So you have received your PCS or permanent change of station order and it is your first. If your spouse is away when the orders come, panic and sadness set in. These are nightmare scenarios that a thousand articles have been written about and millions of military families have experienced. The PCS means that you are going to move, but even stations can change. The theme in these articles is that you need checklists and emotional support. The military is your chosen life, but you are a little miffed it is happening while your spouse is less available. What these articles and many military families are missing is the whole digital age. There are web-based solutions for every problem that presents itself in the arena of moving, whether it is military or civilian life. Skype, social media and programs like Google Map and Google earth can take the entire sting from a PCS order. Company’s reputations can be checked in seconds, friends can be made and kept and even directions and an actual view of the new place and schools can be found in seconds. Therefore, the top PCS mistake is not utilizing these advantages. The stress relief alone is worth it.
Since we have been at war for ten years, military families already know the value of some of this technology. Skype has brought families face time with their soldiers in war zones. It allows lonely soldiers and the children that missed them to connect. It even gives soldiers the opportunity to chastise them for being hard cases. Therefore, the stress of not having a spouse around during the move is calming and can be as if receiving direct orders from a battle zone, which sometimes the process of moving can be. Remember, limiting stress is the key in these situations and simply being able to cry to a spouse face to face can be soothing. Skype is also an excellent way to communicate with new teachers and principals. Face time can be a real indicator of the type people that will be encountered. Facebook and other social media platforms can sometimes give an impression that is embellished, although the value of those platforms is evident. The true stress and angst in moving is more poignant when a partner can see the chaos in real time. It makes the spouses more sympathetic of conditions on the ground and the stress that can only be scene in the expressions on a spouse’s face. It is not a hug, but it is close.
Social media is an important tool on various levels and there are many to choose. Facebook means you really never have to move. One of the hard parts of moving is leaving relationships that have been forged. Facebook’s existence and growth have been because people wanted to interact with people they have moved away from in life. Once again, the value of the stress that is relieved is worth using the service, but it is also valuable in the moving arena. Companies can pay for good reviews, but with Facebook, you can receive opinions of friends and friends of friends. Being able to access friends and their networks at once, increases the chance that your move does not remove you from a circle of support. That support circle can ensure that you avoid the pitfalls. Shipping and moving services can be nefarious, but on Facebook people are recommending people that have done work for multiple people in your circle and in multiple places. Advice an also be had from people that have been in your position. Self-help articles have their place, but information from people experienced in what you are going through is invaluable.
Finally, the stress of driving and being lost in new locations is one of the things that are dreaded about moving. Real time map services like Google Maps and Google Earth are invaluable. Any navigation app or phone navigation service can give you turn by turn directions, but not having visualized a place can still make driving in strange areas stressful. Areas around military installations are always changing and navigation applications and devices can be unreliable .Google Maps and Earth can give you visuals of the roads and with the street view feature, buildings. This gives landmarks as reference points to reinforce the information that is being received from navigation devices. One final feature of these services is that you can see the actual house, neighborhood, and schools from multiple vantage points. The fear of showing up to a post-apocalyptical danger zone can be waved. This along with the other digital solutions has tremendous value, but its most important value is in relieving the stress that receiving that PCS order can bring. PCS’s are a part of the job, but any stress that can be minimized in the stressful life of a military family is worth it.