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Saying Goodbyes Without the Sadness

Counseling for family PCS challenges with Carolina Counseling Services North Fayetteville Office Fayetteville NC, Easing pain of PCS with counseling, counseling for military families Fayetteville, NC, counseling for spouse dealing with PCS

Saying Goodbyes Without the Sadness


Permanent change of station (PCS) is the “bad news” that most military families would rather not hear at all. It is what has driven teens to slam the door in anger and pushed them to sob in pain and frustration. It is what has caused confusion to children when told they cannot see or visit a best friend anymore. It is what has shaken you, sowing seeds of doubt and a sense of defeat, as you accept the fact that you must leave friends and the comfort of a familiar environment.

PCS is on equal footing with deployment; the news that a change is at hand is often met with apprehension. If a veteran military spouse looks worn-out and defeated after several PCSes, it is because they have good reasons when a new order is issued to the serviceman/woman. Permanent change of station spells changes, transitions and challenges. PCS brings trauma as you say goodbye to friends, neighbors, and old schools, jobs, neighborhoods, and churches. It can mean uncertainty, not knowing what the new station will bring.

Be comforted by the thought that you are not alone. Be strong in the knowledge that the family’s emotional baggage can be lightened as you all embrace the move and the challenges that come with it. If bringing the family out of an emotional rut is proving too much for you, seek professional help from a counseling service in the neighborhood.


PCS: A Second Look

What is “Permanent Change of Station” or PCS? It is a military order that will send your family packing and relocating to another location or “station/base.” It is “part and parcel” of military life. It is a “moving” experience, not only because of the change in station, but because it entails physical and emotional demands. As you pack away your belongings, you also “pack” feelings, hoping that nothing will be “broken” along the way.

Moving away from the place you call “home” is never easy. Rarely is anyone ever used to the notion of anticipating another PCS. The first one can be unforgettable as you and your children thread through the unfamiliar experiences– from saying goodbyes to the individual members’ friends to the adjustments in the new station. The succeeding ones can be as heartrending, especially when the growing children start to develop more serious relationships and connections. You may not readily recognize the emotions that you learn to temper through the PCSes because you can become caught up in the whirlwind of tasks involved in moving to a new location.

The emotional turmoil that comes with moving can be a highly individual experience. It can depend on the person’s age and personality. For introverts, adjusting and making friends may not come easy at all. They may feel nervous, anxious, or unsure, while extroverts may enjoy meeting new people, pals or associates. Younger children might be asking a lot of “whys,” but only to satisfy their curiosity. They tend to adjust faster, with their concern being focused mainly on whether they can make new friends in the new school and neighborhood. Teens that naturally have a full plate can have a more difficult time. Adults are generally concerned about new jobs and how the young ones will adjust to the new station.


The Impact of PCS

More than the broken (or scratched, if you’re lucky enough) family possessions and furniture that won’t fit in the new home, PCS can impact every military family member’s life.  According to Military Spouse, the real impact that a PCS has on children are:


  • Change of address
  • Change of school
  • Change of teachers
  • Change of friends
  • Change of worship
  • Change of weather
  • Change in scenery
  • Change in schedules
  • Change in routines
  • Change in neighborhoods
  • Change in activities
  • Change in housing


Aren’t all these a lot to ask from anyone, especially a child or teenager? What about asking them to go through PCS every two to four years? If the experiences are the determinants of emotional health, imagine the havoc that frequent moving can inflict on your children. It is not surprising, therefore, that “children in military families who relocate have an increased chance of struggling with emotional health problems,” says Health Behavior News Service Journal of Adolescent Health. Research reinforces what scientists have only known intuitively – that PCS can put stress on children more than adults.


PCS as a Source of Hope

Permanent Change of Station isn’t something you wish on your family, but like the many changes/challenges in life, PCS can also bring opportunities. It may not readily dawn on you or your children as you are all swamped with dismay and heavy feelings. With professional help, however, the overwhelming emotions of PCS can wane and be replaced by the eagerness to start anew. It “can be a double-edged sword. It can wreak havoc in your life, but it can also breed opportunities.”

This kind of thinking can foster positivity. Because life won’t ever be perfect, find hope in envisioning what the new environment – new home, school and workplace – can bring. Think of the move as an adventure. Though there will be difficulties, there can be fun in discovering a new activity, such as meeting potential acquaintances and pals, locating new places to shop and eat, interacting with the children’s new mentors, basking in the different weather and scenery, enjoying local attractions, etc.

It is true that there are so many “horror stories” about PCS, ranging from wrecked artwork and banged furniture to hearing and feeling your children’s doubts and pain.  Moving to a new base, however, is stimulating as it can usher fresh hopes. If a child is being bullied in school, being enrolled in a new school can offer a break and a chance to meet friendlier classmates and peers. If “old habits” are hard to break, being in a new location can motivate you to try other options and ways of doing things. With this perspective, embracing PCS and the opportunities it can bring can be easier.


Discovering the “New” Supporter in the Neighborhood

You are not alone in meeting your PCS challenges head-on. When faced with the prospect, there can be the surging of mixed emotions. If this will be your first, you could be overwhelmed with fear and uncertainties. If you are a veteran, you could be jaded, feeling rejected and hopeless, especially with a chain of difficulties and unsuccessful efforts “tucked under your belt.” Don’t lose hope. PCS can offer you a great new beginning in many aspects of your and your children’s lives. Aside from the variety of resources and support groups around your new home, a caring counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC is here in the neighborhood to help you and your family with the transition.

Even veteran military families can benefit from family therapy, whether you are about to leave Fayetteville, or you are new here. Becoming integrated to your new environment can entail adjustment. If so many things are going on and you feel emotionally overwhelmed, your ability to adjust before or after a PCS can be impaired. This isn’t something you can just overcome without professional help. To be able to gradually ease into your new environment, call us. The licensed counselors independently contracted with CCS – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC can help you understand your concerns and your children’s issues. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC
Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bowmore NC, Autryville NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Pineview NC, Rex NC, Lemon Springs NC, Johnsonville NC, Eastover NC, Stedman NC and Wade, NC
Zip Codes: 28311, 28395, 28390, 28356

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Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office, Fayetteville, NC

422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
FayettevilleNC 28311

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311

Choose your Therapist

  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, and Cash

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    Location: Fayetteville, NC