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  • rose
  • December 03, 2018 11:57:59 PM
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Military spouse blog with practical guides ranging from PCSing to Hawaii to Common Scams of Craigslists. Our blog is to empower young people to learn things through simple step-by-step guides.

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Update to Priority Placement Program (2019)

Military Guide As I have always understood it.. Priority Placement among other soldier programs is kind of a ‘sign-up here, here’s this paperwork, do it’. Meaning little information is given and you have to work with what you’re given. So I’ve decided to give some background on the program and how the update has changed […] The post Update to Priority Placement Program (2019) appeared first on Unearthed...

Military Guide

As I have always understood it..

Priority Placement among other soldier programs is kind of a ‘sign-up here, here’s this paperwork, do it’. Meaning little information is given and you have to work with what you’re given. So I’ve decided to give some background on the program and how the update has changed it’s utility (I think, for the better).

New Eligibility Requirements

  • You must reside in active duty spouse’s Permanent Duty Station (PDS)
  • Proof of  marriage to active duty spouse (marriage certificate/DoD privilege card)
  • Must meet all pre-employment criteria

Priority Placement was under the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center. CPAC is basically the HR department for all civilian jobs. With Priority Placement in the past, you would need to sign up at your duty station’s CPAC office and they would assign an advisor who would help input your credentials into their hiring system. Also, you were only allotted a two-year window with the program.

Now or rather as of April 1st, you can skip the personnel office and submit your info directly into USAjobs. As stated by Air Force Maj Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokesperson “Spouses will be transitioned out of the PPP to application-based procedures established for all applicants applying through USAJOBS,” Also, there will no longer be a two year expiration on PP and you do not need to be relocated with your active duty spouse to qualify stated by the CHCO counsel listed here. 

Also, I received word that people who are still in the PPP system prior to the change may have received an email from a CPAC rep stating the program is ‘going away’. Please do not be discouraged by that email! It simply means, your PPP under CPAC is no longer a service. If you have any questions over career opportunities, resume, etc please contact your nearest ACS facility for guidance.

I personally could not find a working link for the Military Spouse Priority Placement Self-Certification Checklist, so please click below if you need that info.

After you’ve completed the checklist you will attach it with related documents on USAjobs. You will have to do this for each application you fill out on USAjobs. Also you can click here to download the update message sent to spouses who were in the CPAC system prior to the change and here for further instructions on how to apply PP to USAjobs.

Anyways, good luck with your job search and if you need help creating a federal resume check out this article!

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How to Get a Job on Base: A Guide for who is hiring

Military Guide If you’re anything like me, I knew nothing about my husband’s installation..  I just knew ‘cool, I go to the commissary to save some money on groceries’ and ‘nice, a free gym’. But joining in for the long haul you start to realize the benefit on sticking to your military community and that […] The post How to Get a Job on Base: A Guide for who is hiring appeared first on Unearthed...

Military Guide

If you're anything like me, I knew nothing about my husband's installation..

 I just knew ‘cool, I go to the commissary to save some money on groceries’ and ‘nice, a free gym’. But joining in for the long haul you start to realize the benefit on sticking to your military community and that every time you move, it’s essentially a restart on your career. So I chose to start working on post and I never regret it!

NAF/MWR jobs

If you look on USAjobs these positions will show up as something like “NAF GS-0303”. It’s important to know that these job opportunities aren’t updated heavily. So I would recommend going to your posts NAF office and talking to them directly with resume in hand. The positions are with the gym, hotel/lodging, and even lifeguard positions. NAF meaning Nonapprioated Funds is the community/wellbeing outlet of the military. They handle most of the family orientated events and facilities so many of the jobs are shift work making it considerably easier for many spouses to join! For more info on how to apply please click here. I would recommend this job if you’re more of the outdoors type!

PX & AFEES

These jobs are great for people with a retail and customer service background. I’m sure you’ve been to one the exchanges before and have seen most of the employees are military spouses. Many of the jobs are cashiers, retail counters, and management positions so check them out! I would definitely recommend these jobs for people who are very energetic and love to chitchat. I will say that these jobs are usually shift-related work and that you will likely be pretty busy depending on the post and lunch hours. Here’s their website.

