Welcoming Military Families to Your Community

Each year more than 400,000 service members and their families receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS), requiring them to move across the state, the country, or the world to a new duty station. On average, military families move every 2 to 3 years, which is 3x as often as civilian families. PCS moves can present a unique set of challenges for military families including school transitions, employment challenges, financial burdens, and the loss of a trusted support network. Approximately two-thirds of military families live off base in civilian communities.  As neighbors, there are things we can do to support military families and help ease their transition. Here are some ideas:

  • Welcome Military Families – Small acts can have a big impact. Create a warm welcome for military families in your neighborhood, simply by introducing yourself. Offer recommendations on your favorite restaurants, local shops, or parks to help military families familiarize themselves with the community. Military spouse Nicole adds, “”When you move somewhere new, you really have a LOT to figure out again, but I’ve always appreciated getting the insider tips and recommendations from my neighbors – farmers markets and local events, dog parks, restaurants, things to do in the area.  And it gives us the chance to learn more about each other’s interests!”
  • Lend a Helping Hand – Offering practical assistance to military families during a PCS move can be tremendously helpful.  Offer a playdate to pet sit or to help assemble furniture. Liz, a military spouse, shares the generosity she experienced during a PCS, “New neighbors offered to let our kids play at their house while we unpacked. It was incredibly helpful and supportive.”  
  • Ask Meaningful Questions – Instead of making assumptions about a military family’s experience, ask questions. Sadie, a military spouse offers perspective as she embarks on another PCS move, “Recently, someone said to me, ‘Your PCS moves must be so exciting!’ While the comment was well-intentioned, I was overcome with emotion thinking about leaving a community and job I love, after comforting my son that morning who was crying about having to leave his friends.” Instead of making broad statements, take the initiative to ask thoughtful questions such as, “How are you doing?”, “How is your family adjusting?”, or “Is there anything I can do to support you?”