The military lifestyle brings about constant change. One of the biggest and most drastic of the changes is the act of physically uprooting the family, sometimes on a semi-annual or annual basis.
As exciting as a change of scenery might be, a permanent change of station could also bring overwhelming stress or financial burden. Housing final-outs, Tricare, vehicle shipments, unaccompanied baggage, pulling the kids out of school, and pets are just a fraction of the laundry list of to-do’s for PCSing out. Luckily, chaplain services, military family life counselors, and the Air Force Aid Society are just a few ways families can find relief.
Chaplains are one of the primary sources that help Airmen and their families develop a solid mental attitude by providing comprehensive resilience and whole-person care. The 86th Airlift Wing Chapel offers fourteen different religious groups leading programs for families seeking support at both Northside and Southside Chapel. The staff can also accommodate anyone who does not identify as religious, or sees themselves as spiritual, but not religious, humanist, or atheist by providing non-denominational counseling support.
Chaplains have vast experience with all types of issues and people. “The best part is that we PCS just like everyone else, and understand the experience of a PCS on the Air Force family,” said Lt. Col. Charles Seligman, 86th Airlift Wing Chapel Branch Chief.
Every unit has a chaplain assigned to them. There is also a chaplain on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So there is never a wait to speak to a chaplain, and they never turn anyone away. Chaplains provide 100 percent confidentiality.
For those seeking stress relief, coaching or resilience options outside of chapel services, Air Force Military Family Life Counselors are an option. As contracted professionals, MFLCs are contracted professional counselors available to Department of Defense identification card holders. The counselors are experienced and provide assistance on a wide range of subjects, including stress and anxiety, grief, and issues surrounding daily life, as well as marriage and relationships.
Consultations with MFLCs are confidential and not recorded or maintained. There are also group and unit trainings offered at no cost. Individuals can contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center for MFLC assistance.
Lastly, PCS season could drastically and negatively affect the wallet. That’s where the Air Force Aid Society comes into play. When unexpected financial expenses or emergencies arise, AFAS can provide interest-free loans, grants, or budget counseling as part of their standard assistance to help Airmen and families meet their financial needs. The other option is the Falcon Loan, a non-interest loan of up to $1,000, for when time and resources are limited for families.
Payment is made to the final vendor such as a landlord for rent or repairs, or car mechanic. Air Force Aid Society assistance is available to all active-duty Air Force members, Air National Guard and Air Force Reservists, retired Air Force members, and Air Force dependents who are enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and hold a DoD ID card. Members can visit the AFAS website for assistance.
Permanent changes of station are part of the military culture and the stress of it all is normal. Seek assistance when needed, and enjoy your next duty station.