Tag Archives: PCS

Supporting Your Shipmate’s PCS Move


Like any transition, permanent change of station (PCS) moves can be exciting, frustrating and stressful all at once. Recently, Navy announced that Sailors and their families can continue to expect shortened lead times for PCS moves through the end of the fiscal year: approximately two months or less.  This unpredictability can make the transition more challenging than usual, which is why it’s more important than ever to be there for your shipmates. Here’s what you can do:

During the “waiting period:”

The stress of not knowing can start to spill over into other areas of your shipmate’s life and lead them to feel overwhelmed or powerless. Small acts can help your shipmate regain predictability and controllability even without the firm details. Offer to help them get a head start on the things that they can tackle now, such as packing out of season clothing or taking inventory of rented household goods to expedite the return process. Even while waiting on official orders it’s a good idea to suggest that your shipmate reach out to their new command to connect with their sponsor as soon as possible. If their sponsor hasn’t yet been identified, offer to link your buddy with someone who’s navigated a short-notice move before and can share some helpful hints. Emotions can run high during any move and at times your shipmate may feel as if they’re the only one who’s going through this stress. Connecting with and learning from others who have been there can make the reality seem less daunting, along with practicing a few strategies to think positively.

Once orders are in-hand:

Ask what you can do, whether it’s packing or lending an ear. If your shipmate seems to have it all under control, it’s still important to pay attention to even the smallest signs of distress. Perhaps you’re already aware of relationship and/or family issues, financial strain, uncertainty about the new job, or other issues. These situations can intensify when facing major changes and may worsen if left unchecked. Encourage your shipmate to speak with someone who can help them work through things, such as a chaplain, leader or BeThere peer support counselor. Getting support early is vital to ensuring that stressors don’t turn into crises, especially when starting a new chapter in life.

During the move:

Stay connected so that your shipmate doesn’t lose the protection that a sense of community provides. Be sure to exchange updated contact information, ask about plans (travel dates, pit stops, arrival dates, etc.) and check in often. When you check in with your shipmate, nudge them to get adequate rest (seven to eight hours, supplementing deficits with brief naps), eat balanced even when on the go (fruits, veggies, lean protein and water), and take breaks to enjoy the journey.

If you notice signs of distress:

Leaving a familiar environment—especially quickly—can disrupt daily routines and social networks, increasing the likelihood of risky decision-making. If you are concerned about your shipmate, ACT immediately. You can call the Military Crisis Line on behalf of your shipmate to get them connected to services in their area.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to others to help connect the dots, such as your shipmate’s receiving command or a family member to help facilitate the intervention process if a potentially serious situation is evolving.

Staying connected not only helps to restore predictability and controllability; it promotes trust, strengthens Relationships and helps your shipmate find Meaning in challenges. It’s about being there for Every Sailor, Every Day.

Nailing Down the Details: Tips to Reduce PCS Stress

PCS Tips (Livingstone-Hoyte)_Image.docx“PCSing”—the colloquial term for enduring a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move—hasn’t officially made its way into the Webster dictionary, but it is keenly known in the military community as a way of life. The process can induce a bit of muffled enthusiasm, layered with the possible burden of added financial costs and uncertainties that can change the dynamic of a military household. As we enter peak PCS season, consider a few simple steps to help minimize stress when navigating your next move.

Budgeting and the Cost of Moving

It has been reported that service members spend an average of $1725 in non-reimbursable costs during a PCS move[1]. To help you exercise Predictability to be better prepared for the financial commitment of moving, consider the following:

  • Establish and maintain a moving fund. Account for potential travel expenses and household set-up costs including utility and rental deposits, which are oftentimes the most expensive. Consider resources that may help you save money, such as borrowing versus buying certain household items using a family service agency relocation kit. While some costs may be reimbursable, keep in mind that those monies will need to be accounted for in your budget until reimbursement is processed.
  • Decide how you will execute your move. Will the government assume full responsibility of packing, shipping, cost of moving etc., or will you take the reins through a do-it-yourself Personally Procured Move (PPM)? To help you make your final decision, realistically assess whether your family can execute the move without significant burdens (financial, physical, mental and/or emotional) which can easily lead to a stressful situation. The installation transportation office, family assistance centers and Military OneSource are just a few useful resources to gather information in order to make the best decisions.

Old Business/New Business

Leaving old relationships and forming new ones is inherent to any move, but this doesn’t just apply to personal bonds. Be sure you’re leaving your professional and financial relationships (i.e. creditors) on good terms by:

  • Providing timely notices of intent to vacate rental property;
  • Rendering all final account payments (utilities, cable, etc.); and
  • Returning any leased equipment like cable television boxes or rented washing machines and dryers.

