything broken/stolen. We bought them Burgerkind for lunch one time, too. (3 movers, I left for food while the wife stayed at the house with them.) Many people just sit watching tv or playing on their phone while the movers are working. You really can't do that..

Also have your stuff out so it's ready to pack. If you leave trash in the trashcan before you know it it's wrapped up and on the truck. We mark one room with stuff we DON'T want packed and put a sign on that room.

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Later you can try a "do it yourself" (DITY) move. Most people rent a Uhaul and load their stuff up. We're having a small semi-trailer left at the house, we have a few days to pack, then they take it to the new house and we unpack it.

We're trying it out July1- Supposedly we'll make a thousand dollars or two, but I don't know if it will be worth the work yet. Eeker

Have fun with your move!!!

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