How to Experience a Smooth OCONUS PCS
A permanent change of station move overseas, or OCONUS PCS, is the most complicated because it requires more planning, and the staff of the Relocation Readiness Program, Army Community Service is ready to assist.
To successfully make a smooth OCONUS transition, Connie Silk, supervisor of the ACS-Relocation Readiness Program, recommends Soldiers follow three critical steps:
- Attended mandatory “OCONUS Smooth Move Orientation,” the overseas levy briefing.
- Ensure PCS orders are accurate.
- Visit the Transportation Office to schedule movement of personal property and vehicle as well as scheduling flights.
After the Soldier receives assignment instructions from Human Resources Command, he or she will be scheduled to attend mandatory overseas levy briefing, Silk said. The briefings are offered Wednesdays at the Soldier Support Center.
At the briefing ACS Relocation Readiness Program staff provide the first portion that offers valuable information about the moving process.
“It covers the PCS tools available to assist with managing a PCS move,” Silk said.
This is followed by a briefing provided by staff from the Reassignment office. If the Soldier is moving overseas with Family the final portion is a Family travel briefing, which includes an exceptional Family member, or EFMP, screening and completing a request to be sent for command sponsor approval by the gaining command, she said.
The timeliness and accuracy of this paperwork is very important, Silk said, as it impacts the processing time for publication of PCS orders by the Reassignment office.
Once PCS orders are received via official Army email, she advises Soldiers check their PCS orders to ensure accuracy, especially if Families are involved in the move. If there are any discrepancies the Soldier should contact his or her S1 and the Reassignment office to request an amendment to the orders.
Moving personal property, vehicle
“At this point the Soldier needs to visit the Transportation Office located in the Soldier Support Center with a copy of PCS orders,” Silk said.
Although the shipment of personal property and vehicles, if authorized in the PCS orders, is scheduled online by the Soldier, the staff of the Transportation office is available to provide guidance and assistance, Silk said.
Soldiers who are moving for the first time can also attend a briefing during which staff will assist them in setting up an account in the Defense Property System, or DPS, at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-housing/moving/pcs-and-military-moves/ (Link opens in new window.), and PCSmyPOV, at https://www.PCSMyPOV.com (Link opens in new window), and explain the process, she said.
And the staff of the Transportation office is always available should a Soldier experience issues setting up shipments. Silk said.
The final critical step in the OCONUS PCS process is scheduling a flight through the Transportation Office, passenger travel section, if it is authorized in the PCS orders.
“Flights are booked from the nearest airport closest to your losing installation to the airport nearest the gaining installation,” Silk said.
She advises Soldiers take a look at the automated welcome packet for their gaining installation at https://www.installations.militaryonesource.mil, where under the check-in procedures category they can identify which airport to use and information about in-processing.
Other important steps depend on each Soldier’s individual circumstances and if the Family is also moving overseas, Silk said. Those steps may include shipping pets and terminating a lease if renting or selling a home.
If there are children involved, Silk said, there are additional steps to consider as well.
“School liaison officers can assist you with knowing what your children need to successfully transition to a new location and can introduce you to the school liaison and schools at your new duty station,” she said. “And the youth sponsorship program gives children peers to help them get to know their new school and installation.”
Another factor to consider is if the spouse will seek employment at the gaining installation. The Employment Assistance Program can assist spouses with finding employment at their new duty station, Silk said.
Information regarding these steps can be found at https://installations.militaryonesource.mil (Link opens in new window.) in the automated welcome packet for the gaining installation under the Military and Family Services Center category.
Silk said diligently completing each step in the process timely and accurately is key to avoiding frustration. Additionally, she recommends Soldiers be proactive, after receiving assignment instructions begin the critical steps of an overseas PCS early, ask questions and reach out for help if the need arises.
Even when things do go smoothly there always is the possibility of additional challenges, particularly with personal property, Silk said.
“The most common problems encountered during this process could be their household goods were shipped already and the Family is not scheduled to depart for another week,” Silk said.
Soldiers are only authorized five days of reimbursable temporary lodging expense before departing to the new duty station. This expense is reimbursed during in -processing, she said. PCS finance entitlements information can be found https://home.army.mil/campbell/index.php/finance.
Outbound Soldiers may also use the ACS Lending Closet during this time.
For more information about OCONUS PCS, visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/moving-housing/moving/pcs-and-military-moves/ (Link opens in new window.), or email ACS Relocation Readiness Program, 1501 William C. Lee Road, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call for an appointment 270-798-6313, or 270-798-0513.