Childcare related jobs

There are so many different options for childcare related activities on post. There’s Children Youth Services (CYS) for people who enjoy recreational activities with kids and being active. If you’re going through the hiring process, CYS will usually ask if you’re familiar with many team sports. They are looking for candidates who can be active and want to motivate kids, so be prepared to answer any questions related to this topic when applying.

Also, don’t be afraid to go into these offices and ask questions. Most government employees are super open and understanding if you tell them your a military spouse or ex-military.

Depending on the post, The Child Development Center (CDC) is usually looking for all the help they can get. Simply drop by their building with your resume and give them a chat. Also depending on the base, some employees are entitled priority on the waiting list for childcare and some even give small discounts per child registered.

Lastly, there are other options like simply asking neighbors or other military couples if they need someone to look after their children. A great way to find opportunities like this is by posting on a military spouse Facebook groups or joining an app like Care.com.

Post Office

The Post Office usually has multiple jobs to fill and being on post it’s harder to find people who have access to the base. If you’re looking for a job that’s open virtually everywhere with job security I would recommend the Post Office. I believe their benefits and retirement plan aren’t too shabby. I would recommend this job to people who enjoy ‘busy work’ or love to be on their feet more often than not or to people who just want to retire as soon as possible.

Commissary

So I imagine I don’t need to underline what exactly this job entails, the commissary is my favorite grocery store! These are government jobs if you’re applying for cashier or management. Positions like cashier require minimal customer service experience and which is easily attainable for those of us with little background experience. To apply check out their website and USAjobs for more info. 

Military HR department / Contract opportunities

So I actually started off as a contractor under Skyline Ultd. which I loved and gained a lot of experience from! I enjoyed learning more about resources on post and having coworkers from all types of backgrounds. This job is definitely for people who enjoy customer service and office work. Through Skyline you’ll likely be put in a job like DEERs, Travel Office, Reenlistments, etc.

The benefits are pretty good as well because the salaries are based on your region. So say you live somewhere like Hawaii where a gallon of milk costs 7 dollars, they’ll increase your salary to compensate for the difference. To learn more about openings you can always check here or simply walk into your posts Solider Support Center and ask for their hiring manager. They have openings all over the country and they’re looking for people who have a customer service background with some form of military affiliation.

So these are the list of opportunities I found on post and honestly, I was a little intimidated to work here. I have great work experience on the outside I knew all the tricks to get hired but everything on post seems counter-intuitive and it is! If you’re going through the hiring process it’s not about what you know or what sets you apart, it’s about commitment to the job and great sense of hospitality. Always, thank you for reading and hopefully this helps!

Also check out this post on how to create a federal resume and get started on the Priority Placement program here! 

Good luck,

-Rose

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How to Buy a Used Car: A Guide into buying a great car

A Guide into buying a great used car      I’d like to start this article by thanking my husband in supporting me in this hobby. Both of us love cars and I’ve lacked the practice of buying cars. Since we’ve been together we’ve bought some really great cars for dirt cheap or traded up! […] The post How to Buy a Used Car: A Guide into buying a great car appeared first on Unearthed...

A Guide into buying a great used car

     I’d like to start this article by thanking my husband in supporting me in this hobby. Both of us love cars and I’ve lacked the practice of buying cars. Since we’ve been together we’ve bought some really great cars for dirt cheap or traded up!

Most families I know, the guy does all the talking in the buying process but I prefer the team effort because of the dynamic. While my husband talks about specs and the real value of the car, I usually ‘loosen’ people up for negotiating and in cases where the seller is scummy. I usually get the first sense of it because the seller will try to play on my emotions first thinking I don’t know better.

     Just a few points to get out of the way before we start. Make sure you have the VIN before you see the vehicle for transparency sake and get the Carfax. Also, look up the most common issues from that year and model. Then research ways to test or physically see the issue yourself.

