PCS’ing – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Janet McIntosh, Army spouse and PCS expert

Janet McIntosh, Army spouse and PCS expert

The following post is the first in a series by Janet McIntosh, Army spouse, that will be featured on uShip’s blog over the following months. Janet will be covering the topic of Permanent Changes of Station, or PCS, and her insights and tips for making this daunting process a smooth one. We are excited to welcome Janet’s perspective to uShip’s blog as someone that has experienced this complicated process first-hand.

Hi, there! My name is Janet, and like many of you, I’m a military spouse.  My husband currently serves in the United States Army.  I know I don’t have to tell you about all the ups and downs that come with a life in the military, but let’s talk about Permanent Change of Station (PCS’ing).  One of the most trying things we go through as military families is moving.  Like you, I have had to do my fair share of moving.  In the past 17 years, we have moved seven times and each time was a unique experience in so many ways.

Think about your first move.  You were a young spouse, and it may have been the first time you had ever moved in your life.  You had no idea what was really going on and just went with the flow.  You didn’t know what a dislocation allowance was or a DITY move.  You just rolled with the punches and signed whatever you were told to sign.  When the movers showed up, you watched them pack your possessions and drive away.  You were shocked and outraged when you began to unpack your things and found broken frames or damaged furniture.  You didn’t have the first clue as to how to file a claim and maybe you just threw your hands up and let it go, saying to yourself that you were going to replace that sofa someday soon anyway.  It may have been a bad PCS, but you learned lessons and made note of the things you would do differently.

Let’s fast-forward a few years.  You have a couple of PCS moves under your belt.  Maybe each one seems to get a bit easier.  You finally have the terminology down and have a somewhat better grasp of what paperwork needs to be done and what benefits you are entitled to.  Dislocation allowance actually means something to you now!  You have come to expect some of the same things from each move.  You know how to handle the movers but ultimately know that something will be broken on the other side of this journey.  You are probably able to file a claim now with ease and replace some of the items that didn’t make it.  Overall, it is a good PCS. No major mishaps and nothing too stressful.  You begin to think, “Hey, I got this!”

At this point, when orders come down, you feel prepared enough to take on this PCS.  You are now that seasoned spouse who thinks they have all the bases covered.  You have a plan A, B, and C.  Nothing can go wrong, right?  Ha!  Yes, it can!

PCS Moving with uShip

This is when you have the “ugly” PCS.  It’s that one move that feels like you’re stuck in a nightmare and just can’t seem to pinch yourself hard enough to wake up and it just be over. I recently went through the “ugly” move; I say “the” because I hope and pray that we only ever have one truly horrid PCS.  This PCS was supposed to be smooth sailing for us.  We wound up in a hotel for 45 days!  I mean, the people working at the La Quinta Inn might as well be family now.

Thanks to this recruiting duty assignment, we now found ourselves in a remote location with the closest installation being two hours away.  This brought a whole slew of new problems I had never experienced before.  I had to get my daughter enrolled in school, which, for the first time, was the craziest experience of my life.  Normally this was the easiest part of a PCS for me, but not this time, not during the “ugly” PCS. Basically, everything that could go wrong did!

Maybe you have survived your “ugly” move already.  Maybe you are just starting your military journey, and I have just scared the pants off of you.  Don’t fret, because no matter how good, bad, or ugly the PCS move is, I have always learned valuable lessons, and they have made me a better person in the long run.  Now, with the help of uShip, I want to help you by passing those lessons along, so maybe you won’t ever have to go through the “ugly” PCS at all.

This upcoming blog series will give you new insights into PCS’ing with helpful tips, great resources such as uShip for Military, and most of all, the relief in knowing you are never alone in this.

-Janet