A lasting move related to military service, whether it’s due to a change in postings or due to retirement, is known as a permanent change of station, or PCS. Any PCS represents a big change for service men and women and their families, but keep in mind that other people survive these transitions all the time. There are a variety of factors that can influence parts of the PCS process, including when the move occurs and where the destination is, but no matter what your situation is, there are a variety of resources at your disposal to make everything simpler and easier.
Most military moves take place within the forty eight contiguous states (referred to as CONUS), although many service people and their families also move to Alaska, Hawaii, various U.S. territories, and other countries. The bulk of military moves take place between May and August each year, with the majority happening between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. For a CONUS move, you can make all the arrangements yourself (known as a do-it-yourself or DITY move), or you can allow the military to make the arrangements and do the packing and moving for you, or you can have a “partial-DITY” move, which is a combination of the two scenarios, usually meaning you transport some of your items and allow military movers to do the rest. If you choose the DITY or partial-DITY options, the government will reimburse you for your moving expenses, although the calculations can be somewhat confusing and the reimbursement may take quite a while to process. The government will also reimburse expenses for personal transportation (if you have to fly to your new destination, for example), and for any temporary housing you may require. If possible, it’s a great idea to put away money in a special savings account specifically for PCS, since you may have to pay for a lot of things before your reimbursement comes through. You may be able to request a pay advance to help for the move, but this is not available to everyone, and you should carefully consider your family’s entire financial situation before doing so.
It’s important to make reservations for pick-up and delivery of your items, as well as any packing services you may require, as soon as possible after you receive the official date for your PCS. It’s possible that your idea dates may be unavailable, especially if you’re dealing within the peak moving time period, so be prepared to build some extra time into your moving schedule. As you prepare for packing, take the opportunity to sort through your clothes, household goods, and other items to weed out things that are worn, broken, or no longer useful. If it’s not something you plan to use in the future, there’s no point in packing it up and moving it! You’ll likely need a weight estimate for anything that will need to be shipped long distance; a good rule of thumb is to assume one thousand pounds per room in your home, but a more accurate estimate may be necessary. If your items will be transported in separate shipments at different times, be doubly sure that everything is grouped correctly to avoid misplacement and other potential problems. If you are separating or retiring from the military, keep in mind that you may be eligible for storage and shipment of household goods for up to six months or a year, depending on the details of your situation.
The military and the Department of Veterans Affairs offer a host of resources for service personnel and their families going through PCS, including databases for schools and other amenities in the community where you will soon be living. If you are leaving a rental property and encounter any problems with your landlord, such as a broken lease or premature termination, help is available. (Always inform your landlord of your impending PCS as soon as possible to reduce the likelihood or severity of any issues.)
If your PCS is due to retirement or separation, there are many more things that must be completed during this process, including verifying that all of your military records are correct, making final healthcare appointments for you and your family, and creating a resume for post-military employment, but comprehensive guidance is accessible through the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
No matter the circumstances for your PCS, the transition will be much easier with a multitude of government resources at your disposal. And if you wish to purchase or build a new home as part of your PCS, look no further than Fortress VA Loans to take advantage of the VA home loan benefits your military service entitles you to. Our family of VA loan specialists and lenders are eager to help military service personnel quickly and easily obtain the financing to achieve their home owning dreams.