Understanding the PCS
Military families PCS (“Permanent Change of Station” or, in civilian terms, “move”) approximately every three years.
Air Force families tend to PCS a little less frequently, while Army families tend to PCS a little more frequently. The stage of a service member’s career can influence PCS frequency, as can specific military job opportunities, deployment cycles, and other variables.
My husband is in a stage of his career that requires us to PCS more frequently than the average family. We arrived in Germany in May, and we’ll PCS again one year later. Thankfully, the next PCS is within Germany (moving internationally is a bigger challenge than moving inside a country is).
If we were civilians at the same stage in our lives (early 30s, good jobs, expecting our first child), we might be painting nursery walls or making sure our home were in a school district where we’d be comfortable sending our new baby to Kindergarten in a few years.
But we’re not a civilian family. We’re an Army family, and since Fall 2010, he’s averaged a PCS every 13.5 months. Since 2006, he’s spent more than three years deployed. When you subtract those years from his eight active duty, he’s had six duty stations in five years.
Managing the Craziness
If we were civilians, we might be painting nursery walls, considering school districts, or preparing our garden for spring. But we aren’t. We’re an Army family who’s PCSing again after less than a year — this time with a weeks-old daughter — so here’s what we are doing:
- We’re making the most of being together. (I’m so thankful for no impending deployments!)
- We’re staying on the same team, working together at home, with our daughter, with family, and in regards to move preparation.
- He’s staying in touch with his leadership in our current duty station as well as our next one for mentorship, for official orders, and for professional continuity.
- We’re planning for having an infant in the car, in Army lodging, etc. during the move (thank you Mom and Dad for the Pack & Play with the infant sleeper!!).
- We’re talking. A lot. We keep each other informed, and we share when what we’re feeling. This is important (new spouses, take note).
- We’re clearing the calendar: No trips, no house guests, and no new freelance clients for me during the 60 day window when we expect to PCS.
- Finally, we’re taking things one day at a time. There will always be unknowns surrounding PCSs and new duty stations. Letting those unknowns overwhelm us won’t help anything, so we roll with the things we do know and try to embrace the unknowns as best as we can.