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Question from a Reader – PCSing!

May 19, 2010

A reader emailed me with a question for us –  can y’all help out here?


I’d like to reach out to readers to help me to understand our rights, entitlements and responsibilities for our first major PCS. Thank you to everyone in advance for your help!

My husband (a 2ndLt in the Marine Corps) and I will be PCSing soon (DC to San Diego). My husband is at the Infantry Officer Course in Quantico right now, so there isn’t the traditional base support system there for us.

Ideally, we’d like to ship our car across country (cost: $998) and fly to CA. (I’d even be willing to pay for our own airline tickets if the gov’t will pay to ship our car.) However, I’ve been told that the military will only reimburse us to drive out there (mileage & per diem) – and that there are no other options.

This doesn’t make sense to me, mostly because it would actually be cheaper for them to ship our car AND pay for our plane tickets. The government will pay mileage at $.36/mile which comes to .36 x 2,990 = $1076 PLUS eight days of per diem (there is confusion around whether we both get the per diem amount or if I would get less). The per diem rate is $116 x 8 days = $928 (which I just calculated for one person, but it would cover TWO plane tickets). It would also save us money since I wouldn’t have to take time off from work to drive out there (I am going to be able to telework – yay!).

What I am looking for is some answers. Do I just need to suck it up and drive cross-country with my husband (which wouldn’t be all bad)? Who can I turn to to find out what our options are?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 6:57 am

    While I’ve never had to PCS, I know the military doesn’t care if anyone has to take off 8 days or 8 minutes at a civilian job, spouse or not. Maybe the Marines have a different attitude, but as the wife or an Army Reservist, that’s the attitude they have towards our jobs.

    As for the vehicle, I’ve only heard of them being shipped to Germany, Hawaii, places where you have to fly over water to reach them. I could be wrong, but I think you’re gonna have to drive it, sell it or pay to ship it out of pocket.

  2. HilBJ permalink
    May 19, 2010 8:59 am

    I am in the process of a PCS as well and the army’s expectation was that we would drive out our car, and like you it would be cheaper for them to ship it than to pay all the per diem expenses plus a “bonus” for me traveling with my husband. Made no sense at all, until I realized that we could pay to ship our car and then have a nice little bonus for us!

  3. May 19, 2010 9:03 am

    I ditto Silver Star.

    Also, the money should be given to you in advance and you must keep the receipts for any additional reimbursements or proof of how you spent the money.

    Our first PCS was from FL to HI
    1. We drove from FL to CA and had our car shipped from CA. We had to option to have the car shipped from FL, but we made it a family trip.
    2. They only ship your vehicle if you are going overseas…Hawaii is kinda considered overseas for this purpose.
    3. Per diem should be alloted for you and your dh, it might be bigger as your family is bigger.
    4. We actually didn’t get our advance pay for this move (they lost paperwork, which is common), so we saved every single receipt…including food, gas, and lodging

    We’ved PCS’ed from HI to Italy(him)/WA(us) and then from WA to CA. Each move we saved our receipts and still received a little reimbursement back from the advance pay. Also, they will only pay mileage for 1 vehicle! And we were able to use part of our money for a deposit on our rental.

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