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September 20, 2014

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For members of the military, moves are common but rarely routine

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L.E. Baskow

(From right) Rheina Delmundo carries out a small table from her daughter’s room as she and family ready for another military move Monday, June 16, 2014. A1C Jake Carter stands by with Nellis AFB public affairs to ensure things go smoothly.

Delmundo Family Moves Again From Nellis AFB

Rheina Delmundo takes down butterflies hanging from a fan in her daughter's room as she and husband, TSGT Rommel Delmundo, ready for another military move Monday, June 16, 2014. Launch slideshow »

She watched from the living room of her North Las Vegas home as her husband led the movers around and showed them what needed to be packed.

Rheina Delmundo’s face was calm, but her stomach churned with nerves. There still was so much to do. The family’s move to San Antonio was only a few days away, and they still had no place to live.

“This move is causing really bad anxiety,” Delmundo said.

They know the drill by now. Delmundo and her husband, Tech Sgt. Rommel Delmundo, grew up as Navy brats, moving from city to city almost every other year. Now, Rommel Delmundo is in the Air Force, and in 11 years, the family has moved from Washington, D.C., to Tucson, Ariz., to Las Vegas and now to San Antonio.

This move is proving to be the toughest. The Delmundos’ daughters — now 7 and 5 years old — have made friends here in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Rommel Delmundo returned home from deployment June 2, barely in time to help his wife with the move.

“We were supposed to pack up on June 6, but something happened with the paperwork,” Rheina Delmundo said. “There’s a lot of anticipation and anxiety.”

The Delmundos’ experience isn’t unusual. They are one of about 9,000 military families who will move in or out of Nellis Air Force Base with new orders this year. Many of those orders come between May and September, making this the peak moving season.

“It’s hectic because there’s an influx of customers, and sometimes we have a lot of short notices, so that makes it more complicated,” said Staff Sgt. Ieashia Mckenzie, who works in the Logistical Readiness Squadron. “From my experience, it’s one of the most stressful times.”

The Logistical Readiness Squadron takes care of most of the work for relocating families. The unit processes paperwork and coordinates with contracted movers, who pack up families’ belongings and load them into trucks. The military then moves the belongings to the next location.

Despite the help, nothing is simple when it comes to moving a life.

The Delmundos had to find a tenant for their North Las Vegas house. They needed to find a new home in San Antonio. And it couldn’t be just any home, Rheina Delmundo said. They need one in a good neighborhood, with good schools. They also have to find a doctor and therapist for their 5-year-old, who was born with a growth hormone deficiency.

Then there are the intangibles: figuring out new roads, finding favorite restaurants and discovering places to visit. With no knowledge of San Antonio, the family is reliant on Air Force spouse support group message boards and a military-assigned sponsor stationed in San Antonio.

“Lucky for us, a couple people we worked with here are over there,” Rommel Delmundo said.

This move also marks the first in which their daughters are old enough to know what’s happening. Both Rommel and Rheina sympathize; they know how lonely and frustrating life can be starting over every two or three years.

“At a certain age, it was like, ‘Hey want to come over and play ninja turtles?’ ” Rommel Delmundo said. “As soon as high school starts, it’s like, ‘Oh god, I’m that new guy now.’ ”

The Delmundos have promised the children trips to Sea World, camping adventures and visits to the Alamo to help ease the transition. Still, their 7-year-old broke down on her last day at the youth center when she had to leave her friends.

“She was like, ‘Why?’ ” Rheina Delmundo said. “I feel bad for them. I’m sure they’ll kind of understand as they get older.”

After a couple hours, 14 cardboard boxes marked with “girl’s clothes and toys” line the back wall of a bedroom with princess decor. For now, the place still looks like a home, with a big-screen TV, family photos and rugs.

Soon, the contents will be packed in a moving van.

The Delmundos will miss their friends in Las Vegas, Oyshi Sushi and the 24-hour convenience of the city. But they also know they’ll make new friends in San Antonio and find new favorite restaurants, just like they always do.

Then, in another two years, they’ll probably prepare to box up their lives and do it all over again.

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