PCS Guide

     We all know how hectic PCS’ing can be in the Army, so we here at Army Wife Network wanted to try and help make your next PCS goes as smooth as possible for you by giving you some helpful links and information.  The most important part of any PCS is to stay organized!  Make sure you keep lots of copies of your soldier’s orders on hand (The golden number is 10).

     Typically, when we find out it is time to PCS our first thought is, “Where are we going?”?  Well, once you find out where your next “home” will be it is time to start researching and learning as much as you can about your next duty station, wherever that may be.  These links are a great resource to help you collect as much information as possible about your next duty station.

Military Installations
www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil

Military.com
http://benefits.military.com/misc/installations/Landing_Page.jsp

MilitaryAvenue.com
www.militaryavenue.com

You also want to stop by Military Homefront’s Plan My Move website.  We have included a link below.  This site will not only give you tons of information about your new duty station, but it will also enable you to enter your dates and print out a customized calendar that can tell you step by step when you should be doing what.  This is a great tool to have on hand during a hectic PCS and it helps you remain organized which is very important.

Military HomeFront’s Plan My Move
www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/moving

On-Post or Off-Post      The next step in the process is deciding if you want to live on-post or off-post. Each option has its own pros and cons.  You have to decide what option is best for you and your family.  Should you decide to live on-post, here are some resources that can help you find out more about your on-post housing and help you get in contact with the housing office on your new installation.  Make sure you call as soon as you have your orders since some installations may have a lengthy waiting list to get housing.

Army Housing Online User Services
https://www.housing.army.mil/ah/

If you decide to live off-post there are also some great resources out there to help you find a new home.  These sights listed below can help you find a home to rent or buy, whichever you prefer.

Free Military Listings
www.militarylistings.com/housing/

Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN)
www.ahrn.com

Hot Pads
www.hotpads.com

Military Homes
www.militaryhomes.com

Military By Owner
www.militarybyowner.com

Local Military Homes
http://localmilitaryhomes.com

Military Town Advisor
http://militarytownadvisor.com

USAA’s Home Circle for members
www.homecircle.com

Transportation     Next, you will need to talk with your soldier and decide if you want the Army to move your family and your household goods, or if you would like to do what the Army calls a DITY (Do It Yourself) Move.  In a DITY move the government will reimburse you the cost of moving yourself.  You are entitled to travel allowance, per diem, and mileage under the DITY program. Should you decide to do a DITY move, you should visit the Military.com link below to find out all you need to know about this type of move or speak with a transportation agent at your current installation.

Military.com DITY Move Information
http://www.military.com/money/partner/pcs-dity-move/dity-move-part-1.html

Now, if you decide to let the Army transport your household goods, you will start working with transportation to set up your dates and times for your movers to show up and pack your stuff, you will find that transportation has gone completely computerized.  They now use a new site, which we have included the link below, to set up the transportation of your household goods.  Your transportation agent will go over this system with you and explain to you how to set up your account and such.  This is the same website you will use once you get to your new installation to make claims for damaged or lost property.

Official DPS (Defense Personal Property System) Portal
http://www.move.mil/

Finances         The next step in preparing for your PCS move is to make sure your finances are in order.  It is important to create a budget and to begin putting money away now so you are prepared for anything that may happen, and believe me, during a PCS, a lot can happen!  You can build a budget at Military Homefront’s Plan My Move website.  You can find out more information about entitlements and allowances at the Defense Travel Management Office.  We have provided the link below and we have included a brief description of some of the entitlements you may be eligible for.

Defense Travel Management Office
http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/index.cfm

Dislocation Allowance (DLA) – DLA is provided to partially reimburse the soldier for expenses incurred during a PCS or due to an evacuation.  You may receive part of DLA prior to moving.  Your soldier can accomplish this by contacting the finance office on-post.

Mileage Allowance – The government will reimburse the soldier for using their private vehicle to PCS or go on TDY – Temporary Duty. The soldier is reimbursed based on a rate per mile formula rather than the actual cost of operating the vehicle. Make sure you maintain all gas receipts during your PCS. We have provided a receipt pocket for you to keep them in.

