Military Family Move

Understanding Military PCS: A Guide for the Uninitiated

Moving is a fact of life for military personnel and their families. In the world of the Armed Forces, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is a term that carries significant weight. It refers to the relocation of military personnel from one duty station to another, either within the same country or overseas. Let’s delve into what PCS entails and why it’s a crucial aspect of military life.

What is PCS?

PCS, or Permanent Change of Station, is a routine process within the military wherein service members are transferred to a new duty station. This could be due to various reasons such as operational requirements, career advancement, or the completion of a tour of duty. The move involves not just the service member but often their families as well.

The Process

The PCS process is complex and involves several key steps:

  1. Orders: It all begins with official military orders directing the service member to move to a new location. These orders outline the timeline, destination, and any special instructions.
  2. Preparation: Once orders are received, the service member and their family begin preparing for the move. This includes arranging for housing at the new location, organizing transportation, and ensuring all necessary paperwork is in order.
  3. Pack-Out: The military provides resources for packing and shipping household goods and personal belongings. This is typically handled by professional movers contracted by the military, but it can sometimes involve a Personally Procured Move (PPM) or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) move.
  4. Travel: Depending on the distance and location of the new duty station, travel arrangements may vary. For overseas moves, military flights or commercial airlines are often used.
  5. Settling In: Upon arrival at the new duty station, the service member and their family go through a settling-in process. This includes reporting to the new unit, finding housing if not already arranged, and familiarizing themselves with the new surroundings.

Challenges and Rewards

PCS can be both challenging and rewarding for military personnel and their families. On the one hand, frequent moves can disrupt routines, uproot families, and necessitate adjustments to new environments. On the other hand, PCS offers opportunities for personal growth, exposure to different cultures and regions, and career advancement within the military.

Support System

Recognizing the challenges of PCS, the military provides various support systems to assist service members and their families throughout the process. This includes relocation assistance programs, financial counseling, and resources for finding housing and employment for spouses.


In essence, PCS is more than just a relocation; it’s a fundamental aspect of military life that embodies adaptability, resilience, and the spirit of service. It represents the military’s commitment to deploying its personnel wherever needed while supporting their personal and professional development. Understanding PCS helps shed light on the sacrifices and opportunities inherent in military service, shaping the lives of service members and their families around the globe. If you or someone you know is transferring to or from the Phoenix area, please reach out to me as I have specialized training in helping active duty military with PCS moves.  I also provide cash back rebates to active duty military and veterans when buying or selling a home. Click here to learn more.

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