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After months of planning and preparing for your PCS, you’ve finally arrived at your new destination. Now it’s time for the fun part — building a nest and making it home. Here are a few ways to tap into your new military community so you can get settled and into the swing of things more quickly.
Your school liaison can help with school transitions.
Contact your local school liaison for all of your pre-K-12 education needs and to help with a smooth school transition.
1. Connect with a sponsor to see how the locals live
Before you PCS, you should be assigned a sponsor at your new duty station. Sponsors are typically assigned through your unit and are similar in rank or family make up. They can be a friendly face with knowledge and experience who can make those critical first introductions, guide you to important resources and give you an insider’s perspective of your new duty station and community. Learn more about how sponsors can help during your PCS.
Sponsors normally contact you well before you arrive at your new destination. If you haven’t already been contacted by a sponsor, you can request one through your local Military and Family Support Center.
If you have children, the youth sponsorship program can help them get settled both at school and in the community. Contact your installation school liaison or youth programs office for more information about youth sponsorship.
2. Work with a relocation assistance professional to get referrals to other services
A relocation assistance service provider can help you embrace your new community. Consultations cover everything from housing and child care to spouse employment and stress management. Contact your installation Military and Family Support Center for information about the array of Relocation Assistance Program resources and services.
For parents with preschool children, it’s a good idea to contact your installation’s child development center immediately to register for child care because there can be a long waiting list in some areas. You don’t need official orders to request child care, so be sure to start that process as soon as you know where you’ll be going.
Learn more about military child care programs, including how to:
- Search for and request child care through MilitaryChildCare.com
- Access a national database of caregivers through Military OneSource’s Expanded hourly options
- Learn about fee assistance available from ChildCareAware.org
3. Help your children make a smooth transition with assistance from your school liaison
School liaisons are located at each installation and are the main contact for military families, local school systems and installation command for school-related matters pre-K through 12. They provide a wide variety of services for students and families, including transition support before and after a PCS. School liaisons can provide information on school districts and boundaries, assist with transfer of credits and class registration, help locate after-school and extracurricular programs, and set up tutoring and youth sponsorship referrals. They can also help you explore alternative schooling options and help with college, career and military readiness. Need help with special education? Your school liaison can connect you to the Exceptional Family Member Program and your school’s special education department, as well as help you navigate your new school district’s special education program.
School liaison support is free of charge and open to all Defense Department identification card holders. Learn more about school liaisons, and contact your local school liaison for help with your child’s school transition or other educational needs.
4. Check out Armed Services YMCA programs for family bonding opportunities and meeting new neighbors
Armed Services YMCA provides several programs designed to help military families grow their networks of support – with a particular focus on helping junior enlisted service men and women. Operation Camp sponsors family, youth and teen camps at military-supported YMCA branches and affiliate locations. These meaningful experiences help families bond with other members of the military community while offering tools to help manage the unique challenges of military life. Operation Little Learners teaches strategies to help with early childhood development in a community of support where parents and children can learn from each other.
5. Explore Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities to have fun and meet new people
Connect with fellow military families as you hit the links, go bowling or play basketball with your children at the recreation center. As the military’s network of support and leisure activities, the MWR program offers a variety of options — something for everyone to enjoy — both on and off on the installation. Contact your local MWR office for information about local programs and events. You can also visit your new duty station webpage on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for information about MWR programs, as well as other programs, services and community amenities. Learn more about how to explore your base and beyond with MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
6. Join a military spouse networking group to “talk jobs” with other spouses
For military spouses seeking employment at their new duty station, joining a networking group can be a great opportunity to meet fellow military spouses while advancing your career.
- Learn more about the Military Spouse Employment Partnership
- Connect with your installation’s spouse education, training and career services
- Join the Military Spouse Employment Partnership spouse group on LinkedIn
7. Join your Family Readiness Group and widen your support network
The Military Family Readiness System empowers service members and families with the support and information they need to thrive in their military lives. Each service branch has a unit family readiness program, but the names and resources available may differ. Special focus is given to helping spouses and families prepare for short- and long-term deployments, increasing communication between families and unit leadership and boosting unit morale and a sense of community. These groups host family-friendly unit activities, where spouses can meet, find support and learn from each other.
Make your new destination home by connecting with your local military community so you can make connections and get to your new normal faster. If you still need help figuring out where to begin, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365. Call 800-342-9647, set up a live chat or use overseas calling options to schedule a free and confidential consultation.