Per Diem Allowance – This is the allowance provided to pay for the meals and lodging of a soldier during a PCS or TDY.  Make sure your soldier keeps all receipts just in case.

Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) – This is an allowance that is provided to offset the cost of lodging and meals for a soldier and their dependents when they need to occupy temporary lodging in the states prior to departing their losing station or when arriving at their gaining station.  This basically means if you need to stay in a hotel right before you leave your current installation or if you need to stay in a hotel when you first arrive at your new installation. Make sure you maintain all lodging and food receipts.  We have provided a receipt pocket in this chapter for you to keep them in.

You will also want to begin to prepare your family for the upcoming trip.  Make sure you prepare for your PCS trip by keeping track of all dates and have an approximate timeline.  Will you be flying or traveling by car?  If going by car, how long of a trip is it?  Will you need lodging along the way?  It is important to ask yourself these questions when planning your trip and your budget.

Tricare     At this point, you are diligently preparing your home and your family for your upcoming PCS.  You may be wondering what you need to do to with your Tricare insurance.  Well, you are right!  You do need to do something. You need to transfer your benefits to your new location, but this is as easy as a phone call.  All you have to do is contact a Tricare representative in your service area and let them know you are moving and where you are moving to.  We have included the numbers for each region below.  Your Tricare representative can contact the new region and begin your enrollment transfer.  A representative from the new service region will contact you five days prior to your arrival at your new duty installation. Just in case, you still have the phone numbers below in case you have to call them.

North: 1-877-874-2273
South: 1-800-444-5445
West: 1-888-874-9378

If you are moving overseas you can visit the link provided below to find your country and a special toll free number you can call for your country.  http://www.tricare-overseas.com/ContactUs/ContactLATAM.html

The most important thing to remember is not to disenroll from any plan before you move, that way you are covered while traveling.  When you get to your new location, make sure you update your address and phone number in DEERS.

Pets     You may also be wondering about your pets.  Sometimes with all the stress of moving we forget about our pets.  If you will be living on-post at your next duty station you will need to contact the housing office there and find out how many pets are allowed in housing on-post and what are their breed restrictions.  Not every breed is allowed on installations and this policy differs from installation to installation so be sure to ask housing to be sure of what the policy is on your new installation.

You will also need to make arrangements for your pet while traveling. If your pet is traveling with you, you will have to make sure your lodging accommodations are pet friendly.  We have included a great site below that will help you find pet friendly hotels all across the country.

Pets Welcome
www.petswelcome.com

Military One Source also offers some great tips and advice when traveling with a pet.  If you are traveling overseas with a pet, we have provided you with some links below that will give you information on how to travel with your pet overseas.

Military One Source
Click on Moving, Planning a Move, and then Your Pet and Relocation
www.militaryonesource.mil

Military.com
Look under Relocation/PCS/Moving, and then PCS Travel Arrangements for Pets
www.military.com

Preparing for the Movers

Now you will have to prepare your home for the move. If you have chosen to have the government move you then you will probably have an inspection date with the movers.  This just means that a representative from the moving company will come to your house to take a look at how much stuff you own.  They use this information to estimate how many boxes they may need and how many large furniture items you have and such.  Make sure you show them everything, and don’t forget rooms such as your attic, basement, and outside storage areas.  Some moving companies may try to do this with you over the phone. If that is the case, make sure you give them as much information as possible.

Once you have had your inspection you will want to do some small things to prep your home for the move.  These are some suggested tips to help make this experience easier for you and easier on your moving company.

