Tag Archives: Transitions

Beat the Heat of Summer Transition Stress with Support

Beat The Heat of Summer Transition with Support_blog image

Summertime is a great time of year, with the sun and accompanying warm weather putting us in a better mood than the short, cold winter days. We’re able to get out and enjoy the outdoor activities we missed out on during the winter months, and maybe take some well-deserved liberty to enjoy time with friends and family.

For Navy families, summer can also be a transitional period with Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, deployments and other changes that can increase stress. Navigating these transitions can be difficult if you are not connected to the right support. Luckily, the Navy has resources to make these transitions a bit easier to manage, equipping you with predictability and controllability during the chaos. Online resources and services from military partners can also help Sailors and their families stay cool while navigating summertime stressors.

Navigating the Stress of PCS Moves

PCS moves can make you feel scared, excited, anxious, and hopeful all at once. Thoughts of picking up and moving to a new place, interrupting your routine, having to find childcare or school options for the kids, losing your social circle and disrupting your connections can be overwhelming. These tips and resources can help you find balance, stay connected and minimize PCS stress:

  • Utilize the Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) at the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC). It has numerous resources to help Navy families navigate a big move, including its Sponsorship program which pairs you with someone similar in rank and family structure prior to your move.
  • Get step-by-step prep tips from Military OneSource’s Plan My Move, a tool that gives Service members a custom plan and calendar of all the things to think about and do prior to a PCS move.
  • Reach out to someone who can relate. The BeThere Peer Support Call and Outreach Center’s peer counselors provide a listening ear to Sailors and families, offering customized tips, support and perspective during difficult situations such as deployments, moves, relationship challenges, career issues, and other every day stressors. Connect with them online at betherepeersupport.org, by phone at 1-844-357-PEER (7337) or via text at 480-360-6188.

Continuing Psychological Support

If you are currently receiving treatment, maintaining a relationship with a mental health care provider is essential, especially after a PCS move or major transition. Change can be challenging, but the process of transitioning your care doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips:

  • Inform your current provider of the upcoming move. Discuss your progress and work together to determine what goals to implement with your new provider. If you are on medications for psychological health, make sure that you have enough to get you through the time before meeting with a new provider.
  • If transitioning to a non-military provider, be sure to sign a release of information with your current provider so that the new provider can understand your history and offer the appropriate care.
  • Let the inTransition program help you make the switch to a new provider after any kind of move within or even outside of the Navy. The program connects Sailors with a personal coach who can make the move easier by providing support, locating resources, and helping connect them to their new provider.

Preparing for Deployment – Before and After

Deployments can be challenging for Sailors and their families alike, whether preparing for an upcoming deployment or adjusting to everyday life after returning home. These resources can help you and your family prepare for what’s ahead, whether it’s your first deployment or your fifteenth:

  • Military OneSource’s Military Deployment Guide has information, tips, and check-lists to help prepare for deployment, navigate life during deployment, and reintegrate after the return home.
  • Take advantage of family counseling available through your local FFSC. Their trained counselors can offer support for Sailors and families navigating the stresses of deployment and reintegration, and can provide referrals for any additional services that may be needed.
  • Learn more about Navy Operational Stress Control’s new Navigating Stress for Navy Families training, which helps Sailors and their families understand how to better navigate stress, including the stress that may be associated with deployment.

Finding More Information and Resources

Get familiar with the programs and services aboard your new installation or in your new community ahead of time. Head to the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website to help you locate everything from barber shops and libraries, to medical and dental clinics with one quick search.

Military OneSource’s website also has sections about deployment, family, and moving that offer a wealth of strategies and support resources to help prepare for and navigate the many twists and turns of military life. And, because adults aren’t the only ones who experience stress from these twists and turns, check out Military Kids Connect; an online community designed specifically for military children between ages six and 17.

Reaching Out for Help

While stress is a normal part of life and can help us build resilience, too much stress or prolonged exposure to it can have severe impacts on our daily function and psychological health. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength. The Military Crisis Line offers confidential support and is available 24/7 online, by phone at 1-800-273-8255 or by text at 838255.

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

What’s Next? Navigating Transitions, Pt. 4

Though we recognize their strength, resilience and contribution every day, each April our Armed Forces and the entire nation honors military kids with the milchildMonth of the Military Child.

It’s often said that military children serve right alongside their parents. They endure many of the same transitions: navigating separation during deployment (or geo-bachelor tours), adapting to life when that parent leaves and returns home, frequent moves, making new friends, adjusting to new surroundings, and more. Though they tend to keep a smile on our faces and often help positively shape others’ perspectives, sometimes it’s difficult to determine how children are processing the latest changes in their lives—even the familiar ones (like moving!). The presence of protective factors can help lessen the negative effects of stress on children and families alike, building family resilience. Help your kids and family apply the 5 Principles of Resilience (Predictability, Controllability, Relationships, Trust and Meaning) to thrive through transition periods with these quick tips:

