My name is Lauren, I’m a mother of two and an Air Force wife. Thus far we’ve been stationed at three bases, two of which I’ve never heard anyone describe as ideal or even acceptable by modern standards. Yet, I’m always surprising people, telling them I’d go back to Del Rio, Texas in a heartbeat for the breakfast tacos alone, not to mention the exciting extra curricular activities (and no, I’m not being sarcastic).
None of us knows for sure where they’re going to send us next, but it’s always hard to pick up your life and transplant it to a new climate or country. Eventually we find the good things about a new town; eventually we make it a new home.
The longer you’ve been in the military community, the more you realize that you are not alone. You can chat on Facebook with that friend of a friend who is already stationed at your next assignment. Or your new neighbor will just happen to come from that same base and be happy to tell you all about it.
This year, perhaps partly out of selfishness because our PCS is coming in spring, I was inspired to follow through on an idea I had put on the shelf years ago. My idea was to find a way to connect military families, those who’ve been “there” and those who are going “there”, so that we all could finally have one place to go for real answers.
So with a little investment and my husband’s support, I worked with a developer to create TheUnclassifieds.com, a place for military families to start redefining military intelligence.
How it started.
Almost five years ago, in one of those very public ceremonies that the Air Force seems to get a kick out of, they told me (well, my husband) to move to Okinawa, Japan. I thought I was ready for any assignment, but apparently I wasn’t, as was evidenced by a minor mental break witnessed by more people than I care to remember.
The truth was, I didn’t know anything about Japan. Where were we going to live? What about having kids while we were there? How was I going to call my MOM?
Needless to say, we figured things out, because what else are you going to do? We can even say that it has turned out to be a great assignment, but if only someone could have told me that from the get go…
As our final year here on Okinawa began, and we faced the exciting prospect of “choosing” our next bases, that familiar queasy feeling that comes with unfamiliarity began to bubble up.
How am I going to meet new people? We have kids now, where are the good schools? That base is in the middle of nowhere, what are we going to do there.
Here’s the big idea:
Home is wherever they send us every three to four years, and with every move military families are forced to start from scratch. We cross our fingers and hope that we are able to make the right decisions for our families based on our hunches and information we’ve pieced together from Google searches. No move is an easy move.
For the most part we do it on our own, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone has something to share or contribute. We all go through a lot of painful and amazing experiences during moves and throughout our various assignments. These experiences are worth sharing.
The more I’ve talked to friends and countless fellow service families, frustrated as we were by “reinventing the wheel” with every move, the more I’ve felt compelled to do something.
The solution turned out to be simple: create a forum where service families could easily connect and share or find information.
TheUnclassifieds.com – A Military Family Intelligence Community
What makes this site different?
- When users contribute to The Unclassifieds, their posts are grouped first by base and then by category, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- The “intelligence” on the site is generated entirely by military families who have been there – these are the best guides for other families.
- Intel is constantly being added and updated so users can discover new resources even after they PCS.
It’s easy to forget how important the little things are. This is one of the largest obstacles we will have to overcome in order to make this site successful and as useful as I hope it will be.
I remind each person that I tell about TheUnclassifieds that everyone has something valuable to share, be it housing, hospitals, parks, schools, clubs, shopping, or a really really good hairdresser. Every post helps another service family turn a new base into a new home.