  • This is a great time to start to go through stuff and decide what you don’t need any more.  Have a garage sale or donate items to your local consignment shop or goodwill.
  • Make sure you keep a household inventory of your items.  Keep track of what you own.  Take pictures of expensive and high value items.  Make sure you have a log of all model and serials numbers for all the electronics in your home.  Everything from your televisions, computers, to digital cameras.
  • Take everything off the walls.
  • Empty out all drawers and cabinets – these are easy places for movers to forget to look.  I always empty mine and then leave them open a little bit so me and the movers can see they are empty.
  • Designate one room in your home as a “No Entry Zone”.  Clear this room out completely.  The only things you place in this room are the things that are going with you on your trip to your next duty station.  For example, luggage, pet supplies, important documents, valuables, etc…  This is also a great room to keep animals while the movers are moving things in and out of the house.  Be sure to put a sign on the door to this room that says “No Entry”, this way movers remember that they do not go into that room.  If you have extremely valuable or priceless items that mean everything to you, I suggest you pack these items yourself and move them with you in the car.  Make sure you place those boxes in this room as well.  Make sure you keep some paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils and such in this room as well so you will have stuff to eat on and drink out of after the movers have packed everything.
  • You may want to keep toilet paper, blankets, pillows, your plastic kitchen supplies, a portable DVD player, toys and items to keep the kids occupied, and anything else you may need while waiting on your household goods at your next destination.
  • You may choose to pack some items back in their original boxes or in plastic bins.  This is fine but make sure you don’t seal any of the boxes or totes.  Let the movers do this.  If the movers are unable to inspect the contents and seal the box themselves, then they will not be responsible for the contents of that box.
  • Be aware that most moving companies will not transport candles, batteries, live plants, and liquids.  They will however pack non-perishables.  If you have any of these items you will have to make other arrangements to get them to your new home or give them away.
  • Make sure you keep all your important documents in your “No Entry” room.  This includes military paperwork, birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, shot records, school records, passports, drivers license, military ID’s, and any other important paperwork you may need to produce at your next duty station prior to your household goods showing up at your next destination.  You also want to keep important medications.
  • If you don’t own a cell phone, then make sure you keep one home phone with you in your “No Entry” room, so you will have a way to communicate at your new home while you are waiting on your household goods.
  • Make sure someone is watching the movers the entire time they are in your home.  If you feel they are not doing a quality job, do not be afraid to say something nicely.  They are being paid to take care of your household goods and get them to your next home safely and in one piece.
  • When it comes to providing your movers with lunch.  This is completely up to you.  You are under no obligation to buy them lunch.  I was raised by that motto, “I scratch your back you scratch mine”, and so for me personally, I typically buy 2 twelve packs of soda and a big pack of bottled water.  I also order pizza or run to a fast food restaurant and pick everyone up something to eat.  I always tell my movers before they start, that if they take care of me and my stuff, I will do the same for them.  That is just what I do but as I said, it is entirely up to you if you want to provide the movers with something to eat.  I would at least have stuff to drink on hand.  That is a long and exhausting job and they will at least need some water.
  • Make sure you do a complete walk through of your home before the movers leave to make sure everything has been packed and nothing was forgotten.
  • Make sure the movers have listed each item on your inventory.  Take a little bit of time to read through all paperwork and make sure everything is correct.
  • Make sure while the movers are loading boxes and furniture onto the truck that every item has an inventory sticker on it.  If not, point it out to the movers and make sure it is on your inventory.

Once you get to your next duty station and you have moved into your new home, simply contact the transportation office, they will provide the number to call on your paperwork, and give them the new address.  They will set up a time for the movers to bring your household goods to your new home.  On the day the movers show up, the same rules apply as when the movers packed your stuff.  Here are some things to remember:

  • Have a plan set-up with your new home.  This will help make everything easier when the movers are moving things in.  Some people use sticky notes.  You buy several different color sticky notes or dot stickers and place one color on each door or area in your house. As the movers bring items off the truck, you can tell them what color. This tells the movers that item will go in the room or area with the green sticky note or colored dot.  Show the movers the layout before they begin unloading.
  • Anything the movers took apart when they packed your home up, they are required to put back together in your new home.
  • Make sure you mark each item on the inventory as it comes off the truck.  Make sure you point out anything missing to the movers.
  • Once again, it is up to you whether or not you provide the movers with lunch.  Again, kindness can go a long way with the movers and at the very least you should have items on hand to drink.
  • Again, make sure you take time to read over all paperwork before you sign it.  Especially if items are missing.
  • Take pictures of all damaged items.  Try to keep them somewhere if possible.  Now the movers will send an inspector out to take a look at damaged items.  If you have pictures, that is acceptable and you will want to submit those with your claim online, but it is even better if the inspector can see the actual damage.
  • If you need to file a claim for missing or damaged items, you will be instructed to go back to the DPS website, www.move.mil to file your claim.  There will be directions provided on the website on how to file your claim.

