Moving? Know These Crucial Things During ‘PCS Season’

By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

It’s almost summer, which means for those in the military it’s prime PCS season – when hundreds of thousands of you make moves to new duty stations all over the world.

Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jim Remington

Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Jim Remington

Most military families will PCS several times in their lives. Whether it’s your first time or your fourth, it still entails a lot of preparation. The great thing is, there are many DoD websites (and, you know, Google) to help streamline the process and get you through it.

Here are some important things to know as you make those plans.

The Process

This might seem obvious, but start planning early. The time you have to move between duty stations varies by position and service from a few months to just a few weeks, so movers might not have a lot of availability when you need them.  Be flexible on your move dates (try to pick a few) and give as much notice to the movers as you can.

Also, know the resources available to you. Move.mil allows you to register in the Defense Personal Property System and weigh options for movers. PCSmyPOV.com streamlines the process of getting your vehicle to your new home.

Next, make a list of all of your belongings, and even take photos. Definitely identify high-value items, like jewelry, bonds and pricey collections. You might even want to take those with you instead of shipping them.

Know what you’re entitled to, too, like weight allowances, which vary by rank/pay grade and location, as well as what you actually need. For example, some bases have washers and dryers for everyone, so you might not need to bring yours. Some services might also not allow the shipment of things like canoes, kayaks and motorcycles, so be aware of your service’s rules on those things.

The Family’s Moving, Too

If you’re a service member with a family, just remember – it’s not just your household belongs that are starting over. It’s also your spouse, your kids and maybe your pets. So you want to make sure you pick the right community to live in, the right schools for your kids and the right child care. You can explore all of that through Military OneSource’s resources, which can also help you weigh the option of buying versus renting a new home, as well as finding resources to help you rent the home you already own.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

For advice on how to work with your kids and pets through the tough transition, you can read some of the blogs we posted about those topics in the past year – helping kids with transitions and prepping your pet for a move.

Health Care

Your eligibility for TRICARE doesn’t change when you move, but your plan options might. TRICARE has a special webpage to help you figure out what you need to know for your particular situation.  You can also watch this video on the easiest way to transfer your benefits:

When You’ve Finally Settled

When your move is done, remember to fill out the DoD’s Customer Satisfaction Survey. It’s only six questions, and it’s important to make sure the best shippers are available in the future.

“It actually makes a difference,” said Fred Rice, the public affairs director of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. “The moving companies that are rated low will not be granted further business if their ratings become too low. Those who are rated highly will receive more business. The result is a self-correcting system.”

And remember – the military moves about half a million shipments of household goods a year, so not everything always goes as planned. If that’s the case, there is a claims process for you to get compensated for lost or damaged goods.

If you have any extra questions, contact your local Traffic Management or installation Transportation Office. Otherwise, enjoy the new experience, and good luck!

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