Welcome to your new duty station. How many PCS moves does this make for your family? I’m in my 17th house now, so I’ve done my share of checking into new duty stations. If this is your first move or 20th, make sure you fully get to know your new military installation.
Once your boxes are unpacked, follow this checklist to get familiar with your new surroundings.
1. Talk to Your Sponsor
Each time you PCS, the service member is given a sponsor. This is a fellow service member that is already stationed at that location who is familiar with the area. Their job is to help make your PCS an easy one by helping you get settled in and get to know the area. Take advantage of this help and make contact with that person.
2. Find the Commissary
I love the commissary. You’ll spend a lot of time here so go ahead and find out where it is and what the hours of operation are.
Some commissaries are closed on Sundays and Mondays while others are open every day.
Make sure you plan your shopping trip accordingly. Stop by the commissary for a few minutes on a day you don’t need to do your big weekly shopping just to see what the selection is. Some commissaries are quite small and only offer a few things while others have a vast selection.
3. Find the ITT Office
The ITT office is a great resource. Each one offers different services which could include: travel and vacation packages, travel insurance, car rentals, flights, tours, concerts, national events and local tickets. Universal Studios, SeaWorld, DisneyLand and Walt Disney World packages are really popular. You can save a lot of money by purchasing tickets through the ITT office.
After a PCS, you might want to plan some family fun. Contact your ITT office to see what’s going on in your area.
4. Locate the MWR
The Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program offers an abundance of activities for families. After a busy PCS, you’re going to want to get out and have fun.
The U.S. Army MWR has 223 fitness centers, 192 child development centers, 137 swimming pools, 86 outdoor recreation centers, 79 bowling and family fun centers, 78 Army community service centers, 76 libraries, 66 auto skills centers, 48 golf courses, 54 arts & crafts centers and 12 riding stables.
There is surely something fun for your family to do to relax and get to know your new duty station.
5. Check Out the Base’s Fitness Center
Why pay a monthly fee to work out at the gym in town when you can go to the fitness center for free? Many locations have a mother and child area where you can work out and keep an eye on your little one.
If you’re self-conscious about working out in front of others or are intimidated by large crowds, go after 9 a.m. when most service members will be back to work and the gym will be quieter.
Don’t put it off. Dig to the bottom of that last PCS box and find your workout clothes.
6. Contact the CDC or Base School
Do you have children and need child care or to enroll them in school? Contact the Child Development Center to see if they have openings. If there is a wait list, it doesn’t actually go first-come first-served. There is a priority level index. You can get on the list however and enroll your child in another program in the meantime.
Contact the base school before you PCS, if you can, to find out what records you need to bring to register your children in the school.
7. Join a Spouse Group
There’s no better way to get to know a new installation and feel at home, than to make friends. No matter how many times you PCS, you will still want to get know other military spouses who know the area.
Having good friends can really make a difference in your experience living in a new place.
Contact your command ombudsman or spouse liaison. Join the enlisted or officer’s spouse club. Get online and look for base groups. Try Facebook or Meetup.com for example.
Each PCS is different. It can be a lonely road if you sit at home alone. Get out and get to know your new installation. Make friends and get involved. This could be your favorite duty station. It’s up to you to take advantage of all it offers.