The Perils of Frequent Moving

One of the requirements of obtaining a government security clearance is filling out reams of paperwork giving names and addresses of people who can vouch that you’re not a commie spy, addresses of former employers, addresses of every place you’ve lived, etc.

The first time I did this, I was a 22-year-old cadet who’d never had a real job and only had to go back a very short time because they don’t check before a certain age. This time, though, I literally don’t remember the addresses of all the places I have lived in the past decade, let alone the work addresses and phone numbers. Since getting out of the Army in 1992, I’ve lived at eight different addresses in seven different cities, some places for only a year at a time. Fortunately, I have all my old tax records filed away and was able to dig them up. I’m not sure what people who are less organized are supposed to do.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I just put down any old thing. I got the clearance no problem. Actually, I think proper information delays things. At My first post-college job, when I knew the only two addresses I had ever lived at, the clearance took TWO YEARS. My latest only took weeks.

  2. Matt Navarre says:

    Fun, ain’t it? Mine’s up for renewal in about a year. I’m not looking forward to filling that stuff out. At least I’ve only lived 3 places since originaly got mine.

  3. Jim says:

    It is so bad that I have EPSQ on my quick launch bar…. 🙁

  4. James Joyner says:

    Heh. It’s on my desktop, but not the quick launch bar!

  5. Donnie says:

    Hehehe…James, James…

    If you can’t remember the old addresses, bro, rest assured the FBI will find them.

    That’s why the clearance renewal costs your employer $$$ 😉

    Had mine renewed about 4 years ago, friends I didn’t even remember, from 1982 or so, were calling me or writing me to ask: “Dude, what did you DO? There were like totally dudes with massive, awesome three-piece suits and shades by here yesterday, asking all kinda questions ’bout you. Like, MAJOR scary…you a’ight?”

    Not as bad as my initial clearance, out of OCS though…my 7th grade German teacher called my Mama to ask her why the Gub’mint was asking after me. Sheesh.


    – D

  6. Kevin says:

    And how lame is that middle initial check? Everybody in my application whose middle name I don’t know get’s a “J”.

  7. Bob Hawkins says:

    At least none of you guys have a mother who worked for Japanese Army intelligence in WWII.

  8. jen says:

    You have tax records from 1992? You know you only need to keep those things for 3 years, right?

    My background check when I got this job wasn’t as extensive since I don’t have a Top Secret, but there were about four investigators roaming all over the east coast verifying the addresses. I got calls from two in New Hampshire within a couple hours of each other.

  9. you can’t fudge information if you are going for a high level clearance.. like a G&H.