Frequent relocations are part of military life. Moving can be challenging and stressful to Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and their families, but many service members and their families learn to thrive on the new experiences and opportunities for personal and professional growth afforded them through this mobile lifestyle. Relocation service providers help families navigate moving-related challenges by providing counseling, planning assistance, information, referral, and education on how to minimize the stress and maximize the benefits of military life and frequent moves. To ensure a smooth move, start planning early using the many Relocation Assistance Program services and tools available.
Basic relocation programs and services
- Individual PCS (permanent change of station) planning. Most relocation programs offer one-on-one consultation for anyone needing assistance. In particular, those making their first military move, first overseas move, or those with challenging and complex situations such as special needs family members or financial problems should schedule an appointment with the Relocation Assistance Program office.
- MilitaryInstallations and Plan My Move. For managing and planning your move, use these two DoD-sponsored web-based relocation tools with information on over 250 installations worldwide. You can estimate expenses, find the forms necessary for housing and household goods, keep a calendar of events and take other necessary actions to ensure a successful move.
- Loan closet. Many basic household items are available to borrow while your personal property is en route to your new destination. Available items typically include pots and pans, dishes, silverware, irons, ironing boards, port-a-cribs, high chairs, and infant/toddler car seats. Generally, towels and bed linens are not available, so these should be packed in your hold baggage.
- Workshops and briefings. Available classes vary from installation to installation, but you can generally find workshops or briefings on smart buying, selling and renting (real estate); budgeting and finance; moving with children; general moving preparation; and many related topics.
- Predeparture briefings. Sometimes called Smooth Move or PCS briefings, you and your spouse will want to attend these for sure. You’ll get essential information that can prevent you from making uninformed and costly decisions before your move.
- Settling-in services. These may include welcome wagon services, local area tours with childcare often provided, or distribution of basic household items to use until your goods arrive. Overseas arrival services may include introductory language classes and cultural awareness training.
- Deployment support. The Family Center assists unit family readiness groups and Ombudsman programs during the entire deployment cycle. Support includes services for people with special needs, classes on deployment preparation, managing finances, helping children adjust, family separation, return and reunion, and information on local and online resources.
- Foreign-born spouse support. Whether you need to know about immigration and naturalization, learning the English language or how to take local transportation, the Relocation Program provides assistance, classes and referrals.
- Emergency assistance. If you find yourself in an emergency situation during a move, the Relocation Assistance Program office has the resources to provide emergency financial assistance and referrals.
- Transition assistance. This is a mandatory program available to assist personnel and family members when they separate from the military. The Relocation Assistance Program office will establish your individual transition plan and refer you to all the necessary installation and community resources to complete a successful transition.
Additional programs and services may include
- relocation counseling on topics including financial management, housing, stress management, and shipment and storage of household goods
- assistance in locating affordable housing in the destination location
- liaison to citizenship and immigration services
- information and referral to waiting families (Hearts Apart) services
- liaising with Warriors in Transition programs
- information on moving costs, housing, child care, spousal employment, and managing the emotional effects of relocation
- providing welcome packets
- sponsorship training programs