Permanent Change of Station (PCS) Tips From a Veteran Mover

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves are a common part of military life, and fortunately the military does a good job of providing information and guidance to help get you through the process.

Anyone who has undergone a PCS move or received reassignment orders likely knows some of the resources available to facilitate your relocation. Move.mil is a site that has information on setting up your whole move online,covering everything from detailed information on who to contact to weight allowances for the shipping of personal goods.

Militaryonesource.mil, a great resource for any military information, has a “Plan My Move” section, which, according to the site, “provides you with access to information about your entitlements and benefits, to points of contact, checklists, planning tools, and information on education and employment.”

A U.S. Army Captain* who has undergone PCS moves 5 times says, “The process is pretty easy. They dumb it down for you and do a pretty good job taking care of you.”

Despite being walked through the basics, there are certainly some aspects of the process you may not be aware of. Here are three tips from a veteran mover.

Take Advantage of PTDY
PTDY, or permissive temporary duty, is a 10-day military leave granted for the purpose of house hunting to coincide with a PCS move. It can be requested any time after receiving reassignment orders, though your commander has the option to grant or reject your request.

You are not eligible for per diem or travel expenses during that time, but you will not be charged leave time so you can explore your future duty station and the surrounding areas looking for your next home without burning up your valuable days.

Lean on Your Sponsor
Each of the military services has a sponsorship program that you can request through your unit. Through this program, you will be assigned a sponsor from your new unit that will be the same rank and marital status as you (or as close as possible), and will assist you with acclimating to your new location.

The Army Captain said he used his sponsor as his “eyes and ears on the ground,” and that you should rely on yours to relay the best areas to live in, and what to expect from your new unit and surroundings.

Military Installations, a DoD sponsored source, explains some of the reasons for the sponsorship program. The goals of the program are to: “reduce culture shock, help newcomers make informed decisions, cultivate new friendships, [and] improve morale.”

Use a JAG
Military service members have free legal counsel at their disposal whenever desired in the form of military lawyers known as Judge advocates (JAG). Legal assistance offices are located on nearly every ship and at every base, so if there is anything in a lease or mortgage that you do not understand, you can consult a JAG.

JAGs can offer help in legal and non-legal matters ranging from purchasing a car to renting an apartment, buying a home, paying taxes or writing a will, according to military.com. Don’t hesitate to seek out legal guidance if you need to break a current lease or negotiate terms with a landlord.

*The U.S. Army Captain requested anonymity in this article.

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