Moving in the Military 101

Moving in the Military 101

Military woman is sitting outside her home

Moving and the military, where to begin? There is so much to be done before you start military training. You’ve got questions like, “Will the military pay me to move?” You have paperwork that has to be filled out, packing has to be done, and remaining patient and organized through and through is important. Whether you’re new or now a pro at moving, I have several tips and advice on moving in the military, and more specifically moving into the army.  

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PCS and ETS 

PCS or (Permanent Change of Station) is basically a military assignment for 2-4 years. It can be either CONUS which is within the U.S. or OCONUS which is outside the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories.
With much power comes much responsibility; thus, becoming organized before your PCS move is important. One main thing to do is to keep a binder of all paperwork needed for your move or to make bookmarks of the websites you’ll need to save for your move. 

The Department of Defense has a lot of resources on its website of the paperwork needed for a PCS move. 

All five of these resources have helped and continue to help new military personnel stay organized and ready to make their move. Waiting last minute only causes unneeded stress, so staying on top of your paperwork whether online or on paper is essential. 

Now, what do I do if it’s time for my ETS?

ETS is basically the expiration of the term of service for someone who was enlisted in the Army and/or Air Force. After enlisting for several years it is time to pack up your things and return to civilian life, so how do you start this process? You also have an option to re-enlist if you choose to do so.
But like anything it’s time to plan, so the Department of Defense outlined several tips and tricks on how to prepare to leave the military.

The first tip is to start resume building, job searching, and career planning.
There are various resources online for these steps such as LinkedIn premium, which military personnel can use for up to one year for free.
You also should start asking questions about the VA’s health benefits.
Health insurance is a necessity, and before you ETS it is advised to get your ducks in a row regarding this.

Next, be sure to get all of your medical records organized. Knowing your conditions and or ailments is essential, especially when you are preparing to find a new clinic and doctor to go away from the military.
You’re also probably wondering, does the military pay for you to move? (There is a section on this topic close to the end of this post). Overall yes, but specifically for ETS you will need to check to see if you qualify for separation pay. Once these steps are complete, your ETS move should go smoothly.
If you need to check on specific dates or a timeline on when you should start preparing for an ETS move be sure to check your resources and/or talk to someone at an installation office.

Interview with Army veteran Mekhi Thomas 

In hindsight, Army veteran Mekhi Thomas, 25, shared her personal experience with both her ETS and PCS move. 

“I didn’t have a normal ETS experience. I flew back home in October because I got out of the military. My last day was November 1, and instead of me waiting for my stuff to get back to the mainland and carrying on with my life, I turned around not even a month later and went back to Hawaii.” 

Thomas was stationed in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii when she enlisted.

“They don’t ship your vehicle directly to your home. You have to pick it up from one of the vehicle processing centers, and I think mine went to Missouri, so my mom had to go get it.”

It’s a long, tedious process moving out of the military.

Since Thomas did not have regular ETS experience, her other military story is quite unique.

 “At one point I thought my car got stolen, I’m not going to lie. They didn’t inform me that in order for my car to get to me they’d have to put it on the back of a truck and ship it to California. So my car is on the back of a truck, an 18-wheeler, going down the highway, through Alabama, so I reported my car stolen. Long story short, my car was not stolen. They put it on the back of a truck and drove it to California from Atlanta and had it shipped to Waikiki, Hawaii. I hated it.” 

Thomas also discussed her PCS experience. “Now PCS is a whole different ball game. You’ll have a report date for basic training. You’ll report on that date and go through basic training and you will PCS from wherever you’re stationed. I was stationed at Fort Jackson so I PCS from Fort Jackson, South Carolina to Fort Lee, Virginia. The first PCS only consisted of paperwork. Now for me, I went from Fort Lee to Hawaii. I had to fill out so much paperwork, like telling them if I needed household goods or if I didn’t need them. My orders had to be amended because when I left AIT I went home for two weeks and got married. They had to reroute my orders so my spouse could come to my duty station. So I did not have a normal PCS experience.” 

TSP (Transportation Service Provider)

What else is needed in a military move? Well, the government also supplies veterans with TSP, also known as a transportation service provider.
These workers will come and move all of your household goods if you choose to do so to your station. Again, there are some steps on how this process can occur smoothly.
Here’s a specific one- make a packing list for your electronics. Inventory of important items such as laptops, computers, etc., is important so those things do not get forgotten or destroyed during your move.
One tip is to take a picture of each electronic item for the TSP inventory sheet. You’ll also need to write down the item’s serial number next to the picture on the form. 

In addition, please be certain that all your goods are free from mold.
For the health of yourself and the movers helping you move, work with your TSP movers after your move to help remediate any mold seen after your move to your station. 

Moving during a PCS or ETS move in the military

Money and the military. Do they pay for you to move? 

Like Mekhi Thomas said when you are moving in the military you do not need to pay for them to move your things. What a relief, phew!
From 2020, the Department of Defense will reimburse those moving into the military 100 percent with an added 3 percent of the cost of moving. It sounds great but you still have work that needs to be done.
Keep track of your time. Time management is key.
Before you move, begin to plan out on paper what you’ll need to bring or throw away. Be sure you keep all essentials and throw out anything that you don’t need.
Keeping an inventory is going to be your best friend. 

Mainly, throwing away things you don’t need is going to help tremendously. Over the course of this process, plan to get rid of anything you don’t need.
Anything not wanted or needed or used needs to go in the trash. Remember if you don’t need or use it, throw it away.
Moving to a new base can be a smooth process if done correctly.

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Think of five positive reasons why you’re moving 

Getting into the military and moving into it takes a lot of effort and energy. Learning how to organize and strategize your move is something that is integral during this harrowing process.
The first thing I’d say is take a deep breath and realize that you’re taking a huge step in moving. 

It’s scary, it’s a new experience, and it’s going to be tough at first. However, learning to process these emotions and face them is what to do.
There is always going to be a trial or situation that comes up but learn how to handle it with grace.

Secondly, think of the opportunities set in place for when you get to your destination. After all of the headache and paperwork, you get to your station and you’re ready to embark on a new adventure.
What will you face? Who will you meet?
And what comes next? These are just a few of the many questions running through your head. Learn how to also embrace those feelings and just relax and enjoy the fact that you’re embarking on a new adventure. 

Remember your purpose for your military move

What is your goal for being in the military and/or what do you seek to learn or accomplish? It’s always important to keep the answer to these questions in the forefront of your mind.
Are you wanting to gain more combat skills? Do you wish to learn more about artillery and weaponry?
Are you wanting to be more patriotic towards your country? Please remember to ask yourself these questions because once you enlist it’s a commitment for that set time period. 

Fourth, stay organized through the moving process.
It’s been said before- the early bird catches the worm, so always stay prompt and ready for any changes that come your way.
Learning to handle stress and stay organized during a move is key as was said before.
Your spreadsheets and inventory lists will always come in handy during a military move.

Lastly, staying away from negative energy is going to be your lifesaver during this process.
Remember to not only stay away from the naysayers but remember to surround yourself with pleasant and peaceful people during your move. You won’t regret it.