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New Resource Aims to Make PCS, Transition Less Stressful

If you’re getting ready for a big military move or leaving the military all together, a new specialty feature from Military One Source may be able to give you some much needed assistance with getting all those stressful details in line.

Military One Source is the Defense Department’s go-to resource for everything military family related. Need a job? Call Military One Source! Don’t know where to find family resources? Call Military One Source! Need some counseling? You guessed it – Military One Source is supposed to be able to hook you up.

While the service’s web site can be hard to navigate (although it has recently vastly improved) the 800 number puts you in direct human contact with a real, live consultant who is trained to be an expert on the resources that are available. And now a new specialty consulting feature focuses on helping callers with the trials and tribulations of military transition and moves.

Think of it like a concierge service. You are getting ready for a huge shift in life. Maybe you’re PCSing to a far away land and have absolutely no clue on what kind of resources, housing and help might await you. You just don’t know what you don’t know – but you have to start knowing it in a hurry or you’re going to find yourself in minor crises.

Military officials’ solution: the new PCS specialty consultation. Not only can the consultants do research for you on different options at your upcoming duty station, but they can help you develop task lists for your moves and make sure you’ve thought of all the different things you need to do before go.

And the resource seems like it could be even better for helping with transition out of the military. Talk about a stressful time. You are supposed to be able to attend your service member’s transition classes, but they are always “space available” (code for “they might turn you away at the door”) and during the day when you have kids or are working. And not only are you probably doing yet another military move – but when you get to the other side you won’t have the predictable on-base housing and an instant job for your service member waiting. Unless you are retiring or going reserve, you won’t have access to base at all. You’re really out on your own with this one. (Even writing about this is really stressing me out.)

The transition consultants can help you with an action plan, hook you up with the details you need (and perhaps help you solve the great mystery of applying for and receiving VA benefits) and help you create a customized portfolio addressing any special circumstances  you might have, such as a child with special needs. Their goal is to make a hugely stressful thing just a tiny bit easier to navigate.

The master minds over at the military family policy office who developed these offerings said they didn’t do it because they think spouses are too stupid to help themselves. They did it, they said, because even the scrappiest among us could use a helping hand now and then.

“We know that events that cause stress also challenge the most competent people,” said Debbie Maraia who manages Military One Source's non-medical counseling services. “These consultations are all aimed at preventing crises.”

As more and more military members get ready to go back to civilian life, officials knew they had to grow and bend One Source to respond to the needs of the community.

“There’s a focus on [transition] and … we understand there are a lot of ways the specialty consultations lend themselves to supporting these quality of life changes,” she said.

One of the keys of the new service, Maraia said, is that your consultant will never change. The person who helps you set up your action plan will be the same person you talk to again for updates and the same person who can check in with you to see how it is going and whether or not you need any additional help. That continuity is just another thing to ease the stress, she said. Knowing you’re not going to have to explain every detail of your situation every time you call is just one less burden to carry.

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