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Proper planning prevents PCS, EAS headaches

11 Jun 2010 | Pfc. Sarah Anderson

Proper preparation can make the difference between a smooth or stressful permanent change of station or end of active service date.  Understanding the steps and things to be aware of before the big date arrives is vital for a successful transition to civilian life or the next duty station.

When it comes to administration, timing is essential to proper planning, said Lance Cpl. Justin B. Salas, the Orders noncommissioned officer in charge at the Combat Center’s Installation Personnel Administration Center.

The administrative steps to take before leaving are very simple, Salas said.

“Marines have to have a data sheet. They can get it from the S-1 or from [IPAC]. It is just a data sheet, you take it and drive, it’s not as stressful.”

A data sheet is a form of personal information to let the Marine Corps know where a Marine is staying after their EAS date.

When it comes to transferring overseas, there is much more paperwork, so Marines need to make sure they give themselves enough time to fill it out. This could include filing for passports for themselves and their families, Salas said.

“As soon as you find out your Web orders, come in and see us,” he said. 

Salas said the Marines working in IPAC are always willing to talk to anyone with questions, and will lead them step-by-step through the PCS or EAS process.

“We don’t take appointments,” he explained. “You can call and walk in. Come in see us, we can tell you your options that day, we can get you out of here smoothly and efficiently, so there’s no room for error.”

The most important this in this process is to ask questions, Salas added.

Another person Marines need to see during any transition is the career planner.

“When it comes to EAS, we have to do what is called the career planners’ EAS interview and an officers’ interview,” said Master Sgt. Edward Whitaker, the installation career planner.  “We have to do interviews six to nine months prior to EAS.”

Also, Marines leaving the Corps must attend separation classes as early as a year in advance of their EAS date.

“You need a plan. What are you going to do when you get out?” said Whitaker. 

Having a job lined up, a housing plan and an automobile is key to having a successful transition into civilian life, he added.

For Marines transferring to a new duty station, the career planner ensures they have enough time left on contract to fulfill obligated service time. Many times this means a Marine has to extend or reenlist, Whitaker explained.

When it comes to a Marine’s actual move, the Traffic Management Office is the place to go. Relocating Marines have a choice whether to use a personally procured move, also called a do-it-yourself move, or a government move, said Kern Garr, the personal property supervisor for the Combat Center’s Traffic Management Office.

“If they are doing a government move, the carrier requires seven to 10 days notice,” she said. “If they’re doing a [PPM], they have to have the application done before performing the [PPM].”

Marines should look into the cost of a government move versus a PPM to see which is more costly,  Garr said.

The PPM is not always the best option for the mover, especially now that the commercial trucks are more expensive and government moves costs less, she said.

A Marine needs to call and schedule an appointment to set up their move, said John Montoya, the acting transportation officer of TMO.

TMO now has a program where non-first term Marines can apply for a move online.

“The program is Web based. For non-first term movers, you can go to the Web site at home, e-mail the application to TMO, the TMO reviews it and forwards it to a carrier,” Montoya said.

To fill out an application, go online to http://

When preparing for a move, Marines need to plan for enough time for a move to be successful.

“This being the busy season, it’s harder to accommodate what our costumers want us to get their carrier to do,” Garr said.

Marines wanting to do a PPM and apply for an advance need to allow for even more time.  The Combat Center’s TMO doesn’t have a finance center, “so the advance needs to come from [Camp] Pendleton, and they require at least 10-20 days,” Garr added.

As far as TMO is concerned, there is very little difference between a PCS move and an EAS move, Garr said.

“PCS, you’re entitled to go to your next duty station, unless you want to pay the difference. EAS, you are entitled to go to your home of record unless you want to go somewhere else and pay the difference.”

To schedule an appointment for a move or find out more information about TMO, call 830-6129.

To schedule an appointment with the career planner, call 830-6171.

To find out more about the administrative steps which need to be completed before a PCS or EAS date, call IPAC at 830-6119.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms