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A Military Spouse’s Guide to Their First PCS

Your first PCS as a military spouse will be an exhilarating time! It brings with it a sense of adventure and accomplishment. On the other hand, it can also be a very stressful and emotional time as you leave this place behind.

Luckily, military spouses are a resilient group of people who are prepared to handle the changes a PCS will bring. Here’s how you can get through your PCS.

Decide How You’re Moving

Once your significant other receives their orders, the first stop they should be making is the Transportation Officer’s office to get more information on their new installation. At that time, they’ll learn about the options available to them for moving house: taking a do-it-yourself approach with reimbursement, known as a Personally Procured Move (PPM) or letting the military handle everything.

There’s lots to consider when making this decision. There are also lots of resources available to help you find what’s right for you, such as PCSmyPOV and services that offer discounts to military members. The pro of a PPM is that you can make a bit of extra money by taking this approach. The con is that you have the burden of planning the entire move on yourself.

Communication is Key

It’s important to have open communication with your spouse during this time so that you can work through all the things that need to be done and identify how to help one another. You may have questions about your new installation that your spouse can find out for you. Your spouse may need help getting all the paperwork in order for you and your family.

Like the military itself, this transition period will run smoothly with teamwork. Work together and speak openly, conveying your hopes and fears, frustrations and anticipation for this move.

Create a PCS Binder and To-Do List

A well-crafted PCS binder is a military spouse’s best friend during a PCS, be it their first or their fifth. This binder will act as a centralized location where you can store important documents, such as your dental and medical records, your birth certificates, your relocation orders, children’s school records, and so on. Essentially, everything you need to start your new life in a new place should be in that binder.

Having a to-do list of all the things you need to accomplish to get moving will also prove to be helpful during this process. You can also list resources, such as the contact information for the family care center at the new base to help you find your footing once you get there.

The Emotions of a PCS

Like many military spouses, you may be blindsided by the emotions you feel in relation to your first PCS. It’s a big change for all involved, and may sometimes stir up negative feelings about your spouse’s chosen career. Know that change is hard for everyone, and your feelings are temporary.

It’s worth noting that you may have an emotional experience every time you go through a PCS. Try to reframe it in your mind and look at the possibilities of experiencing a new location and making new friends.

Find a Home

One of the most emotionally taxing aspects of a PCS is finding a home. If you want to live on base, you should call right away, as there are often waitlists. If a home on-base isn’t available, you’ll need to consider other options, such as local military housing.

If you currently own a home, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to sell it and start that process while preparing for the relocation.

Remember, when times get tough lean on your network of support. The family resource center of your current and future installation will be able to help your family with the transition. Additionally, fellow military spouses who have been through this before can offer guidance and support.

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