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PCSing, what you need to know

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Moving from one location to the next can be difficult, especially with how frequently servicemembers complete a permanent change of station. PCSing can be a daunting task. If you're facing your first PCS, you could be in for a little stress, several phone calls to make sure everything is taken care of, and maybe even a few mental breakdowns - or at least, I did.

Many people will move from stateside base to stateside base, and some will move from the States overseas, and vice versa. My experience was moving from an overseas location, and it was a headache. However, I wouldn't change the experience I encountered for anything. I love the Rapid City area and am enjoying the small-base feel.

Throughout the transition, I also gained several valuable lessons I wish I had known from the start that I'd like to pass on to you.

One of the most important lessons I learned during my PCS was to keep in contact with the military personnel section. My paperwork to extend my estimated leave date and change my current assignment had been misplaced, which required following up with MPS to find and submit it later than originally requested. 

Now the first thing you will want to complete is your initial assignment briefing, which is located in the virtual Military Personnel Flight. This can be accessed through the Air Force portal. The "briefing" must be accomplished within two weeks following the official notification of an assignment.

Also located in vMPF is your out-processing checklist which you'll need to stay on track during your final few months on station.

If you ever have a question or are confused with any part of the PCS process, the checklist or how to expedite processes - ask. There are no stupid questions. Every Airman needs a little guidance for their first big move and those who ask questions are less likely to have problems with their orders or shipment requirements.

Learning to lean on others for help and advice is critical to a successful transition to your new base. Be sure to ask questions to make the process easier for you and your family.

I cannot stress the importance of keeping deadlines in mind to ensure paperwork is submitted promptly and properly, and remembering to follow-up. If you fail to do so, you may have to jump through hoops to get your out-processing back on track.

Once you receive orders, set up your travel itinerary, household goods pick-up, and your final-out date. If you are transitioning to a location without a permanent housing arrangement, set up the hotel rooms in advance. Be prepared for limited on-base lodging at some stateside bases.

PCS moves are known to be stressful from beginning to end, and no matter how much you prepare, things do not always go according to plan.

Start preparing now, and lean on others when needed. Your wingmen are here to help, but ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure your move goes well.

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