Also, check the Kelly Blue Book value and make sure you’re aware of all the models and packages out there. One reason to do so is that KBB is great at pricing cars to the local car market and is probably the most buyer-friendly car pricing site out there. The other reason I highly suggest this is because some people knowingly or otherwise will give you the run around about how the KBB measures up. Throughout our time trading and buying, we’ve met numerous people who’ve listed their car as the v8 model when it’s really the v6 or classifying the condition falsely (KBB have specific classification guidelines for each category). Time and time again, we check KBB prior just so the seller can’t turn around and say ‘my car is worth X amount, I checked KBB’ and not know what the real value or negotiated values look like realistically.

Also, utilize Edmond’s consumer reviews of the cars. Edmond’s usually prices the cars higher than KBB however it has a great consumer review and ratings tool to help you understand how that car measures up for the price. And lastly to note NADA, it is a great pricing tool for specialty vehicles and is more seller friendly on pricing the vehicle. 

1963 thunderbird, classic car, baby blue, fort bliss, vintage
'63 Thunderbird

Alright, so you’re ready to see the car.

Look around for the basics like damage to the paint, A/C works, and that it runs smooth. Few details that really giveaway if a car has been taken care of are.

  • Cleanliness between door jambs and in the corners of the engine bay: Seeing dust caked on with age is a good indicator that they didn’t care enough to maintain the car. And seeing old foliage in the corners of the engine bay usually means that the car has been sitting for months. Not a good sign for a well oiled machine! 
  • Maintenance records: Some people lose track of documents, understandable but excellent car owners keep track of this info. It’s a good sign that the car you’re looking at is in great condition.
  • Get the car tested with an OBD scanner: This is a big one. You can either buy your own OBD scanner or take it to the local Autozone for a free scan of the vehicle. The reason it’s important is that you can clear those codes at anytime, however if it’s still an issue the code will reappear after a few minutes of driving it. Not saying some shady CL people would just clear the code and hope for the best… but rather safe than sorry.
  • Curb rash: If you see a trend of scuffs around the wheels, this may be a good indicator that the person who had it prior didn’t really care about the car. Even if you want the benefit thinking they might just be a bad driver. Consider what this also translates to maintenance wise.
  • Few owners: The less previous owners the better. The reason why this is important is that people who intend on having their cars for a long time usually take good care of their cars.
  • Scatches/dents: They aren’t a big deal to me but there’s definitely a link between small scratches everywhere and maintaining the condition of the car. And I’m not even talking about just the paint. If you see a pattern of scuff marks, pay attention! Sometimes I see scratches near the armrest, so I open it up. Sure enough, the latch is broken. If you see anything worn down, investigate.
  • Rust: If you suspect or find any rust it may not be a big issue especially considering the span of time you might have the car for. However, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored and always check for signs of rust on the frame and undercarriage. One of the easiest ways to do that without having to throw yourself on the floor is feeling the inside walls of the fender. This is where the car experiences some of the worst weather because the wheels throw up mud and water within that area.
  • Miles: Now I understand that you’re in the used car market, but that doesn’t mean getting a car with +200k miles on it is a ‘good deal’. Also, neither does 80k necessarily mean it’s a good car. Two things to pay attention to here. One, if you see a car over 200k it’s probably not worth your time honestly. Two if you’re looking through the history and you see that the car has 100k miles on it and it’s only 3 years old, that’s a sign the thing has been through some rough miles. The average mileage per year is 12,000, so if you do the math and it’s way over that standard consider buying a different car.
  • And last but not least, trust your gut: If you feel strange about the seller or car you don’t have to buy it right now. Sometimes I run into this situation. I find a great car for the price but something just seems off and it kills me that I walk away from it. And every single time, it was the best decision and the moment I leave there’s a sense of relief. There’s always better cars out there! Anyways thank you for reading and good luck!

