PCSing Summer Surge: Busy, stressful, exciting

A German moving company crew loads the worldly possessions of an American U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz employee July 12.

Leaving a job you like in a country you’ve loved might not be easy. And making that move to a different continent can make things more difficult.

That’s why Army Materiel Command and Installation Management Command are trying hard to make the process easier. Since January, those expecting to PCS this summer have been told this year’s “Summer Surge” could have challenges on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I’ve had no issues with my household goods, shipping the car, lodging or anything, I’ve even been given a sponsor at my new assignment,” said Master Sgt. Latoral Bishop of the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz religious support office about the clearing process. “The agencies are all different. You can contact some by phone and some by email.”

Garrison employee Matt Davis is leaving after seven years. His family is moving five people, two dogs, and two cars.

“There are so many balls you have to juggle. It’s stressful. There’s no way to get around that,” Davis said. “[The Civilian Personnel Advisory Center] has been very good to deal with, but the amount of paperwork was incredible. But, it’s just part of the process and everyone has to deal with the same thing.”

Once orders are in hand, things started rolling for Bishop and Davis. The 405th Army Field Support Brigade, which handles all PCS moves in the garrison footprint, advises everyone PCSing that as soon as they have orders in hand, run don’t walk to get the process started. Even before airline tickets, the first stop should be the Transportation Movement Office.

An employee of a German moving company packs up a dining set of an American U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz employee for a PCS move July 12.

“As soon as you have your orders, come to transportation as quickly as possible,” said Jeffrey Morrison, a transportation specialist with the 405th. “We are taking walk-ins, and you can come to either Daenner Kaserne to get started.”

Bishop and Davis said shipping their vehicles proved quick and easy, as long as you have the correct paperwork. Both were able to find temporary lodging for their families and are in the process of clearing out, a process that differs somewhat between military and civilian employees.

Both AMC and IMCOM are open about informing all Soldiers and families of the PCS challenges stateside, including moving company delays and more.

Davis cautioned those PCSing to understand that while the government may be paying many fees and while there are agencies and functions in place that can assist, moving can still be an expensive venture.

“The biggest stress is financial,” he said. “This costs, that costs. It’s easy to start bleeding money, if you’re not careful. Shipping a second car on our own dime, shipping your pets, a rental car, the first and last month’s rent on a home at our destination, things the government doesn’t cover … it all adds up very quickly. People need to understand, and plan for, that.”

Bishop said it’s important to remind PCS’ers you have other things to take care of. If you were given government furniture for your home, you’ll need to call the Furniture Management Office to arrange its return. You’ll need flight reservations and lodging on both sides of the PCS. Don’t forget to leave time for cleaning and clearing your house, on-post or off.

Finally, both Bishop and Davis said don’t discount the emotional and mental stress a PCS can take on you and your family.

“I’ve felt it and seen it in friends,” Davis said. “I’ve been able to talk with friends, family and colleagues to help vent it out. But, you have to realize you need to take care of yourself and your whole family too.”