Your family has moved (yet again) to a new base in a new city. After PCSing, you may feel like you’re starting over completely. A new house, new surroundings, and the absence of the people you counted on at the last duty station are guaranteed to be stressful.
How often military families move depends on the exact situation, but they’ll typically relocate every 2 to 3 years. Constant moves cause upheaval, but the upside is that military families can become very adaptable and good at making new connections.
If you’re a service member or spouse who has just completed a military PCS move, here are some tips to help you adjust to life at a new duty station.
Give Yourself Time to Rest
Prior to PCSing, there are so many logistics to consider: whether to move yourself or let the military move you, which records need to be transferred, how to say goodbye.
But afterward, once the boxes are (mostly) unpacked, once you’ve organized all your receipts for tax-deductible PCS expenses and done everything else on your military move checklist, you need to take a break.
It’s tempting to launch right into the activities that will make life feel “normal” again, but you should take a breather before you tackle anything else. Give yourself one weekend to sleep in and set aside all the things you “should” be doing.
Find Your People
As much as you miss the connections you made at the last duty station, there are always people who will help you feel welcome in your new home. If you’re inclined, you can start by looking into spouse groups at your new installation, or connect with a Family Readiness Group (FRG).
Join a community service group, visit a house of worship, and look for like-minded locals in Facebook groups. Use an online service like Meetup to find casual gatherings of people who share your interests. If you have kids, plug into a parents’ group at their new school and get them signed up for sports, music lessons, or other activities they enjoy.
Make a Bucket List
One of the benefits of PCSing is the chance to experience a new locale.
Pretend you’re a tourist visiting your new city/state. Search for the best sightseeing, ask locals for their must-eat foods, and make a bucket list with your family of everything you want to do and see over the next couple years.
Check in with your local Information, Tickets, and Travel (ITT) office to access military discounts to attractions like zoos, sporting events, historical sites and more.
Ask for Help
This directive comes from our blog post “Advice for Military Spouses by Military Spouses.”
No matter how unsettled you feel after PCSing, you’ll always be able to find someone who’s been there. Military families are accustomed to relying on a local network for assistance when their extended families are far away. Whether you need a last-minute sitter, a ride to the auto shop or just a piece of advice, don’t be scared to reach out and ask for help. You may be surprised by how people will come through in your time of need.