After the PCS, How to Find a Sense of Community at Your New Base

Vanessa Arthur, 60th Inpatient Squadron psychiatric technician and early intervention substance abuse counselor, takes a pinch of corn pollen at Travis Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force/Chustine Minoda)

Does the post-PCS prospect of finding a new community of friends at your new home sound as daunting as the move itself?

Even so, if you "go out there and show up and take that first step," you might find your stint at that new location more personally rewarding, said Air National Guard spouse Tawny Trottier Cale, an activist and small business owner.

"You don't have to love the location. You don't have to love the weather. But if you have a community there, it can sure make up for those two things," Cale said.

In an episode of the "PCS with" podcast, Cale, who has moved nine times in her 15-year marriage -- most recently into base housing in Great Falls, Montana -- shared some of her experiences in making new connections after a move.

Find Groups Geared to Your Culture or Personal Passions

An enrolled citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as well as the descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the Spirit Lake Nation, Cale founded the business where she and her three sisters work -- Sister Beads -- in part to share her culture.

"I really think that you're doing yourself a disservice by not staying connected to your culture or to whatever community you want to be affiliated with," Cale said. "You are missing out on those connections, ... and you're also robbing your children of those potential connections as well."

She has made connections with her cultural background through her kids' school district, which has "a really great Indian education program, and that's really one of my passions, education."

Among activist groups, in particular, "just showing up makes a huge difference," Cale said. "A lot of times, groups that are working toward some end, quite frankly, there's never enough people."

Know Your 'Why'

Cale said her background in direct sales taught her the principle of "just knowing your 'why,'" she said.

"Why are you doing this? Why do you want to do it? ... Having a good knowledge and understanding about why this particular issue, why this particular part of you, is important ... is really important for wanting to find your community."

Rely on Your Existing Connections

Military spouses who have already moved around a lot often have made friends or acquaintances along the way who can connect you with new friend prospects at your new base, Cale said.

"When we moved to where we live now, I had three or four people message me and say, 'Oh, hey, if you're moving there, I know this person who lives there," Cale said. "If somebody you know thinks you'll like this person, chances are, they're right."

-- Amanda Miller can be reached at

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