The Pain of the PCS Process
May 24, 2017
If you are facing an upcoming Permanent Change of Station (PCS) you can find many different articles and resources designed to help you prepare for the process and make a smooth transition. The Navy issued guidance on delays for orders and shipping household goods because of the government's continuing resolution. But even with these resources, some families do not receive orders until 45-60 days prior to the estimated time to move. Are you stressed yet? No need to be!
Here are four tips to help a military family plan, prepare, and save as they prepare for a relatively quick move this season:
1) Apply for Advanced Travel Pay. This process varies across the services but provides for prepaying mileage and per diem. The Army and Air Force information is on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) website. The Navy has a specific form that you fill out and submit to your local PSD. For those service members who have not been issued a government credit card this money can help pay for the hotel rooms, food, and fuel you will need along the way.
2) Apply for Advanced Dislocation Allowance (Advanced DLA) when you submit your move paperwork. The Defense Travel website explains how much DLA you are entitled to and the purpose of the Dislocation Allowance: "to partially reimburse a member for the expenses incurred in relocating the household on a PCS, ordered for the Government's convenience, or incident to an evacuation." Use this money for deposits on your new home, setting up utilities, and incidental expenses that quickly add up.
3) Download and use the apps that exist specifically to help military service members and their families abide by the guidelines in place.
a) Military.com has a mobile app to guide you into pays and allowances. Just plug in your new zip code to find out what your BAH will be at your new location.
b) U.S. General Services Administration has an app that tells you what the per diem is for each location. This can be helpful when you are reserving hotel rooms and need to know what the government will reimburse.
4) Utilize websites to help you find the accommodations along the way.
a) The Department of Defense Lodging website allows you to search across the services to find accommodations across the United States. As a military family, you are entitled to stay at any of the lodgings no matter what branch your service member is under. If you are in the Navy you can stay at an Air Force lodging and vice versa. Get great rates and reservations that follow the per diem rate for the area.
b) Do you have pets? Many times, the DoD lodgings have limited rooms available for pets. But many websites offer ways to search for hotels that accept them as well. OfficialPetHotels, PetsWelcome, and BringFido are just a few.
Do the research and plan ahead to make the costly PCS move a little less painful, especially in the pinch of a truncated timeline you might be facing this PCS season. Turn in those requests for advanced pays, download the apps that help you during the transition, and make the hotel reservations that follow the per diem rate guidelines. Safe travels!
Guest Contributor: Ester Johnson, AFC®