Airmen build upon their strengths during transition

  • Published
  • By Rosemarie Leon
  • 412th Test Wing Integrated Prevention and Resilience Office

The summer months are often associated with hot days, sun rays, and outdoor activities. For our military members and their families, this also means preparing for a permanent change of station (PCS). In my time working with military members and their families, I have learned that there are three key areas that contribute to high levels of stress during this transition. I have also learned what key practices our members and their families have put into place to build their individual and family’s resilience. In this article, we delve into the importance of connection during PCS, highlighting the challenges impacting emotional well-being and connectivity, and propose three solutions to these challenges. 

Key Challenges:

  1. Loss: The Disruption of Established Relationships
    One of the most significant challenges of PCS is leaving behind established friendships. Friends, neighbors and community networks form an essential support system that can be difficult to leave. By now, those who have been pending this transition have received their orders and are knee deep in planning and beginning to psychological prepare to bid farewell to friends who have become family. The loss of close relationships can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, exacerbating the stress associated with the move.
  2. Isolation: Adapting to New Environments
    Adapting to a new community, culture, and environment can be overwhelming. Each move requires learning new norms, navigating unfamiliar surroundings, and establishing a new daily routine. The uncertainty and novelty of a new place can induce anxiety, and a sense of being out of place, making it challenging to feel connected. 
  3.  Family Disconnection:  Impact on Family Dynamics
    A move can disrupt family dynamics, with each member experiencing the transition differently.  Children may struggle with changing schools and making new friends, while spouses may face difficulties in finding employment or rebuilding their social networks. These individual challenges can create additional stress within the family unit, further distancing each other and affecting overall emotional well-being and connectedness.

Key Practices:

  1. Leverage Technology:  Connections through Media
    Members have shared that the use of technology has been a lifeline in staying connected to the previous community while building connections in the new community. By creating routines to maintain connections such as scheduling regular virtual calls or joining online groups related to your interest, the use of technology can bridge the two communities and maintain family and friend connections.
  2. Engaging a New Community: Exploring Shared Interests
    While seeking out opportunities to engage with the new community was described as most challenging, members and their families shared that it can significantly enhance a sense of belonging. By visit your Military Family Readiness Center (MFRC) or the USO, members learned about community events, enrolled in classes, trainings, activities and explored their new community alongside other new arrivals exploring shared interests. 
  3. Family Support and Communication:  Strengthening Family Bonds
    Ensuring open and supportive communication within the family is crucial during a move. Members and their families described this as the “silent” disruptor in a transitional period. Holding regular family meetings to discuss the transition, validating each other’s feelings, and planning activities to strengthen family bonds and help everyone adapt to change was described as the “best support”. Skills in this area can be strengthened by engaging in 1:1 or family counseling, exploring activities on Military One Source, meeting with your children’s teacher or leveraging other members in your tribe, to open conversations on how each member of the family is feeling about the transition and encourage expressing any concerns or expectations.

By recognizing and addressing the challenges of a PCS, military members and their families can better navigate this significant transition.  Utilizing available resources such as Military OneSource, The USO, and Military Family Readiness Center can provide essential support and information. Below are quick links to resources:
Create A Custom Military PCS Moving Checklist | Plan My Move (
Non-medical, Confidential Counseling | Military OneSource
Edwards AFB Helping Agencies & Leaders' Tool Box (