Most importantly, be sure to obtain written confirmation that each account has had a proper disposition. Failing to do so can negatively impact establishing new services at the new location.

Love it or List it?

Relocating homeowners are confronted with decisions involving selling or renting their property. While some families may opt to have their Sailor PCS alone—since financially supporting two households in separate geographical locations can cause financial hardship—others may decide to move everyone and keep their property for rental income. There are several advantages to this, including additional cash flow, tax benefits, and flexibility to sell later. But the uncertainties, particularly around nightmarish tenants, can add stress during (and after) your move. To that end, here are some basics you’ll want to understand before you drive that “For Rent” sign in the yard:

  • What are properties currently renting for in your area? It’s good to check going rates, current demand and the state of the market. At minimum, you’ll want to be able to cover your monthly note on the mortgage.
  • Check out your potential tenants! Don’t just go by a nice personality and great smile when deciding to whom to rent your family’s home. Obtain permission to conduct background checks into the lessee’s credit history, criminal history and rental history. To minimize difficulty enforcing your lease, encourage your trusted tenant to purchase renter’s insurance, and weigh the pros and cons of renting to friends or family.
  • Go by the book. You’ll want to be familiar with investment property tax codes and housing laws at the federal, state and local levels.

If you intend on selling a home due to PCS orders, have a limited timeline and need to know what your options are, here are just a few of your resources to reach out to:

Other PCS to do’s include obtaining and updating insurance coverages; putting mail on hold, forwarding and/or submitting a change of address; obtaining school and medical records, acquiring housing and school district information and many more. Military OneSource’s Plan My Move tool has several useful resources tailored to your upcoming location and move dates, including a timeline-based check sheet.

Whether this is move one or 100 for your family, preparing for what you can predict can help you maintain a sense of control and navigate stress. Even with the challenges of a PCS move, strive to make it a positive process where new adventures await!

For additional resources, check out Navy’s Relocation Assistance Program, Military Saves, Move.mil, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC®, is an experienced financial counselor who has worked extensively with U.S. Armed Forces members and families. She is a long-time volunteer blogger for Navynavstress.com and previously served at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Millington, Tenn. as a financial counselor. As a military spouse, Ms. Livingstone-Hoyte knows firsthand of the financial challenges and opportunities that face military families across the globe. To that end, she embraces a steadfast belief that financial success can be simple, just not easy.

[1] Military.com. Financial Tips for Permanent Change of Station. Retrieved from http://www.military.com/money/pcs-dity-move/financial-tips-for-permanent-change-of-station.html

The Stress of Waiting for PCS Orders

Moving a household can be one of the most stressful experiences service members and their families can face. Uncertainty about new neighbors, schools and work can be stressful enough, but not knowing when ‘official orders’ will arrive can only make the transition harder. We’ve posted tips on how to Navigate Stress during a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) but the shorter window between the arrival of orders and reporting dates can only make an already stressful time, worse.  The Navy’s 2010 Behavioral Health Quick Poll tells us that ‘unpredictability’ is a major contributor to Sailor’s stress levels. We can’t control when the orders come through, but we can try to lessen our negative reactions by focusing on what we can control. For example, not knowing exactly when the movers are coming can be extremely stressful, but packing up ‘out of season’ clothing can provide a good start.  Reach out to others to find out how they’ve managed short notice moves and ask for help.  In the meantime try to take care of yourself and your family by understanding stressors and how best to prepare for what can be an extraordinarily stressful time.

Know that stress is normal. It can challenge us to perform our best, but too much stress can be harmful. Take time to participate in activities that can move you back into the green zone of the stress continuum.

Remember when it comes to the stress of PCS season, you are not alone – so reach out for help. More than 20,000 Navy service members and their families will face the same adventure this summer.

What activities do you enjoy to help navigate the stress of a PCS?

For more information on PCSing please visit:

Fleet and Family Support Center’s Relocation Assistance Program

Navigate Stress During a PCS

This week’s cartoon features Air Force spouse and military cartoonist Julie Negron, creator of JennySpouse.com

Navigate stress during a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)!

While we like to think of summer as long lazy days filled with outdoor fun and beach vacations, the summer season can also be filled with worry about school transfers, moving expenses, and leasing requirements. More than 20,000 Navy service members and families will face the sometimes traumatic trials of a PCS this summer.  Whether you are moving as a single Sailor, or with a family, stress can easily mount as the to-do lists get longer and the days gets shorter.

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