Overseas Move

Some of you may be getting ready to make a move overseas.  Many of the same rules apply when moving overseas but there are some other steps that will take place when you move overseas.  Here we have given you a brief overview of what to expect.

Command Sponsorship     The first step in moving overseas is getting you and your children command sponsored to move overseas with your soldier.  This basically authorizes the soldier to travel with their dependents overseas and entitles the soldier to housing, temporary housing, and the movement of your household goods.  Your soldier can get all the command sponsorship paperwork done through their unit’s S1.  Army Wife Network also has a great page on command sponsorship that is located at the link below.    http://www.armywifenetwork.com/?page_id=3205

Relocation Assistance Office and Transportation Office

Once your soldier has received their orders moving you and your family overseas, you will want to contact the relocation office on your installation.  They will be a valuable source of information on your new overseas duty installation and will also be able to give you helpful advice on moving overseas and how to prepare.

The transportation office will be able to set up the moving of your household goods overseas.  The biggest difference between a stateside move and an overseas move is that your moving shipment can be broken down into two shipments.  One is your household goods shipment and this will be the bigger of the two shipments.  The other shipment is called unaccompanied baggage.  Unaccompanied baggage is a much smaller shipment of the items you will need right away when you get overseas.  Things such as dishes, towels, a television, sheets, clothing, etc… Each shipment has a weight limits just like when you move your household goods stateside, you have a weight limit.  Unaccompanied baggage will show up within 2-3 weeks of your arrival overseas and your household goods normally between 30 – 45 days of your arrival overseas.  Sometimes you may get your stuff sooner than anticipated and sometimes it could be a little bit later.  Make sure you stay flexible.  Most installations overseas have a lending closet at ACS that can help you if you need certain items while waiting on your household goods.

Housing     You may be wondering where you are going to live overseas.  Typically E-1 through E-6, are required to live on-post.  E-7 and above can be authorized to live in private rental housing off-post.  You will want to contact the housing office on your new installation to find out what rules are in effect and what your options are prior to moving.  If you are eligible or decide to live off-post the housing office will be able to assist you in finding housing off-post.  You can find the contact information for the housing office on your new installation by looking up your new duty station on www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.  If you are required or choose to live on post, you will want to ask the housing office if there is anything you need to do prior to moving to start that process.  They may want you to fax or email a copy of your orders and you may have to fill out some paperwork.

Entitlements     The biggest difference in the entitlements that you will receive once you arrive at your new overseas location is the TLE.  Instead of TLE you will receive Temporary Lodging Assistance (TLA).  It is basically the same entitlement, just with a different name.  You will receive this if you have to wait on housing to become available.  Just be sure to contact your housing office prior to moving.  Get in touch with them as soon as you arrive at your new duty station and work closely with them until you are able to get into a home, whether it is on-post or off-post. Make sure to keep all receipts, just like you would if you were making a stateside move.

Resources

Once again, make sure you keep all important documents with you at all times.  Use the resources you have been given throughout this guide and ASK QUESTIONS (also search “PCS” in AWN search bar for articles pertaining to common resources and faqs)!  Use the relocation assistance office, transportation office, and housing offices.  They will be your three main areas to get information from.  Military Homefront’s Plan my Move will be a very valuable resource – use it!  Military One Source is also a very reliable place for information and resources.

 

Sarge’s List PCS Guide developed by Military Spouses
2013PCSGuide
Brought to you from multiple spouses at SargesList who range from 18 years to 5 years in the military.
SargesList is a one stop portal for trusted military classifieds.
We hope this guide has been a help to you and has shown you how to stay organized throughout your PCS, whether it is a stateside move or an overseas move.  Just remember to take deep breaths and stay flexible!  Some moves will go smoother than others.  Some will be amazing and some will be nightmares.  Just learn the lesson each one provides you with and make adjustments for next time.  Once you have completed a PCS make sure you reward yourself with some relaxing time and give yourself a pat on the back for being the amazing Army Spouse that you are! Hooah!

(c) Army Wife Network, Janet McIntosh

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