By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2012 – With military moving season about to kick into high gear, officials are urging service members to book their moving dates early and to remain as flexible as possible when doing so.
Careful planning is vital to ensuring a smooth move, especially during the busiest season, John Johnson, branch chief for the personal property directorate quality assurance division, told the Pentagon Channel. The directorate, part of the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, manages the personal property program for the Defense Department.
Each year, about 225,000 DOD and Coast Guard household goods shipments are slated for movement during the summer months, officials said. With school out for the summer, or about to be, many parents view that stretch of time as the least disruptive for a family move and set their sights on moving over the Memorial Day or Fourth of July weekends to take advantage of the extra days off.
But this moving cluster can create a backlog for officials, Johnson said, as military shipments compete with private-sector moves during the peak moving season.
“We move almost half of the folks we move in the DOD in the summertime,” he said, noting the “peak of the peak” season takes place toward the end of June through the Fourth of July. Service members who are set on moving around this time may run into some roadblocks when trying to lock in specific dates. However, they can tip the odds in their favor by booking their moving dates early, essentially beating the moving rush, and keeping flexibility in mind when doing so, Johnson advised.
“If you go with a specific time in mind and can’t move outside of that, it makes it more challenging,” he explained.
Johnson noted some exceptions to this rule, particularly when service members have a limited time frame in which they can move. In these cases, he advises troops consider a personally procured move, formerly known as a do-it-yourself move, where members find their own movers or move their household goods themselves and then file for reimbursement.
DOD service members, civilians and their families have two options to manage moves, officials said. First, they can visit their local installation transportation office or personal property shipping office to start the move process. Or, they can use the Defense Personal Property System, known as DPS, which can be accessed through move.mil. This website is the portal for DPS and the one-stop shop where members can completely manage their move process, officials explained.
Meanwhile, people can create a personal moving calendar with checklists, phone numbers and links to helpful information, Johnson suggested.
He also suggests people rifle through their garage or basement and get rid of unwanted items to reduce their shipment’s weight. “No one wants to get a bill for being overweight” on their shipment, he said, referring to authorized weight allowances based in part on rank or civilian pay grade.
A quick method for estimating weight is to calculate about 1,000 pounds per room, officials said, or by using the weight estimator on move.mil.
Johnson also stressed the importance of taking the time after the move to fill out a customer satisfaction survey, which serves as a “scorecard” for transportation service providers. Providers get business or don’t get business based on their survey scores, he explained, providing incentive for moving companies to do a good job. “Higher scores mean more business,” he said.
Johnson also pointed out that the process to file a claim for missing or damaged property has changed. People formerly filed a claim through the military claims office. But now, people initiate the claim process through the online system. The carrier then contacts people directly to discuss how to get estimates or repairs.
People who are having issues with this process aren’t on their own, Johnson stressed. They can contact their local military claims officer for guidance and advice.
For questions or concerns about the moving process, people should stop by their local personal property shipping office or installation transportation office, Johnson advised.
(Mitch Chandran of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command contributed to this article.)