Preparing for Deployment and Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
Take the right steps to ensure your family and finances are safe while you’re away.
It’s never easy when your family is in upheaval. When a military service member is involved, a whole new set of circumstances come into play because that service member could be away from the family for long periods of time or the family may have to follow the service member around from place to place.
That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead before deployment or PCS and make sure your family and finances are taken care of. As a result, you and your family will have a few less things to worry about during these stressful times.
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Preparing for deployment
Provide your family and yourself a sense of security by following these steps:
Create a Family Care Plan
Many units require you to create a Family Care Plan whether you expect to be deployed or not. Speak with your local family support center for advice. The military suggests that you follow these actions:
- Assign a guardian for your family in a special Power of Attorney and make sure that the guardian understands his/her responsibilities.
- Obtain ID and commissary cards, register in DEERS, and check to make sure all ID cards have not expired.
- Sign up for SGLI or a similar group life insurance, and update all beneficiary information.
- Arrange for housing, food, transportation and emergency needs.
- Inform your spouse or any caretakers about your financial matters.
- Arrange for your guardian to have access to necessary funds.
- Arrange for child care, education and medical care.
- Prepare a will, and designate a guardian in the will.
- Arrange for necessary travel and escort to transfer family members to their guardian.
- Discuss your plans with your older children.
Review your finances
Day-to-day life back home still goes on when military members are deployed. Bills must be paid on time and other financial responsibilities must be met. Review your finances carefully with your spouse, family members or a trusted friend.
- Make a list of monthly bills and other financial obligations
- Review bill due dates to avoid late payments or missed payments
- Verify amount of money in all accounts
- Prepare contact list for all banks, lenders and credit cards
- Set up direct deposit if you don’t already have it. Don’t rely on checks being sent through the mail
- Join the Savings Deposit Program. It provides a member of the uniformed services serving in designated combat zones the chance to increase their financial savings. A total of $10,000 may be deposited during each deployment and will earn 10% interest annually.
- Create a MyPay account with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). This is an online payroll and accounting system designed to help you organize and maintain your finances.
- Place an “active duty alert” on your credit reports by contacting the top three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion
Talk to a tax professional
Drop by your installations legal office and speak with a tax pro about what credit and deductions you’ll qualify for while deployed. Also, take a look at the Armed Forces’ Tax Guide for an update on special tax situations and to get forms.
Review all pertinent documents
Make certain your spouse, family, lawyer or close friend knows where these documents are stored.
- Will: Make sure your will is updated and all necessary information is current such as the executor, guardian of your children and contact information for the beneficiary. If you don’t have a will your Judge Advocate General (JAG) office can help you be certain to create a will or lose all rights in how your estate is divided.
- Power of attorney: This is a legal document used to give someone else the authority to take specific actions on your behalf, such as signing your checks to pay your bills or selling a particular piece of real estate.
- Letter of instruction: This is not a legal document but a helpful set of instructions that passes along any messages and directions you have about your estate and your funeral.
Examine your insurance situation
Make updates and changes to insurance when necessary.
- Life Insurance: As a service member you are eligible for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance for up to $400,000. Update this insurance if necessary.
- Auto Insurance: Contact your insurer and make the appropriate updates if you are storing the vehicle or if someone else will be driving it and they are not on the policy.
- Homeowners/renters insurance: Don’t forget to insure your personal property even if you live in government-provided housing. Consider property insurance for expensive items such as jewelry or a stamp collection.
- Disability Insurance: Think about signing up for private disability insurance in case you are disabled and can’t work when you arrive back home.
Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
Once you get your PCS orders it’s time to start planning immediately. Don’t forget to use all the resources the military provides. You don’t have to do this move on your own. There is help.
Schedule a meeting
The first step is to set up a meeting with your base transportation office. According to Military.com the name of the government office that handles your relocation varies:
- The Department of Defense: Joint Personal Property Shipping Office.
- Air Force: Traffic Management Office.
- Army: Installation Transportation Office.
- Navy and Marine Corps: Personal Property Shipping Office.
- Coast Guard: Household Goods Shipping Office.
Contact the finance office at your current location
Moving is costly, so it’s wise to take advantage of every benefit you’ll qualify for once your PCS orders are in. Your finance office will provide important information on benefits such as:
- Dislocation allowance
- Per Diem allowance
- Monetary allowance in lieu of transportation
- Temporary lodging expense
- Advance basic pay
Ask about additional benefits if you are moving overseas or to Alaska or Hawaii. Also inquire about a Do It Yourself move or a move coordinated by the Transportation Management Office. Start this process as soon as possible.
Contact your banking institution and discuss banking procedures. Things to keep in mind are:
- Keeping or changing your banking institution,(they may not have offices in the state you are moving to)
- Making certain your banking services are not interrupted
- Updating your contact information
- Maintaining your electronic banking services like online banking, account alerts via email or text and mobile banking
If you are currently banking with an institution that does not operate nationwide or in most states, you may want to consider a new bank with offices convenient to your location.
Every move incurs some losses or damages to household and personal items. To minimize the pain and cost, evaluate your personal situation by:
- Speaking with your relocation manager about insurance provided by the military
- Finding out what your moving company covers if you are moving yourself and contracting out with a mover of your choice. You may need to purchase insurance before they touch your items
- Talking to your transportation office and legal office at your base regarding claims and handling coverage
Keep all your medical records current by updating the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) with your and your family’s information. Contact your TRICARE office to receive your healthcare information and then contact the regional office when you know your new address. This will make certain your coverage becomes activated after you arrive at your new base.
Prepare a checklist
There are a million details to remember when you’re moving and it’s easy to forget a few. Use these checklists provided by Military.com to help plan and remember all the little things that make moving difficult. The move may not be perfect, but having these ready-to-print checklists should help ease the stress.