Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pentagon Gouge: PCS Check-Out

Tuesday was my last official day of walking the halls of the Pentagon as I rushed by many offices to finish my PCS check-out sheets.  Just like the check-in process, I had three separate check-OUT sheets: one for the OPNAV Staff Support office, one for the N-code Secretariat, and one for my specific office.  I was able to knock out almost all of the administrative stuff in a day speed-walking around the Pentagon and Crystal City.

Here are a few pointers for anyone else in the audience following in my footsteps and PCSing out of the National Capital Region and back to sea duty again (nudge nudge wink wink - you know who you are):

1.  Don't wait for PSD to send you a transfer package.  It required an active ping from me to get them to send me my transfer package a week before I detached.  The OPNAV Support office will tell you who your transfer clerk is over at PSD Anacostia.  If you call your transfer clerk, he/she will email you your transfer package so you don't have to drive over to Anacostia to pick it up.

2.  The transfer clerk will tell you that you have to submit the ENTIRE completed package or it won't be approved / endorsed by PSD.  Pages that aren't applicable need to have an N/A written on them and the sheet returned.  This would not be a big deal if you received the transfer package more than 5 business days before your detaching date.  As it was, the first day I had the transfer package in my hands, I had everything completed and ready to turn in except for one thing...

3.  The "longest pole in the tent" for completing my transfer package was the medical and dental Sea Duty Screening.  In hindsight, I could have gotten ahead of this even before I received my transfer package.  I recommend starting this part of your PCS early.

I went to NNMC Bethesda to get my Sea Duty Screening done.  I don't have any data to suggest the Army DiLorenzo Clinic at the Pentagon wouldn't be able to properly complete a Navy Sea Duty Screening.  However, the Medical Readiness office at NNMC Bethesda is in the business of doing Sea Duty and Overseas Duty screenings.  It's their raison d'etre.  As I've mentioned before, I have been pleased each time I have gone there to get my Physical Health Assessment (PHA), and I continue to be impressed with how smoothly they completed my Sea Duty Screening. 

Even with the friendly and professional staff in the Medical Readiness office, there were a few things that took some time that I wish I had done sooner.

- PPD.  I learned something new.  PPD tests are only required once every 3 years... UNLESS you are transferring to Sea Duty.  If you are transferring to Sea Duty, then you must have one within the last year. 


Poke me in the arm and come back 48 hours later to have the corpsman verify I didn't react.

- HIV.  You have to have an HIV test within the last year prior to transfer.  It takes them 2 weeks to analyze the results. 

- Dental.  As you know, the Navy shifted to this strategy where you have your annual dental check-up and your PHA done in your birth month, which for me is in September.  Low and behold, here it is August and I'm trying to get my Sea Duty screening done, so it's been 11 months since my last dental exam.  They wanted to do my annual exam now. 

The Dental Readiness clinic personnel at NNMC Bethesda were also very friendly and professional and eager to help get me out the door to serve my country on the pointy-end of the spear.  However, they did the annual "check-up" and found something odd on one of my teeth.  They were VERY cautious about signing off on me going to Sea Duty and would NOT put pen-to-paper until they were absolutely sure everything was good-to-go.  This meant extra X-rays of the roots of one of my teeth and special tests of the tooth with electric probes, hot water, and cold ice stuff, and a consult with an  endodontist

In the end, everything worked out fine, but I had to spend a Friday afternoon and a Monday afternoon up at NNMC Bethesda to get it all done, and that was with the very helpful, supportive NNMC staff who do Sea Duty Screenings for a living and are intimately familiar with the rules and PUSHING to get it all done so I could get out the door on time.  I'm not sure I would wager money that a non-Navy clinic would have gotten that done correctly or in-time.

So to sum it up:

1. Kudos and many thanks to the superb staff at NNMC Bethesda's Medical Readiness and Dental Readiness clinics. 

2.  If you're expecting to detach in the near future, get thee to the Medical and Dental Readiness clinics, get your PPD and HIV and annual dental exam done NOW so that your Sea Duty screening will be a breeze.

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