Troops Stranded by PCS, TDY Freezes


U.S. troops and their families are feeling the second-week effects of the government shutdown which has crippled the machine responsible for moving entire households, often times around the globe, to new duty stations.

Permanent change of station, or PCS, is the latest victim of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Even under normal conditions, the process of moving a servicemember’s entire family and a house full of personal possessions can be challenging.

This week, many military spouses say they are a nightmare, now that the Pentagon has frozen PCS moves until the government reopens.

Jennifer Paquette’s Air Force husband was scheduled to return from a year in Korea next month. Now his return, and their PCS, is on hold.

“I have been in shock since my husband got notice from his AF command last week,” Paquette wrote in the comment’s section of an Oct. 8 SpouseBuzz post on the issue. “He's in Korea, I'm in Connecticut. He's been gone since last November. His ‘reservation’ for return is/was November 14. Our PCS to Alabama is on hold ‘until further notice.’ Just praying that this gets cleared up in time for no delays with his out processing. A few weeks could mean a sad Thanksgiving for our family.”

Another spouse, whose husband is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, also described her frustration with the PCS freeze.

“We arrived just over a month ago. However, because of the government shutdown our household goods shipment is ‘stalled,’” she wrote on SpouseBUZZ, a family blog on

“I should be grateful though, some new friends -- who arrived after my husband and I -- were in the process of looking for housing and now they are frozen in place and can't even move forward on saying yes to a place or anything. … At least my husband and I are in our own place.”

The order to freeze PCS moves comes just a few days after the Pentagon ordered all services to cancel all temporary travel linked to professional military educations courses. Temporary duty, or TDY, orders allow soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines to leave their units for several weeks or months to attend leadership and military skill courses to make them more effective at their jobs. 

Service members have been ordered back to their units -- in most cases -- before completing the course work at the school.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Mike Curcio was halfway through with the six week NCO Academy at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla., when his instructors told his class Oct. 4 that the shutdown’s effect on funding meant most students would have to return to their units as soon as possible.

About 25 service members in the class, who were either stationed at Tyndall, or in the National Guard, were allowed to stay and complete the course. The remainder of the class – about 155 students – was told they would have to return to the school sometime in January and start from the beginning, Curcio said.

“I get no credit for what I have done,” said Curcio, who is stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., with the 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “We are complaining about a lack of money, and we are going to turn around and send people back and pay for stuff they have already learned.”

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Budget PCS