Military Families Already Have Enough PCS Support, New Study Finds

moving truck and boxes

The Defense Department likely doesn't need any new policies or programs to make the military move process easier on troops and families, but they do need to use and understand the ones they already have, according to a new report.

The RAND Corp report, released early this month, reviews the impact of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves on military families and looks at how the Pentagon helps families stay stable despite the turmoil caused by relocating. The study was ordered Congress as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

As part of their study, RAND researchers compiled and reviewed both past studies on how moves impact families, and the programs and policies the Pentagon and the individual services currently have in place to address those challenges.

That review, said Patricia Tong, a RAND researcher, showed that, although moving is hard on military families in a variety of ways, the DoD or individual services already have programs in place to address all of the documented stresses or "disruptions."

What they don't have, she said, is research showing that those services or policies work.

"We don't have good evidence of the efficacy of the current policy and services," she said. "In terms of whether we found that there were gaps in existing policy and services to cover this broad list of disruptions -- we didn't find any."

That means instead of continually creating new policies and programs to help military families deal with the stress of moving, lawmakers and the Pentagon should make sure the ones they currently have work or aren't redundant, the report says.

"Future work is necessary to determine the extent to which these existing programs are redundant, whether multiple programs meeting the same needs are desirable ... and ways to improve these programs to better serve military families," the report states.

While creating new programs likely won't lift the stress of moving, the report says, fixing some of the Pentagon's current processes could.

For example, issuing PCS orders sooner would make booking packers and movers easier. And creating a way for the Pentagon's personnel, financial and PCS systems to talk to each other would have a major impact on PCS logistics. Both of those fixes could reduce family stress, the report says.

"Specifically, given survey and interview data related to the timeliness of receiving PCS orders, we suggest that there is potential for increasing the lead time given to families prior to a PCS move," it states.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

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