Army PCS family moves - 'Turn lemons into lemonade'

Army PCS family moves - 'Turn lemons into lemonade'

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I have to admit there is a part of me that looks forward to moving.

I said, a part of me.

You know, the part that likes purging, the part that enjoys a challenge, the part that likes new adventures and the part that tries turning lemons into lemonade.

And sometimes, PCSing is definitely lemons.

If you’re reading this and you have more than a couple of PCSes under your belt, then we probably have something in common – our share of “bad” move stories.

Speaking for my family, we’ve had our treasured belongings lost, stolen and broken.

Packing crews have put my wedding dress in the same box as the bathroom rug. Movers have shown up late and sometimes, not at all. But after four moves in eight years, I learned a few things to make this sometimes painful process a bit easier.

Decide your housing exit plan early

If you are a renter, give your notice as early as possible. Check your lease agreement regarding military release clauses.

Be aware of your responsibilities and stand your ground if they try to charge you for normal wear and tear. If you own your home, you’ll need to decide if you will sell or rent.

Both scenarios have their own “to-do” lists so deciding earlier is always better.


In fact, I recommend purging even if you are stuck in PCS Limbo. It will give you a sense of accomplishment to clean out the old. Lightening the load gives a little psychological boost, and we can all use it whether we are looking forward to the move or not.

Prioritize and Organize

Take the time to gather all your important documents well before the packers show up at your door. Don’t assume vital documents such as your child’s school records will make their way to the new school.

As soon as you know what schools your children will be attending, let your old school know and confirm the records were sent. It may take several phone calls, and if there is a snag, it’s often easier taken care of in person before you move.

If you are moving to or from a non-Military Treatment Facility, you will want to request copies of your health records to hand deliver. You will also want to include records from any outside specialty care.

Use Your Resources & Lean on Each Other

My favorite part of the relocation process is learning about our next duty station and who better to lean on than fellow military families who have lived in post housing or had to commute from off-post neighborhoods.

With today’s access to digital and social media, we’re connected as a community like never before.

And now, with the advent of online platforms like the new website, we have a way of sharing the most important information on our biggest must solve problems unlike ever before.

If you haven’t heard of PCSgrades just yet, you should know it is a veteran-owned website dedicated to providing fellow military and veteran families with a trusted place to share insights and reviews from the people we all trust the most – fellow military and veteran families.

The topics covered include base housing, off-base neighborhoods, moving companies, realtors, schools, mortgage lenders, apartments, and more.

Scrolling through each section, reading reviews by fellow military spouses is especially helpful if you are moving to an area you are unfamiliar with, which typically describes most of us.

The beauty of this particular website are the reviews posted by fellow military families. Every review submitted on PCSgrades strengthens the voice of our military community, providing a little more control that has never existed before.

PCSing can be very stressful. Issues pop up. It never goes as planned.

But once you know where the military is sending you and you’ve checked out your housing options, take the time to enjoy yourself before you leave your current duty station.

Have lunch with friends. Let the kids have those “last” sleepovers. Savor those final few days before the packers and movers descend. And consider paying it forward (and dialing back your stress level) by sharing your insights with the rest of us at

Together we can truly make a difference.

(Editor’s note: Carla Olivo, director, PCSgrades Strategic Communications, previously served as the director of communications for Operation Hug-A-Hero and as the media/community relations officer, Delaware Department of Transportation. She holds numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, News Writing, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC lieutenant colonel, and their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.)