PCS Syndrome

PCS Syndrome

BY:  Garland Davis

Long ago, during the seventies, I read a paper written by a Navy Psychologist.  The subject of the paper was Navy enlisted members’ lives after retiring from active duty.  The doctor chose one hundred names of personnel who had been retired for at least twenty years from the retired list.  The list consisted prominently of Chief and First Class Petty Officers with a few Second Class Petty Officers.

Twelve of the one hundred were deceased, leaving her with a population of eighty-eight persons. She contacted each of them and asked them to provide a detailed list of jobs held after retirement and locations in which they had lived.  Nineteen declined to participate leaving a study population of sixty-nine.

I don’t remember the percentages of her results.  I have searched the internet for the paper.  I am not sure it was ever published.  She was at Balboa in San Diego when she did the study.  I read it in a waiting room at the hospital while waiting to see a dermatologist.

As closely as I remember, the majority of responders reported changing jobs a number of times after retiring.  Many also changed residences periodically.  One individual retired in the South, after two years he moved to the Midwest, then a few years later to Alaska, then on to the Panama Canal Zone, and finally back to the Midwest. Those who retired and stayed in one area tended to change jobs or residences periodically.

I was thinking about this the other day as a subject for my Blog.  After I retired, I worked as a Manager and District Manager for a fast food chain for a couple of years.  I then moved to another fast food chain as Area Manager for a year. I worked as a consultant and Adjunct Faculty for a university for another year.  I drove a taxi for a couple of years.  I then started a taxi leasing company which I operated for over twenty years while continuing to drive.

I had a neighbor, a bubblehead, living across the street from me, who after retiring, worked for a Navy contractor for a few years.  He then sold out and moved to Texas, where he drove a truck, did estimating and sold roofing, sold air conditioning, and now does estimates for Home Depot.

The Psychologist found that over fifty percent of the subjects in her study continued to the live out their lives adhering to the PCS system they had become accustomed to in the Navy.  Some relocated long distances, some just across town, and many lived in one location but tended to change jobs every two or three years.  A few retired back to their hometowns settled into stable jobs.

The doctor called this phenomenon of periodic change the “PCS Syndrome.”  I don’t recall the psychological reasoning she attributed this propensity to that caused many of us to PCS ourselves periodically, a system that we had lived under for at least twenty years.

The only place I have a desire to relocate to these days is Branson, MO for about a week every May to attend the Asia Sailor Westpac’rs Reunion.

The most fun you’ll ever have with your clothes on!


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A native of North Carolina, Garland Davis has lived in Hawaii since 1987. He always had a penchant for writing but did not seriously pursue it until recently. He is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University, where he majored in Business Management. Garland is a thirty-year Navy retiree and service-connected Disabled Veteran.