Tips for a Low Stress PCS

Family packing for move

The PCS move is a process that impacts most military families on multiple occasions during a service member's career. There is no shortage of advice about how to make it easier online — packing tips, cross country travel, pros and cons of living on or off base, as examples. All of these tips are incredibly helpful, and to be honest, you can never get enough of them. Despite all of this incredible information, no matter how many times you have completed a military move, it seems there is one more thing to learn that you really wish you had known prior to the news that orders had been cut, again.

Here is a list of 4 things that you really need to know prior to your move, no matter if it is your first, tenth, or last PCS adventure.

Anticipate Damage or Loss

  1. The reality is that moving your belongings always means the possibility of damage or loss. It comes with the territory. However, it shouldn't mean that your belongings should suffer major damage, or worse yet, complete loss. But that has become a reality for many military families. Here are a few tips to help ensure that, at the very least, your most beloved possessions are safe when handing them off during a military move. Do a partial DITY and move all family heirlooms, videos, and pictures yourself. Some furniture, linens, dishes, and clothing can be replaced. Antique china, your children's baby books, or the piece of furniture from your childhood cannot be, no matter how much money you receive in compensation.
  2. Take pictures and videos of EVERYTHING. Prior to a move to make sure you document the condition of your property by taking pictures from multiple angles, and by taking video of appliances actually working. Video your washing machine in action, the coffee pot brewing, and the lawn mower doing its job, very close to the date movers arrive.
  3. Be vigilant when the packers and movers arrive. If you witness something being broken, make them stop immediately and document it in your paperwork. Also, for every single piece of furniture, ask them to show you where the damage is located and mark it on the sheet. If they cannot show you where a "scratch" is on your dining room table or if it is not in the picture you took the day before, refuse to sign the paperwork before they make the correction.

But You CAN Protect Yourself

Did you know that for less than $15 a month you can protect your property while you are renting AND during a PCS move? No doubt, you've heard horror stories of lost and damaged property, and subsequent stories of moving companies denying or underpaying claims for that property. Give yourself peace of mind during your next move with renter insurance from Armed Forces Insurance, the very best protection available for military families. Our insurance covers your belongings from theft, fire, vehicle accident, mysterious disappearance, etc. during a move. We offer consistent premiums on Property Coverage from state to state, it is worldwide, and we offer Comprehensive Coverage to include flood and earthquake with low deductibles. Additionally Armed Forces Insurance offers Replacement Cost Coverage, meaning there is no deduction for depreciation on replaced items.

The process is quick and easy. Visit www.afi.org to get your free quote today.

You May Need a Mental Health Check

Moving is not only physically taxing, it can take a toll on your mental health. Leaving friends and family at one location, worrying about how the children are dealing with change, and stressing over finding a new home at your next duty station can all lead to anxiety and even depression. Admitting that you are not handling the move perfectly and seeking help is important. You cannot help your family through this or be effective in navigating this life change if your mental health is suffering. Where do you seek help? Here are a few options you might consider.

  1. Reach out to another military family for advice. Sometimes just venting to someone who has been there, done that can be incredibly therapeutic. Many times another service member or military spouse can help you put things into perspective by sharing their own experiences, or just by lending a supportive ear.
  2. Reach out for professional help. It can be challenging to seek medical care during a move; leaving your current PCM at one location, transferring Tricare benefits, then finding a new PCM you trust at the new duty station. Luckily, mental health services do not require a PCM referral. Visit www.Tricare.mil for more information about professional counseling services.
  3. You don't have to go to an office to get mental health help. Military One Source now offers counseling services online, by telephone, and video. Visit www.militaryonesource.com for more information.
  4. If you or anyone in your family has thoughts of harming yourself or others, please call 911 and get immediate help. No PCS move stress is worth the life of someone in your family.

Some Things Are Simply Not Worth Stressing Over

You can't deny that moving due to military orders, again, is stressful. But many times it's the little things that are overwhelming, and when you look back on them later realize they were not worth the amount of worry you experienced. Here are a few examples of things you can spend less time stressing over when you move.

  1. Having a huge yard sale. Sure, getting rid of extra junk before the packers arrive is nice and can make things easier when you arrive at your new home. But going through every single one of your belongings, tagging and sorting, and spending an entire weekend having a yard sale may cause more stress than it's worth. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, have a yard sale with any big ticket items you have to sell, donate the smaller things, and wait until you get to your new location to do the rest. The reality is that when you move, you may have some free time on your hands while you look for a job or before you get involved in your community.
  2. Not finding a house right away. Sure, it is nice to arrive in your new town and have a house that first day. But most families find themselves staying in a hotel for a bit while they wait for base housing, or their home in town. If you find yourself in a holding pattern, take the time to get established in your community by finding a new church, volunteer opportunities, play groups, or attending activities on your new installation.
  3. Finding a new school for your kids. This is stressful, and as parents we worry about the transition from school to school when it comes to our children. Federal law now helps families during this transition. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children is designed to eliminate many of the concerns families have when they move. You can read more about it here.
  4. Getting everything unpacked right away. Certainly it is nice to have everything unpacked, put away, pictures on the walls, and curtains hung as soon as possible. But it's not realistic to have everything done right away, especially when you have small children. Take your time, unpack one room at a time starting with the kitchen, and spend some time getting out of the house to explore your new area. In May you might not need those winter coats for a while anyway, so letting them hang out in a box instead of a closet for a couple of months isn't the worst thing in the world.

About Armed Forces Insurance

Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) is the insurance company of choice for current and retired members of the uniformed services, their children, and Department of Defense civilians. Founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation, providing premium quality, competitively priced property and casualty insurance to military professionals throughout the Armed Forces. We know our members have unique circumstances and insurance needs, and we offer a level of personalized service that is unequaled in the industry-because Our Mission is YOU - and your peace of mind. The company also furthers our strong commitment to give back to military and local communities through important programs and sponsorships including the Great American Patriot Award at the Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year® Award, the Vetrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Military Warriors Support Foundation. In early 2015, AFI established the Armed Forces Insurance Foundation to assist in educating the military community on a wide array of key personal financial topics to help them succeed. For more information, visit the website at www.afi.org or call 800-495-8234, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.