Last month, we discussed some important topics for those single Soldiers who would be leaving Fort Leonard Wood soon and heading to their first duty stations. Today, we’re going to talk more specifically about what married Soldiers might expect during their first PCS (permanent change of station) move with their family to their first duty station.
Housing – it is important to begin the housing process as early as possible by speaking to your new Platoon Sergeant or Company Commander. Every duty station is different and some required married Soldiers to live on or off the installation. Those in your gaining unit might also be able to connect you with the local housing office and provide you with some recommendations on areas to live, quality school districts, etc.
Spouse careers - if your spouse wishes to continue his or her career at your first duty station there are a number of resources available, including Hiring Our Heroes, Blue Star Families, and Military One Source. These organizations can help explain how licenses and certifications can be transferred across state lines or provide information on how to apply for reimbursement if new licenses and certifications must be obtained. They can also help with resume creation and connect you with local groups of professionally-oriented military spouses that can plug your spouse into a network at the duty station.
Household goods shipment – for Soldiers that are married, they are entitled to have their household goods moved from their home of record to their first duty station. Making these arrangements can be tedious, so it’s important to ask for help and ask a lot of questions, especially when it is your first time coordinating a move. It’s important that the Soldier and spouse are involved in the household goods shipment, so everyone is on the same page, too. Talk to others who have done this before and ask them what they’ve learned and what they’d do differently the next time.
Orders – every time you PCS, ensure you have 10-20 copies of your orders with you at all times. As you clear one installation and in-process at the new installation, undoubtedly people will ask you for a copy of your orders. Ensure that your spouse has additional copies, as well.
Schools – military children move from school to school frequently, but many things have changed over the past few years to make this a smoother process and provide students with a more consistent education. Familiarize yourself with the MIC3 and keep copies of your student’s records as you move from place to place. Though schools will request official records from previous schools, it never hurts to have work examples and your own copies of things like grade cards, test scores, education plans, etc. on-hand to give the gaining school an idea of what your student has been working on and what type of student he or she is.
Good mental health care practices - PCSing as a military family is stressful and overwhelming. Not only is it hard to coordinate the logistics, but there are many emotions wrapped up in moving away from family and friends and having to start life over again. Adults and children experience these emotions and sometimes they are expressed in a variety of ways – through angry outbursts, withdrawal from normal activities, and even physical illness. Military members and family members have access to mental healthcare services through TriCare and Army Community Service offers counselling services to military members and family members without keeping records of these visits. Military life is challenging; it is important to take advantage of the supports that are offered.
Moving to a new duty station can be fun and exciting, so prepare as best you can and then enjoy exploring a new area. Taste new food, try new activities, and meet new people because we guarantee that when it’s time to move again, you’ll miss those things that were once foreign to you. It is absolutely true that you will leave a piece of your heart at each duty station.