Networking before a PCS

Inevitably there will come a time when you have to move. Transferring to a new unit or attending a school can be a difficult experience, with a great deal of valid concern as unknowns mount. Fear is a difficult opponent to slay, but knowledge helps. As you learn the actual facts, the fears become more specific, and easier to deal with. If you don’t know what the conditions are like where you are going, or what to expect, you can face paralysis from the overwhelming possibilities. If you could simply talk to someone already there and find out that there is housing available but you are better off staying off post in reasonably priced apartments due to scheduled renovations which would force you to move again anyway, then you can plan around these facts.

When going to a school or new unit, if you could reach someone already there and ask what the cadre is like, or how strictly the standards are enforced, you can get used to the idea and perhaps even adjust your plans for how to behave or what else to do while you are on site.

It may even be that you can find or create friends before you arrive. Being able to create a friend or at least a friendly acquaintance before you arrive can go a long way towards defusing the dread of a new situation.

This isn’t merely for soldiers; spouses and children will also face the same dread of the unknown and can use connections over social networking sites to find people and information from the new location. This might mean learning what entertainment is available or more practical considerations like the options for laundry service and sewing, but each thing you can learn before the crisis is one less thing that will zing around inside your head while you are frantically dealing with the myriad of issues involved in a change of station.

The unknown is one of the toughest foes to face. Not knowing enough about a new situation to do anything is a recipe for panic. The worst part of this is when you let yourself spin helplessly around without enough knowledge to do anything. Not only can this lead to panic, but also panic is contagious. Once started it can feed on itself as others begin to panic and it is extremely difficult to regain control of the situation. The best way to deal with panic is to find something you can actually do about a situation, and do it. Even if it turns out not to be the best possible option, it isn’t unusual to learn enough to find the better plans once you start.

The military teaches us that before an operation, we conduct a reconnaissance. This is merely a recon operation conducted by a somewhat less orthodox means.