In this crazy life we’re living, it’s hard to believe we’ve been calling Kosovo home for more than a year (well, a little less than that for me due to my maternity med evac stint in the US) and that our time here will end next summer. And even though that is still a year away, it’s almost time to bid on our next assignment.
JR’s bidding process is probably different from State Department FSOs, so I can only speak to how it works for us. We will receive a list of available positions and their locations, along with the length of each tour. Most tours are four years. Some locations, such as Kosovo, are considered hardship posts and are two year tours. Finally, there are a few one year unaccompanied tours (UT), in locations that are considered too dangerous or unstable for your family to go with you.
We knew when we joined that JR would have to complete at least one UT during his career. It’s really tough to think about spending a year apart, and it’s even harder to try to figure out when it would be best to do this. Now, while Abigail is too little to remember him being gone? Or when she is older and could Skype with him and look forward to his visits home? Right now, we don’t feel ready to face a separation. If we’re forced to, of course we’ll deal with it, but don’t expect him to pull a Katniss this bidding cycle.
Currently, we’re in a weird waiting period because although we have some idea of what positions will be open, we really don’t know for sure. All we can do is think about what factors are most important to us, and what locations might be a good fit. And we also have to prepare ourselves to wind up somewhere unexpected and possibly undesirable. Try as I might, I’ve been unable to convince anyone that the Bahamas or France are developing countries in need of US support.
Our considerations for bidding this time around are a bit different than last time. We have Abby to consider, and if we end up at a 4 year post, she’ll be starting preschool there. So now we find ourselves researching preschool options all over the world. Two other major concerns are safety and medical – specifically with regard to malaria. Malaria is a serious threat in many of the countries that we may serve in, and we would need to consider the risks of having Abby take anti-malarial medication daily for several years. I’ve done a small amount of research on this already and we are very concerned about the possible long-term side effects.