Skip to main content

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Tips for Military Parents Planning PCS Moves with Children

Image of Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children. A child at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni blows bubbles during a recent Month of the Military Child celebration. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gabriela Garcia-Herrera)

Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age.

Yet there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Army Maj. (Dr.) Dominique Holley, a child psychiatrist and deputy chief at Fort Campbell's Department of Behavioral Health, shared some important tips for military families to help in the PCS process for kids.

How far in advance should parents start connecting with the community they will be moving to?

"Short answer is as soon as possible," Holley said. Sharing information with children about the new location where they will live can be very helpful in helping kids adjust to the idea of living in a new place.

"It will be important to start looking into the known interests of the kids or family such as local parks, scout troops or local churches for activities," she said.

"Moving can be stressful and there typically are mixed emotions surrounding moving from the whole family."

Nevertheless, she said: "Kids generally adapt well overall, forming connections early on to a new place."

What are some suggestions for finding a new doctor?

"Enrollment in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EMFP) ensures that any military family member with chronic medical concerns, physical disabilities, mental health disorders or required intensive follow-up support are stationed where services are available for that family member," she said.

Beneficiaries can search for doctors in a new location on the TRICARE website. Providers in most circumstances reach out to receiving installations to provide warm hand-offs to receiving clinics.

Additional PCS recommendations regarding medical records:

When transferring from installation to installation there is typically no need to transfer medical records as long as there is consistency from one electronic health record (EMR) to the next, Holley explained.

While the MHS GENESIS electronic health record is being implemented at military hospitals and clinics across the Military Health System, that transition is not yet complete. Beneficiaries may have to request their medical records from your hospital or clinic medical record department or patient administration division, if the installation you are transferring from or to is not yet using MHS GENESIS.

"Once MTFs migrate to MHS GENESIS from the Armed Forces Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) EHR, then they will no longer need to transport paper medical records from one MTF to another," Holley stated.

The process of requesting medical records takes about one or two weeks and requires the approval of behavioral health care providers. "This request should be made about a month prior to PCS to ensure time to obtain records when needed," Holley said.

When traveling to the new location, Holley suggested these activities to keep children engaged while en route:

"Ensure easy access to the most commonly used games and activities and toys while traveling," Holley said.

Also, audio books or tablet computers, depending on the age of the child, can be engaging as well.

Should parents try to keep kids involved in the same type of activities at the new location?

"There are no correct activities necessarily to involve kids in. It largely depends on interests or passions of the kids," Holley said. "If they love certain sports or hobbies, then it makes sense to ensure to make efforts to continue those."

She also suggested that the move might also be an opportunity to try new things and introduce kids to new interest that may be unique to the new school or area.

Are there ways to make goodbyes less difficult for the kids?

"Focus on all the positives of a new place," Holley suggested. "Parents should highlight unique features of the new environment with activities that kids would enjoy."

Planning enjoyable activities in the new city or state ahead of the move can help make the move something to look forward to. Another thing to consider is to plan a return visit to see close friends or family. "Leaving certain people is particularly difficult for kids as well as adults," Holley said.

Any tips for helping kids get organized and prepare for the move?

Make sure to keep commonly used games and toys away from movers so that they are easily accessible for kids during the move. The same applies for their favorite items of clothing, shoes, etc.

Help kids pack a personal bag of their most beloved items to give them a sense of responsibility or control over those things.

"Often times, kids don't have a lot of control over what's happening," Holley said. "Giving them options and helping them to feel empowered with small decisions can be helpful."

Additionally, consider assigning specific tasks during the move for children to focus on. For example, they may oversee ensuring the family pet is fed or has supplies stored away for easy access.

For more information about support programs for military children, visit Military Kids Connect.

You also may be interested in...

Report
Aug 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 8 - August 2020

.PDF | 1.06 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The limited role of vaccines in the prevention of acute gastroenteritis; Diarrhea and associated illness characteristics and risk factors among British active duty service members at Askari Storm ...

Report
Jul 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 7 - July 2020

.PDF | 1.02 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hearing conservation measures of effectiveness across the Department of Defense; Alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and co-occurring injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, ...

Report
Jun 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 6 - June 2020

.PDF | 743.79 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, ...

Report
May 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 5 - May 2020

.PDF | 2.34 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Ambulatory visits, ...

Report
Apr 22, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - April 2020

.PDF | 836.99 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Commentary: The Warrior Heat- and Exertion-Related Event Collaborative and the Fort Benning Heat Center; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, ...

Report
Apr 2, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 4 - APR 2020

.PDF | 831.95 KB

As of 1 APR, 186,101 total confirmed COVID-19 cases (3,603 deaths) have been reported in all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Current hot spots include NY, NJ, LA, CA, GA, FL, SC, and Guam. Confirmed COVID-19 cases are rapidly accelerating in the U.S., an increase ...

Report
Mar 30, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 3 - March 2020

.PDF | 910.92 KB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2019; Incidence of sexually transmitted infections before and after insertion of an intrauterine device or contraceptive ...

Report
Feb 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 2 - February 2020

.PDF | 1.80 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2019; Diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes, active and reserve component service members and dependents, 2008–2018; Increased risk for stress fractures and delayed ...

Report
Jan 1, 2020

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 1 - January 2020

.PDF | 1.09 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Active and Reserve Component Service Members and Non-Service Member Beneficiaries of the Military Health System, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2009–June 2019; Respiratory Pathogen ...

Report
Dec 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 12 - December 2019

.PDF | 3.00 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: Mitigating the risk of disease from tick-borne encephalitis in U.S. military populations; Tick-borne encephalitis surveillance in U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2006–2018; Case ...

Report
Nov 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 11 - November 2019

.PDF | 1.88 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: Mitigating the risk of disease from tick-borne encephalitis in U.S. military populations; Tick-borne encephalitis surveillance in U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2006–2018; Case ...

Report
Oct 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 10 - October 2019

.PDF | 1.25 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to ocular and vision-related conditions, active component, U.S. Armed ...

Report
Sep 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 9 - September 2019

.PDF | 1.58 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to ocular and vision-related conditions, active component, U.S. Armed ...

Report
Aug 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 8 - August 2019

.PDF | 10.02 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Modeling Lyme disease host animal habitat suitability, West Point, New York; Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014–2018; Update: Heat illness, ...

Report
Jul 1, 2019

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 7 - July 2019

.PDF | 4.86 MB

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Modeling Lyme disease host animal habitat suitability, West Point, New York; Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014–2018; Update: Heat illness, ...

Refine your search
Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery