How To Get Out Of Pcs Orders?



Understanding PCS Orders

Before we dive into the various ways to get out of PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders, let’s take a moment to understand what they are. For those not familiar with military jargon, PCS orders refer to the official documentation that directs service members to move from one duty station to another.

PCS orders are usually issued every few years and can come as an exciting or daunting prospect, depending on personal circumstances. While many embrace new assignments as an opportunity for growth and adventure, sometimes life throws unexpected curveballs our way.

Here, we will explore some strategies and possible avenues you can consider if you find yourself seeking alternatives or exemptions from your PCS orders.

Assessing your options: The Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to navigating through the intricacies of sidestepping PCS orders, it is crucial to approach the situation strategically. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:


  1. Do familiarize yourself with all relevant regulations and policies pertaining to PCS orders in your branch of service.
  2. Do communicate openly with your chain of command about any extenuating circumstances that may influence your ability to relocate.
  3. Do reach out for support from family readiness groups and other resources available within your military community.
  4. Do maintain a positive attitude throughout the process, even if things don’t go exactly as planned.


  1. Don’t attempt dishonesty or fraudulence, such as falsifying documents or deceiving superiors in hopes of avoiding PCS orders.
  2. Don’t wait until the last minute before taking action—start exploring potential options early on.

Now that we have established some ground rules, let’s delve into specific methods that could help you extricate yourself from a PCS order.

Method 1: Requesting a Deferment

Should you find yourself facing PCS orders at an inconvenient time, perhaps due to personal circumstances or family factors, one possible course of action is requesting a deferment. A deferment essentially buys you more time before being mandated to move.

The Art of the Justification: Convincing Reasons for Deferment

When putting forth your request for a deferment, it’s important to present compelling and valid reasons that can bring weight to your case. Some situations that could warrant consideration for deferment include:

Family Medical Issues

If you have an immediate family member who requires ongoing medical treatment or specialized care, presenting this as the primary reason for your deferred PCS might resonate with decision-makers in your chain of command.

“In my situation, my partner has recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness that demands regular hospital visits and specialized treatment. As their primary caregiver, it would be immensely challenging for us to uproot our lives and establish new healthcare providers in another location at this critical juncture. ”

Spousal Employment Constraints

Military spouses often face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining steady employment due to frequent relocations. If your spouse holds a stable job in the current location or has recently secured employment after significant effort, highlighting this predicament may strengthen your chances of achieving a deferment.

Consider relaying something like:

“My spouse was fortunate enough to secure satisfactory employment just three months ago after battling unemployment for over six months post our previous PCS assignment. Another relocation would jeopardize their newfound stability and hinder our long-term financial goals. “

Education Interruptions

If relocating mid-school year would disrupt the education of child dependents or impede their academic progress significantly, it is worth emphasizing this aspect as well. In such cases, including supporting documentation from school authorities can bolster the strength of your deferment request.

“My child has been thriving in their current school, and abruptly interrupting their education mid-term would not only be detrimental to their progress but also make it challenging for them to integrate into a new educational environment. “

By articulating your unique set of circumstances effectively, you can increase the likelihood of obtaining a successful deferment that aligns with the needs of both you and your family.

Method 2: Seeking Assignment Cancellation

In certain situations, PCS orders may be canceled altogether if valid justification is presented that convinces decision-makers of the necessity. While this method requires more intensive effort, it can prove fruitful if you have substantial grounds for requesting cancellation.

Involuntary Stabilization: When PCS Orders Must Take A Backseat

One possible avenue to explore when seeking assignment cancellation is citing involuntary stabilization. Involuntary stabilization refers to policies put in place by military branches that limit relocations under specific circumstances.

Medical Reasons

If you or an immediate family member is grappling with medical issues that render relocation impractical or risky, citing medical reasons may persuade authorities to cancel your PCS orders. This could include conditions such as ongoing treatments, surgeries, or psychological challenges where continuity of care proves crucial.

“Due to my debilitating back problem and recent spinal surgery recommendation from my orthopedic specialist, moving at this juncture poses an imminent risk to my health and recovery process. “

Exceptional Family Circumstances

For those facing significant familial challenges such as divorce proceedings, custody battles, domestic violence concerns or cases involving special-needs dependents requiring additional support systems locally—highlighting these exceptional family circumstances might help sway decisions in your favor during a request for assignment cancellation.

Consider outlining something like:

“Given our unpredictable situation following the recent incident documented with local authorities regarding threats towards our family’s safety from an estranged ex-spouse residing within the projected PCS location area—the recommended course of action would be to cancel the assigned PCS order. “

Seven Agency Location Agreement (SALA)

In rarer cases, if you and your spouse are both active-duty military members who meet specific conditions outlined in the Seven Agency Location Agreement (SALA), it might be possible to negotiate assignment cancellation.

SALA exists as a policy that recognizes the simultaneous assignments of married couples within close proximity, minimizing family separation and enabling support structures among military spouses. Such circumstances could provide substantial grounds for advocating for assignment cancellation.

By exploring these justifications with careful consideration and expert guidance if needed, you increase your chances of obtaining favorable outcomes when seeking assignment cancellations.

Method 3: A Pleading Case—Hardship Discharge

While this method should be considered only as a last resort, hardship discharge can become an avenue out of PCS orders if all other options have been exhausted. Hardship discharge refers to a request made by service members arguing that continued military service will cause severe and unmitigable hardships on themselves or their dependents.

Establishing Hardship Criteria: Creating Compelling Arguments

The criteria and definitions for what constitutes as hardship vary across different branches of the military. It is vital to understand the specific requirements set forth by your respective branch before proceeding with this approach. Here are some common factors considered under hardship discharge requests:

Physical or Mental Health Challenges

If participating in continued military service exacerbates pre-existing physiological or psychological conditions significantly, presenting supporting documentation from healthcare professionals becomes crucial when making your case for hardship discharge.

“Following my experiences during multiple deployments, I have developed severe PTSD symptoms—a condition that has increasingly impeded my ability to function effectively within high-stress environments. “

Financial Circumstances

Unforeseen financial burdens brought about by prolonged periods away from family due to frequent deployments can also serve as valid grounds for requesting hardship discharge. However, it’s important to note that proof demonstrating financial hardship must be thorough, as financial documentation scrutiny is a commonplace for such discharge requests.

Family Obligations

Instances where service members find themselves with unforeseen and critical responsibilities regarding dependent care can also qualify as significant hardships. This could include scenarios involving incapacitated family members who require constant supervision or situations arising from unanticipated primary caregiver roles.

“The sudden passing of my child’s other legal guardian has left me as the sole custodian. With no immediate family in the projected PCS location to provide assistance or support, it is crucial that I remain accessible to ensure the wellbeing of my child. “

Consider Alternatives First

Before proceeding with a hardship discharge request, it is essential to exhaust all available alternatives within military regulations and explore potential solutions provided by your chain of command—such as assignment deferments or cancellations. A successful hardship discharge should genuinely reflect an insurmountable obstacle rather than a circumventable challenge.


FAQ: How to Get Out of PCS Orders?

Q: Can I request a deferment for my PCS orders?
A: Yes, you can submit a request for deferment if you have valid reasons such as medical conditions or family emergencies. Contact your immediate superior or the Personnel Support Detachment (PSD) for guidance on the process.

Q: What are some valid reasons to cancel PCS orders?
A: Valid reasons to cancel PCS orders may include extreme personal hardship, severe medical conditions, or specific family circumstances that require your presence. Each case is evaluated individually, so it’s recommended to consult with your commanding officer or PSD about your situation.

Q: Is it possible to negotiate a cancellation of my PCS orders?
A: While negotiation isn’t guaranteed, in some cases where compelling reasons exist like critical needs of the Navy, Army, Air Force etc. , exploring the possibility with your commanding officer might be worth it. However, keep in mind that cancellations are generally subject to military guidelines and requirements.

Q: Is it possible to change my duty station after receiving PCS orders?
A: Changing duty stations after receiving PCS (Permanent Change of Station) orders is generally difficult unless there are extraordinary circumstances. It is advisable to contact the appropriate authorities within your branch/service and provide supporting evidence explaining why this change is necessary.

Q: Can I get out of PCS orders if I’m on terminal leave?
A: Generally speaking, once you are on terminal leave and separated from active duty service members cannot be reassigned due to their voluntary separation. However, it’s always advisable to consult with your commanding officer regarding any exceptional circumstances related to this matter.

Q:Is there an appeal process if my request gets denied?
A: Yes, there may be an appeal process available depending on individual cases. If your initial request for cancellation or deferment of PCS orders gets denied by higher authorities, you can inquire about the specific steps involved in appealing the decision. It’s important to follow proper channels and provide any additional documentation or evidence that could support your appeal.

Q: Are there any alternatives to getting out of PCS orders?
A: If cancellation or deferment isn’t possible, exploring available options such as requesting for a voluntary assignment swap with another service member who has received orders to the desired duty station might be an alternative worth considering. However, it’s necessary to adhere to military regulations and obtain appropriate approvals from commanding officers during this process.

Please note that every case is unique, and it’s crucial to consult with knowledgeable personnel within your branch/service for accurate guidance regarding your specific circumstances.