FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As the military community continues prime permanent change of station season, the Fort Rucker Office of the Staff Judge Advocate stresses the importance of being prepared.

According to Capt. Nicholas Bartholomew, Fort Rucker client services chief, proper precautions can help make PCSing smoother.

"Every Soldier who leaves Fort Rucker will attend a briefing from the legal assistance office that covers best practices for (their) permanent change of station move and navigating the claims process," he said. "One of the most important things to remember when PCSing is to document -- take pictures beforehand, make sure you agree with how the carrier has noted your goods and file any claims within the designated timeframes.

Many Soldiers at Fort Rucker are dealing with their first military move. Whether Soldiers are arriving here for a long-term flight school or departing from advanced individual training, the following tips and guidelines are a strong starting point to educate themselves on this process and to protect their belongings in a move.

People with questions regarding a PCS move or who need information on how to file a claim can contact the legal assistance office for help.

Below are several tips that can serve as helpful guidelines in preparing your move.

1. Video record or photograph everything pre-move. Include televisions and gaming systems (date stamp photos or use current newspaper for date). Record a video of working appliances and electronic devices, including applications on smart televisions.

2. Appraise antiques and special items. Scan a copy of the appraisal and keep the original in a safe place.

3. Keep and scan receipts for expensive items.

4. Use locks and anti-pilfer packing tape to pack foot lockers and tough boxes.

5. Make sure items with serial numbers (and small, valuable items) are recorded on high-value item sheets.

6. Label all Blu-ray discs, video games and DVDs. List them on inventory sheets. If they are not listed on the inventory sheet and get lost during the move, then they cannot be claimed as a loss.

7. Owners should not sign anything they don't agree with (especially condition codes). If they don't agree, write "I take exception."

8. Get a friend or family member to help watch the moving crew.

9. Don't pack any currency and hand-carry all jewelry.

10. Note inclement weather at the time of move.

11. If it isn't on the inventory sheet, it probably can't be claimed if it is lost or damaged.

12. When receiving household goods, owners should make note of any damage to boxes when they unpack. Use a mobile device to photograph damage and be sure to take a picture of inventory tag for easier claims filing.

13. Owners should not initial high-value items sheet or sign it until they physically see the items. Open the box to ensure its presence and condition.

14. Make the moving crew unpack boxes. If they don't, owners have to pay to have trash hauled away and they may have issues if something is broken.

15. Movers must reassemble everything moving and packing crews disassemble.

16. File all claims within the time limits - no more than 75 days.

17. Keep all moving documents.

18. If owners have problems, OSJA suggests they call the quality assurance technician at the destination transportation office while the movers and packers are still there.

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