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Unpacking your life after PCSing

How to walk into a new duty station gracefully. There isn’t a lot of talk about this subject and unfortunately but this is where people miss a lot of opportunities. After all the work from the move, we forget all the little tasks that mean the most like registering with a new primary care physician […] The post Unpacking your life after PCSing appeared first on Unearthed...

How to walk into a new duty station gracefully.

There isn’t a lot of talk about this subject and unfortunately but this is where people miss a lot of opportunities. After all the work from the move, we forget all the little tasks that mean the most like registering with a new primary care physician or finding a new community to support you. Well, here is a guide to help you transition smoothly.

Registering your family to a new base

A few things to cover on this category. Have you updated your Primary care Physician (PCM)? Have you changed your mailing address? Did you update your address with DEERs?

If you live off post, did you check if the local utility companies waive the deposit for active duty members.

Reviewing your reimbursements

This can be a big deal if you just moved and are trying to make up for the deficit. I know personally, a lot of the stuff that we felt should’ve been written off of our personal expenses for moving weren’t covered. On further investigation, we realized the terminology is pretty vague so our next step to send in a review for certain expenses. Here is the Government Travel Card website and info on how expenses are reimbursed.

Find communities by searching online

A good place to start is searching Facebook. Look for military spouse groups for your duty station. They’re a great place for asking questions and finding out what local activities are going on.

how to holidays, thanksgiving, cooking, food, turkey, foodie

Get out into the community by attending local USO events

These activities are great because there’s food, fun, and family. Another thing I love is that they often partner with local business to give you a discount or free services at the events! Click here to find local events.

Go to a MWR event or weekly activity

Click here to find your installations MWR website and click on the calendar tab. This is a great outlet for some of us that like to workout but like to do it in a group setting or wanting to start a new hobby like pottery making.

Lastly, get in touch with yourself!

If you felt like you have been pushed to the brink a few times over the course of the move, get help from a professional. A few resources available are Military One Source, finding a counselor through Tricare, or even speak with the Chaplain’s office on post.

I reason I bring this up is because I had ‘post-pcs depression’. The PCS move was so incredibly stressful among other life events happening at the time that I just simply wasn’t taking care of myself. It’s really easy to get down on yourself, get distracted by the move, and continue to have this underlying mood. So if you have felt less energetic, odd, indifferent, or otherwise go get yourself some help instead of continuing to let it take a toll on you.

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House Hunting Guide for Hawaii

first, welcome to the island! I’ve had PLENTY of experience in this area. Coming from a family that has had rentals in the past, I do see the agony of both sides and coming here with THREE DOGS definitely meant we were searching so quite some time! So I’ve created a guide for what information […] The post House Hunting Guide for Hawaii appeared first on Unearthed...

first, welcome to the island!

I’ve had PLENTY of experience in this area. Coming from a family that has had rentals in the past, I do see the agony of both sides and coming here with THREE DOGS definitely meant we were searching so quite some time!

So I’ve created a guide for what information I needed at the time and things to look out for.

Before I get started, make sure you know your current credit score and have reference information from previous homeowners. If you put down the references, please let them know they’ll probably be getting a call them about your rental history.

Create a Checklist

Make a checklist for you and a separate one for your spouse. Realistically, you two might not agree on the same house as your favorite so if you could separately rank your picks first, that’ll help with negotiating later.

Tip: If you’re active duty, ask about waiving background check fees. Although the property owner has every right to ask, most will waive it since they know military members need an extensive background check for their job. Let them know that your BAH covers the rent as well to reassure them. 

Some of the local property owners I went through were not aware of these things and seemed unsure as to what to do. So I usually will let them know that if you have unit information down and something happens they can call the unit and they’ll make sure the soldier is holding up their end of the rental agreement. This is pretty comforting since the property owners basically have to trust someone with their own home. 

oahu hawaii home buying spouse first-time buyer

Here are a few things to consider in Hawaii for your checklist:

Air Conditioning: Many houses do not have central A/C and consider the costs of running the A/C because electric is incredibly expensive.

Parking: Many places have crowded parking and different towns have vastly different road conditions.

