May 25, 2017, by David McCauley – Time spent serving in the U.S. military has one consistent factor: travel is inevitable. Moving is a way of life while serving on active duty, even from the very beginning of enlistment. It’s not an uncommon experience to fly from your home state to boot camp, then travel to your technical school, then your advanced technical school, then to your duty station. Routine training can involve traveling to different states if the exercise is large enough.
Even with help from Uncle Sam and his pocketbook, relocating is a trial for everyone involved. Moving to different states and countries to fulfill your duties often means long stretches away from family which compounds the difficulty, as well as the likelihood of many late night phone calls back home.
There are two things that help ease the burden of a big military move: relocation assistance and staying in touch with your family. One ensures that your financial needs are met while the other keeps up the morale of service members and their families.
The Relocation Readiness Program is intended to ease the burden on military families when duty calls them to new domestic or overseas locations. These programs give you access to approved moving services and companies as well as monetary allowances to help offset the costs of moving.
Most of the benefits you can take advantage of include:
- Dislocation Allowance
- Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation
- Move-In Housing Allowance
- Per Diem Allowance
- Temporary Lodging Allowance
- Temporary Lodging Expense
- Advance Basic Pay
- Advance BAH
- Advance Overseas Housing Allowance
Permanent change of station (PCS) can happen frequently across multiple enlistments. Planning early can prevent some of the headaches associated with moving.
Active duty Army soldiers who are PCS’ing are eligible to access Army Community Service (ACS) relocation services. This is in addition to PCS allowances. These benefits include the Dislocation Allowance (DLA), which is available for PCS in both the Continental United States (CONUS) and Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS).
It’s important to get assistance especially if this is your first PCS or if you are moving overseas. There are often classes and workshops available on military installations that you can find more about at the Military and Family Support Center or Fleet and Family Support Center.
Staying in Touch
Moving in 2017 is much different than in decades past, and most of this is due to technology simplifying transportation. Many moving companies have integrated applications that let you track the progress of your move. If you’ve already received a lodging allowance or other moving-related allowances, you can use this to stay in hotels while traveling to your final destination.
Phone providers like T-Mobile offer military discounts on phone plans for service members, as well as perks like free in-flight texting and access to wi-fi. This can make the distance from family more bearable as well as ensure that you can stay in touch with moving companies and your command.
It isn’t uncommon for a command to book commercial flights for service members during PCS, but in some cases, it may be preferable to drive. It’s easy to find military-friendly hotels cross-country via a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet, and many hotels feature mobile check-in as well. When planning your move and choosing dates and routes, it’s always best to consult the Plan My Move tool provided by Military OneSource.
Moving companies approved and hired as part of relocation assistance can pack, load, transport, and deliver your belongings and household to your new duty station. Being able to keep track of this in only a few clicks helps significantly streamline the process of moving. The ability to get that information instantly or pass it along to your spouse or partner helps cut down on unnecessary stress.
It’s all about communication, especially with your family and loved ones. Uprooting the life you’ve built for yourself over the span of several years isn’t just hard for you as the service member – it is also hard for your family. It’s important for everyone involved to stay in touch.
Taking full advantage of the benefits and allowances provided to you by federally mandated and military based relocation programs will help ensure that this and future moves are as seamless as possible. This is a new chapter in your military career and will open up exciting new opportunities and adventures for you and your family.
About the Author: D.M. McCauley is a former U.S. Navy sailor who worked in Intel. After the service, he has dedicated his time to writing and traveling with his significant other.