Resources and Tools to Help Reduce PCS Stress
One thing that all Army families can relate to is the exciting, sad, happy, draining, often frustrating experience of a permanent change of station (or PCS for short). This year brings additional challenges to the PCS process, and the Army is taking steps to relieve the stress for Soldiers and their families. The availability of movers, rental trucks and storage facilities is low as many people, both military and civilian, are on the move this summer. Patience, planning, information gathering, and organization are even more important than usual.
No matter how many times you have moved, information that can help improve your move experience is always useful. A good place to start gathering information on the PCS process is the MyArmyBenefits Benefit Library under Federal Benefits, specifically the PCS fact sheets for CONUS (continental U.S.) and OCONUS (outside of the continental U.S.). These fact sheets provide a brief explanation of the steps of PCSing from the receipt of orders to arrival at your new duty station. There is also a list of online resources where you can go for more detailed information at the bottom of each fact sheet.
Next, be sure to review the Relocation Assistance fact sheet for information about the Relocation Assistance Program offered through Army Community Service (ACS) on each installation. This fact sheet also includes information on the core PCS allowances provided to Soldiers and their families during a move, and a summary of the information found on the Department of Defense move.mil website.
The move.mil site maintained by the Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Transportation Command (U.S. TRANSCOM), is a valuable tool for planning and executing your move. It is where you will find updates about the current moving challenges, a complete Moving Guide, tutorials for tasks such as new user registration and creating a shipment, an extensive list of FAQs, and additional tools and resources. Within the Moving Guide you will find “pro tips” that offer good advice such as putting all your items you plan to keep with you when traveling to your new duty station into a closet that is clearly marked “Do Not Pack”. At the bottom of the move.mil homepage you will find a link to service-specific PCS information and tools. The Army page offers videos on the moving and claims processes as well as customer service contact information. A Locator Maps function allows you to search by installation for the contact information of your local transportation office—losing and gaining.
In addition to reviewing all the information available on official Army and DoD websites when preparing for a PCS, ask your fellow Soldiers and Spouses for their best moving tips. There is nothing like the voice of experience sharing lessons learned. They will probably offer helpful advice such as: 1) be sure to empty the kitchen and bathroom trash cans so you don’t unpack your garbage from your last duty station at your new home; 2) put all your valuable breakables from throughout the house in the kitchen to be packed with the dishes; and, 3) once most of your worldly belongings are packed up and on their way, take a deep breath and have some fun as you prepare to travel to your new home and start the next chapter in your military adventure.