Pet Deposit: A lot of places don’t accept pets or some of the ones that do will want ridiculous things like additional month’s rent in collateral. Yikes!

Weather: Different parts of the island have widely different weather (look up annual rainfall, etc)

Jalousie windows:  This is something I wished I learned about before I moved in. They are great for letting air in but if you want to run an A/C a lot of the older windows have large gaps in between when you close them.

Appliances/Utilities: So I’ve noticed many homeowners will say ‘The rent covers utilities’ especially if they have solar panels. Keep in mind what your likely costs of utilities might be with the cite listed here and if the homeowner wants to regulate your electricity usage.

Garage/storage spaces: Most of the homes we looked at had park ports with an outdoor storage closet.

Location: Considering children there are a few websites like Family WatchDog for crime. For education, there is SchoolDigger to find schools and Hawaii DOE to find what school district they would be placed in if you choose a certain neighborhood. Also, think about the proximity to work and traffic hours.

If you rental shares walls or you live on the same property as the homeowner: I know this sounds odd to most people but places like Haleiwa do have large places but the only drawback is your property owner might be a little too close for comfort.

Home Owner Associations: This is pretty important for my husband and I, the nicer parts of town typically don’t let you have cars on jack stands if leave tools out and for good reason! But the good thing is a lot of the associations have benefits like access to the YCMAs in the area (if your property owner will pass that info to you).

Closet/room space: I’ve found many homes had little to no closet space even in the master bedroom.

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Ashely’s Story: How the PCS Process Actually Works to Hawaii

Author: Ashley Pitkin, Military Spouse How the PCS Process to Hawaii Actually Works       Our PCS to Hawaii was definitely the most stressful move we have ever done. Our Household goods were packed up 2 months before our actual move out date because it takes a long time for things to get on […] The post Ashely’s Story: How the PCS Process Actually Works to Hawaii appeared first on Unearthed...

Author: Ashley Pitkin, Military Spouse

How the PCS Process to Hawaii Actually Works

      Our PCS to Hawaii was definitely the most stressful move we have ever done. Our Household goods were packed up 2 months before our actual move out date because it takes a long time for things to get on island. Luckily we had 2 vehicles as we shipped one 2 months in advance as well. The 2nd vehicle isn’t paid for by the Army so we sold that to my sister right before we flew out to come to Hawaii. 

        Our dog cost us about $800 to fly her on island and another $500 to keep her at the kennel for 30 days because her shots were done 3 days too late. Staying at a hotel with 3 kids for almost a month was probably the worst part of it all. Our house was a mess when we moved in, but we didn’t care our kids were over not having their stuff. We’ve been here about 5 months and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

       The island is just down right beautiful. The Locals are always kind and willing to help in anyway they can. I absolutely love Hawaii and all of the wait was beyond worth it. My 3 boys are loving island life and never want to leave. We were prepared to be without our Household goods for a while and had air mattresses, blankets and all my kids had a backpack full of special items! 

Ashley Pitkin Hawaii Military Spouse PCS

       We bought a island car about 6 weeks after we moved here. We paid about 1200 , but put about 2500 in it for transmission issues a few weeks after buying it. I recommend if you buy a car here have it checked out by a shop before paying. The seller didn’t tell us about the transmission and thankfully we had enough money to fix it. We live on post which was the cheapest option for our family and we love it. The commissary is super affordable compared to other grocery stores. We have access to a lot of free kid friendly activities and amenities. The schools aren’t the best and my kids are still adjusting to the short school days. I do a lot of at home studies and homework to help make up for it.

       This is only our 3rd duty station. Our first was Ft. Bliss 2nd Ft. Riley now Schofield Barracks. So far this is definitely my favorite of them all. I would highly recommend doing research on the schools and housing areas before you decide if it’s a good fit for your family. I have heard private schools and homeschooling is your best options for education here if you can afford it. Majority of the fun on the island is free. I try to stay away from the tourist attractions like luau and tours those things can add up quickly.

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