4 Ways to Find Joy in Your New Duty Station
by Rheanna Christine - September 14th, 2022
What do you do when assigned to a horrible duty station? The middle-of-nowhere, “not anywhere on my dream sheet” PCS location. Military families talk about the worst duty locations, what to do if you hate your new home, and how to prepare for the worst. You put a call out to all your military spouse friends to fully prepare yourself for the horrors that await you, and you just know you will be miserable!
But what if you chose to find the joy in your next duty station? What if you went in finding out all the things that make that location special? The people who live there and call that place home might be the most valuable resource of all.
How military families make a new duty station feel like home
You get the word that you are headed to “insert your worst nightmare location here,” and you start panicking. Soon you are an anxiety-riddled stress ball, and there’s no going back. I know! I get it, and I’ve worried about those same things. But there are a few things you can do to help ease the transition when you're PCSing somewhere you don't think you'll love.
1. Research your community before PCSing
Check out their local tourism page or community page. Even the weirdest places have something. Every place has someone who loves living there, even Minot, North Dakota!! (Am I right, Air Force?) Search for local bloggers that live in that area. They are an amazing resource because part of their job is to love their community!
Want to get the real info about a location? Ask other military families who live there. You can connect through Facebook pages and groups before your move. You can also read neighborhood reviews on PCSgrades, all written by fellow military families. And you can read our Area Guide for your duty station, to learn more about where to live, schools, housing prices, BAH rates, restaurants, local attractions, and more!
2. Live in your local community
It’s easy as a military family to simply move to your next location and simply assimilate into the ready-made military community on base there. But a sure-fire way to connect yourself with your new community is to live in it.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to actually live off-base, but it’s always an option. Living in your community means to get involved in your community, get your kids involved in your local community. Where we live now we joined our neighborhood pool, we attend our town meetings, and our kids are involved in off-base sports and events. The military community is always an option, but to connect yourself to the outside community is to connect yourself to the town.
3. It's all about perspective
A friend said to me, “I feel like people forget how hard it is to be left behind.” We are always thinking about what it is like to be the one that leaves. But those we leave behind will have to face military families moving out of their communities yet again in another three years. We end up putting each other at arm's distance because of this, and that does a great disservice to ourselves and anyone else we come into contact with. Connecting with someone in the community could be what makes or breaks this time for you. Change your perspective.
Sometimes moves aren’t easy, and some locations are just harder than others. You have to find the good in where you are. If you’re going to be there for longer than a few months finding a way to invest in your community makes sense. Isolating yourself and focusing on the negative only harms you and make it seem more miserable than it has to be. Research your community, then jump right in!
4. Do your homework
One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in your new location is to do your homework. PCSgrades.com offers reviews on base housing, local neighborhoods, realtors, moving companies and more. Fellow military and veteran families offer their take on what they like and maybe don’t like about their duty station, their neighborhood, commute times, schools etc. Take advantage of this great resource when you are starting to put the pieces together in figuring out your new duty station. Learning the lay of the land is the beginning of finding joy in your new duty station!