Your First Move and Duty Station
I do get lots of questions from new recruits on how they go about moving themselves, their families and their stuff.
Towards the middle or end of AIT, you should be getting your orders telling you where your first unit of assignment will be. Once you have your orders in hand, you can make an appointment at your Transportation Office (each post has one; you can find an example, HERE). Here you will make the arrangements to have your household goods moved from your home of record to your first duty station. There are weight allowances, according to your rank, so be sure to check those out HERE. If you are single, do not take a lot with you! You will either be staying in a consolidated barracks area (where soldiers live together from all different units on post) or your unit will have its own barracks space. The rooms will be furnished, usually with a bed, lamps, dressers, desks and closet space. Storage place will be very limited. Some posts will have barracks with storage in the basement, others will have just your closet in your room. You may also end up sharing a bathroom with another soldier in an adjoining room, or have to use a bathroom down the hall. In the last 15 years the military has been upgrading a lot of the old barracks space. This barracks upgrade is part of the Single Soldier Initiative. So, you could find anything from very nice dorm-style one man rooms (with sharing a bathroom) to three people to a room with a bathroom down the hall. To find out what your post has, you can go to your post's website and find the housing link there to find out more specifics for that post.
As far as shipping your household goods, it should be just fine for you to ship things such as a TV, stereo system, your clothing, computers, bikes and that kind of thing, but be careful about having everything you own packed up. Space can be limited and then you'll end up renting one of those storage garage spaces off post to store all your stuff.
For those of you who will be having their families move with them (your orders will say this; most tours are accompanied), it will be an accompanied tour for you. Most times, there is no problem with what you bring if you are bringing your family, but just in case you have a lot of heavy items, it pays to look ahead (because if you go over the limit, you do end up spending money out of pocket). Check out the HHG Weight Allowance Chart link to your left. You will also get sent to the Travel Office to make arrangements for how you and your family will get there. Depending on how far you have to travel, you will either make arrangements for plane travel or make arrangements to get reimbursed for driving your car there (this goes for single people too). You will also get travel pay that will offset some of your moving expenses. Moving always costs money, so you may end up paying some of your expenses out of pocket when all is said and done. Please do be prepared for this and save up. You can also request for an advance pay or apply for an ACS Loan (again, it must be an emergency for a loan, and you have to document your need for it). You may also want to ask about Permissive TDY. This is a "free" 10 days that is not charged against you as leave. It is supposed to be used for house hunting. I don't know if new soldiers are authorized this, but it's a nice thing to know about in order to save your leavetime!
Speaking of leavetime, you will be able to take some time off for leave between AIT and your first duty station in most cases. Again, you earn 2.5 days leave for every month you are in the Army. If you used leave during holiday EXODUS, then you don't have a lot saved up to use. As a general rule, you cannot take leave if you do not have the days saved up.
As far as single soldiers go, you will get some of the same entitlements as those moving with their families will get. One thing I get asked alot, will single soldiers be able to live off-post if they want to or if they can get a roommate and get something together. The answer to this is no. NCOs can get special permission to stay off post (it is up to the post commander eventually), but you can forget it as a lower enlisted soldier. There may be some remote locations without sufficient barracks space, and in that case it's possible that this will be allowed. Most soldiers can expect to see plenty of barracks space on post. One great thing you'll see as a single soldier is the B.O.S.S. Program (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers). This is a great program that gives better opportunities for single soldiers to get together, have fun, enjoy the community and just to have a sense of something of their own. Every post I have been to, BOSS organizes low cost trips (when I was in Germany, they regularly took trips to Italian beaches), cultural get togethers with the locals, parties and events and that type of thing.
Okay, as soon as you know where you are going, you to the S.I.T.E.S. website and read up on your new post. Lots of great info there to include what units are stationed there, housing, schools and community information and inprocessing procedures. Most units also assign a soldier as a sponsor to you. If you don't hear from one, call the unit and ask for one. This person will send you info in the mail, hopefully pick you up from the airport and give you other support you may need as a newcomer. Contact the Army Community Service (ACS) Relocation Assistance at your new post and have a Welcome Packet sent to you or you can go to the ACS at your AIT post, and they can arrange to have that sent to you also. Be sure to ask if the new post has a Spouse Employment Assistance Program if your spouse plans to work.
Call your unit to get their mailing address (where you can forward your mail). Fill out change of address cards in your hometown and use this temporary address at your new duty station (until you get settled). Send out change of address cards to everyone you do business with (bills, banks, etc). Collect all your important papers (birth certs, marriage certs, financial papers, powers of attorney, etc) and keep them all with you as you move. Don't forget your kids' school records and any civilian medical and dental records for your family. Obviously, give notice to your landlord, and have him inspect the property early enough to make sure you will not be charged for damage. Try to get that in writing. If you have pets, use the S.I.T.E.S. website to get info on boarding kennels and if you are going overseas, be familiar with all the regulations involved. Read this great article on shipping pets overseas,
HERE. Typically, in military family housing, you are only allowed two pets! Unfortunately, if you are a single soldier, you will not be allowed to keep pets. So, please do make other arrangements EARLY for your pet.
I've listed a few other sites you may find interesting:
Military Installations link at Military.com to see what units are stationed on which post, what facilities they have, housing (including family housing and barracks space) and other "need to know" info. Each post also has job assistance help for your spouse. You will find this at Army Community Service. Their info is worth a look also.