Summer months open the permanent change of station season

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Summer has officially arrived, and with the rising temperatures we also usher in the permanent change of station (PCS) season.

Relocation is definitely nothing new for military families, but even after the 10th move, some things never get "easier."

But, as with most things in life, preparation is key. Orders in hand, what do you do next? First, split your move into two components: your family and your household goods.

Here are some ideas to guide you from the moment you receive orders through the days of unpacking the maze of brown boxes at your new duty station.


The house

As the years go on, it’s easy to accumulate things from all of the places you go. During several moves growing up, I remember my mom standing in the front yard with the packers and saying, "I don’t know where we got so much stuff."

As mobile as the military lifestyle is, families set down roots quickly and begin nesting. Sometimes it’s hard to keep in mind that everything in your current house eventually will somehow have to find its way to another location. Don’t worry – there are many resources available that will do the heavy lifting for you.

First things first – if you live on or near an installation, connect with the Relocation Readiness Program in your area. Programs like these help you to figure out the logistics by giving you information about your new destination, offering counseling services that address financial readiness and real estate issues.

Information for each individual relocation program is managed through a central, computerized information system, MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, a Department of Defense (DoD ) program.

MilitaryINSTALLATIONS provides guidance on employment, housing, childcare, medical facilities, education, and support services.


Additional resources

Military OneSource’s Plan My Move can keep you organized by providing important points of contact and online checklists to take you through the moving process step by step.

Move.mil also offers resources and relocation guides for military families whether you’re doing a Personal Procured Move (do-it-yourself) or being moved through your Transportation Management Office.

So you know where you’re going, but where will you live when you get there? Look over the DoD Automated Housing Referral Network to see housing availability both on and off post, including rentals and sales by military homeowners.


The family

Anyone with kids (or pets) can tell you that there is much more to moving than just making sure everyone gets in the minivan for the road trip. Military families, particularly kids, adopt a "roll with it" attitude when it comes to moving.

But even though change is now the norm, there are still measures you can take to make sure everyone remains happy and everything is taken care of throughout the moving process.

Investigate. All installations might have an air of familiarity to them, but none are exactly the same. If you’re living at Fort Hood and moving to Fort Polk, you’ll want to do some digging to find out about the different communities and the amenities that may (or may not) be available to you.

Sometimes you could be pleasantly surprised, but you can save yourself from the barrage of "this is awful, it’s not how I thought it would be" by getting the family together for a little pre-move scouting.

Army Wife Network profiles "Posts with the Most" monthly, easily providing you with "insider" information about your next duty station.

Stay informed. In addition to creating a checklist for your household goods, don’t forget to create one for your family. What personal documents should you keep with you, and what is okay to pack? If you’ll need childcare at your new location, what is available to you? It’s important to have answers to these questions prior to relocation.

If you have school-aged children, find out the enrollment requirements and schedules. Is the state you’re moving to covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children? The compact ensures that military students are able to have consistency by addressing issues like course placement and attendance.

If you are PCSing mid-year or late in the summer season, familiarity with the compact can help your students have more flexibility in transferring onto sports teams and advanced placement courses.

Talk it out. It seems simple enough, but many families forget to address the emotional components to moving. What does this move mean for each member of your family? What changes are they apprehensive about? Instead of allowing your loved ones to internalize negative feelings, talk it out.

Having a chance to clear the air will set a clean emotional slate, and will allow your family members to feel as though they have a voice in an uncontrollable situation.

People change jobs every day, but when a service member changes jobs, it usually means a complete upheaval of the rest of their life in order to make the trek to their next place of employment. But there’s no need to stress – just take the time to get a plan together and use the numerous resources around you, and your next PCS could go off without a hitch.


Family Strong – Army Strong!