• Julie Balzer

An Officer and Her Gentleman: What Mobility Professionals Can Learn from Military Families

Updated: Jul 7, 2019

My sister is a Major in the US Army, and has served in the Middle East, Europe, and domestically as a nurse. From hitching rides on Blackhawks to setting up field hospitals in 115° heat, she knows a thing or two about mobility management. Her husband, an accomplished businessman, has been by her side during the last three relocations. I recently interviewed them in order to share their story, and inspire mobility professionals (in any sector!) to attune their policies to the needs of the good people they are paying to uproot!

How many miles have you traveled together for actual relocation?

We’ve relocated for work three times together, almost 6000 miles total. The addition of a dog and a baby before our last move required a new level of coordination!

Hottest place you’ve lived together?

New Orleans. Yikes! But it had the best food and friendliest people.


Chicago. It was -9°F the day our son was born.

Can you tell me about the military’s relocation programs?

It’s all paid for, one way or another. While in transit, the soldier gets paid based on their rank in pay wage and number of dependents. They also provide a food and lodging stipend, based on the same sliding scale. Then you have two choices:

A. Do it yourself & get paid into your own pocket for the labor and hauling. You weigh everything, and they pay you directly based on how many pounds of stuff.

B. Professional moving company to the rescue & you drive your own vehicle & rendezvous with household goods.

What’s the hardest part vs. the best part about moving every few years?

The hardest part is having to reintegrate socially & professionally each time. The best part is broadening culturally & meeting tons of new people. We’ve gained a gigantic network for everything we’ll need in life.

With the experience you now have, what do you wish you had known the first time you made a big move together?

It’s taken three moves to finally have a well-developed strategy for integrating. We’ve been on our own to do the necessary research to find the right place to live in the new town, based on commutes, demographics, neighborhood amenities, crime rate, cost of living, etc. We found areavibes.com to be helpful & we grew to understand the things we wanted/didn’t in our “hood”. We also know very well how to pack a car up for a 3-5 day road trip & how to “scout the route”.

Every time we move, our needs are different. If we had someone to guide us through the integration process each time, we could settle in faster and get back to work, rather than spending 2 weeks wandering around looking for houses, daycare, dog walkers, etc.

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