Whether it is your very first or your fifth PCS, transitioning to a new base can test even the most resilient military families. Checklists, reminders and moving boxes have a way of stealing the limelight from the excitement that comes with moving to a fresh location. Organization will always turn out to be your best friend throughout the relocation process.
During these times of uncertainty, keep in mind the family will be following your lead, so stay grounded and calm as you make your arrival at the new unit. Set the scene by arming yourself beforehand with the following five secrets for settling in at a new military base:
1. Do not wait to collect your documents
With the military lifestyle comes plenty of paperwork. You do not need to know the physical location of the new unit to begin collecting the necessary paperwork you will need to complete important tasks on base. Have your marriage license, birth certificate, social security card, power of attorney, vehicle registration and insurance gathered and easily accessible. Check the expiration date on your driver’s license, and make a trip to have it renewed if it is set to expire within the year. Having this important paperwork ready beforehand will make the experience of accessing military units, registering on base, and enrolling in government programs much easier.
2. Use social networking to your advantage
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can be a military spouse’s best friend when it comes to gathering information on a new location or connecting with other military spouses.
While signed in on your Facebook account, you can use the search bar (graph search) to look for groups by location and interest. For example, if you type “Military Spouse Fort Bliss”- you would find the Fort Bliss Military Spouse Network Group. On Twitter you can type the location into the search box at the top of your Twitter Home timeline. Your results will show a combination of people and Tweets related to your search. Search the results for tweeters sharing information related to your area of interest. On Pinterest search Fort Bliss Pin boards to follow military spouses already pinning in that area.
Along with using social networking to connect with other military spouses prior to the move, search the web for resources in that area. Use the power of the internet to obtain vital insight that will help make your transition smooth. From the local medical facilities to schools, housing and recreation, there is no better way to make yourself at home than getting familiar and learning from those who are already living in the area.
3. Know your priorities
When starting fresh at a new base, it is critical that you prioritize your to-do list. Decide whether you will be living on the economy or if you will need military housing. If military housing is your choice, get the ball rolling early on your next residence. New spouses will need to obtain a military ID, have their sponsor enroll them in DEERS, call Tricare to begin a Metlife dental plan, and obtain a power of attorney if their spouse will be absent often.
Seasoned spouses may need to renew their ID if their sponsor has recently made rank or the expiration date is approaching. You will need to contact a Tricare representative to have a new primary care manager assigned to handle your medical needs. These are all top priority steps to making your new duty location “home”. Knowing this beforehand is half the battle won.
4. Get to know the base
After you’ve received orders to the next assignment, take some time to familiarize yourself with the base. What kind of facilities, such as a gym or pool, will you have the privilege of accessing? Is there an active spouse’s association? Learn the command and base rules, as well as any important contacts, such as the Ombudsman, FRG, JAG, and housing representatives, that you may utilize while your spouse is assigned there.
5. Be confident
The most difficult part of getting settled at a new base is overcoming the feeling of being the new spouse. Do not be afraid to get directions and ask questions. Be willing to meet others and make connections. Remember, everyone else was once new to the unit as well, most are welcoming and more than willing to help. When the excitement of moving finally calms and you have learned the ins and outs of the base you will be calling “home” for a few years, bring your confidence forward and reach out to the next new spouse that comes along.
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