  • Connect with the community (Relationships). Helping your kids get involved in social and extracurricular activities will lessen the stress of making new friends and getting acclimated with a new place, while providing a positive environment for expression. Social activities and peer connections can also be confidence-builders; military kids are often admired by their peers for their adaptability, sacrifice, and the “cool places” they’ve lived. A sense of belongingness is important!
  • Explore their feelings (Predictability, Controllability, Trust). There are a lot of unknowns with deployments and PCS moves alike. Sit down with your children and explore their apprehensions. Making a plan for communication when a parent will be in a different location, teaching them about their new community and having open discussions can help kids regain a sense of control and promote trust. Get them excited about their upcoming changes while letting them know what to expect. They’re more likely to adjust better to their new phase of life, and you’ll have more peace of mind.
  • Set an example (Meaning). Kids look up to their parents in challenging times, but that doesn’t mean you have to be superhuman! It’s important to show children that life’s changes bring new opportunities and that setbacks are only temporary. Help them see the positives, while trying to remain level-headed. Lean on the support of friends and family, faith or laughter as medicine for stress relief. This will help your children learn positive ways to navigate stress and find greater meaning in life’s twists and turns.

Most importantly, remind your kids that you admire their strength. Thank them and tell them you love them. Whether facing a change or navigating daily life, nurturing and affection are important protective factors at all times. Salute your Military Child!

What’s Next? Navigating Transitions Pt. 2

Whether it’s welcomed or unexpected, change isn’t always easy—but it’s always Transitions2an opportunity for growth. Zeroing in on the present may help you avoid stress and keep you focused on the mission at hand, but that avoidance may become a normal practice on and off the job, especially when facing a major transition. Perhaps you’ll be leaving your current command for an upcoming PCS, IA deployment, or for other reasons; or you’re facing retirement or leaving the Navy. Even in unfamiliar situations, Controllability and Predictability can help you navigate new waters and thrive in your next phase of service or life.

One way to gain a sense of control and prepare for any transition is to start making connections and networking. If you’re going to PCS, think of someone that you can reach out to when things get stressful. Give him or her a heads up that you’ll be moving and ask if they will help you get connected within your new community. The Sponsor Program can also help you and your family get linked into your new unit and community, while your local Relocation Assistance Program can help simplify your move.

Sailors who aren’t in transition can help those who are by checking on that person regularly to see how things are going. They’ll appreciate a trusted friend having their back, and your perspective might help them get a better grasp on what lies ahead. Leaders can help as well. Send personal introductory letters or emails to a new check-in’s family and ask about their specific needs or questions. Building that relationship early on will help families feel comfortable speaking up if they have concerns about their Sailor that leadership may not otherwise detect. A supportive and welcoming command environment can help ease the transition process.

Proactive preparation can also help reinforce a sense of control and predictability. Whether you’re a first timer or a pro at deployments, planning is crucial to help you and your family manage logistics and shape expectations in advance. The excitement of coming home can be stressful as well, especially with the change in pace when reintegrating back into family life. Check out this Real Warriors feature for tips to consider when reconnecting with family and friends.

Perhaps the most anxiety-producing transition is preparing for life after the Navy. Navy’s Transition GPS can help with pre-separation questions. You can also take proactive measures, like learning how to “de-militarize your resume,” in order to take some of the stress out of the next phase in life. Speaking with friends who have already retired or separated and are thriving in their new careers can also ease anxiety—and help get you connected.

With any change, the Relationships you build will help carry you through life’s challenges. Having the support of others, controlling what you can and preparing for the predictable can help take the stress out of the next chapter.  Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin

What’s Next? Navigating Transitions, Pt. 1

Transitions are an inevitable part of life, especially for Sailors. Even the most Transitions1anticipated transitions can bring about as much stress and fear as they do excitement (recall your first months in the Navy or the birth of a child). Transitions encompass everything from a leadership change, to marriage, divorce/break-ups, Permanent Change of Station, deployment, and retirement/separation from service. Each of these situations presents an opportunity to adapt to new circumstances, building resilience. Yet they may also interfere with your usual strategies for navigating stress.

You may be leaving your support network including friends, shipmates and leaders that you’ve come to trust and confide in, or feel like you’re going to be outside of your comfort zone in a new environment or phase of life. Maybe your upcoming transition will impact your finances or time management, or maybe you’re facing a major lifestyle change by leaving a geographic area that particularly suited your family’s needs. Even with smaller transitions, like career advancement, your existing fitness and wellness routines may be disrupted (including diet and nutrition). Regardless of the type of transition, recognizing that life will be different can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you encounter an unfamiliar situation or are managing multiple changes. It’s important to step back and evaluate how you can set yourself up for success in any situation. The 5 Principles of Resilience (Predictability, Controllability, Relationships, Trust and Meaning) can help you, your family and your command be more prepared, manage expectations, stay connected—and thrive.

In the upcoming weeks as a part of our NavyTHRIVE campaign, we’ll be discussing ways that Sailors, leaders and families can successfully navigate the various transitions that may be encountered during a Navy career (including the transition between a Navy and civilian career). We’ll also address how to recognize and assist a shipmate who is having difficulty navigating change, intervening before their struggles escalate into a life or emotional crisis. One critical key to success is a supportive command climate, with cohesion and open communication.

Stay tuned for our next post in the “What’s Next? Navigating Transitions” series when we discuss how to leverage Predictability and Controllability to help you make your next move your best move. Until then, remember “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” —Richard Bach

This post originally appeared in LifeLink, the Navy Suicide Prevention Program Newsletter. To subscribe to this monthly publication, email suicideprevention@navy.mil or visit the LifeLink Newsletter webpage.