APRIL 20, 2021 – Every military move can encounter unique challenges. However, there’s a team of people whose prime focus is to help Families navigate those challenges, and alleviate stress when they have to watch all their belongings ride off on a truck.
A large portion of permanent change of station moves consist of movers coming into Soldiers’ homes to pack and load household goods. The Fort Knox Transportation Office oversees every step of the process, which is designed to make things easier on Families, said installation Transportation officer Horace Bowden.
“Especially if you’re a Family with young kids and you want to relieve that stress, let them come in,” said Bowden. “You sit back and monitor.”
Bowden said there are two keys to getting a PCS started on the right foot: visit Transportation right away; and, be proactive about the process.
Oftentimes, Families will book vacations and plan schedules prior to having a counseling session with his office. Then they’re disappointed when pack dates they expected to get are unavailable.
“When people get ready to make their moves, they plan their vacation. They make their housing appointments, [and] they get a date in their head when they want to get out,” said personal property lead Melissa Davis. “They make all these plans and build this house of cards, and then they come see us. Then we have to tumble it for them.
“We’re the first stop they need to make.”
Once Soldiers meet with Transportation, Bowden said they should concentrate on getting organized. He explained it’s helpful to have a designated room or area to store any items that aren’t to be packed and loaded on the truck.
Bowden also pointed out a common misconception regarding required delivery dates. He said while it’s frequently assumed they refer to the date that goods will be dropped off, RDDs actually reflect the date the truck simply has to arrive at the new duty station’s area.
This can be an unwelcome surprise for those who weren’t aware their household goods will then be stored until a team is available to unload them.
“A lot of Families will say, ‘The RDD says 1 June, but I can’t get my property until 21 June!’” said Bowden. He explained this commonly happens because the company is booked during peak season.
In addition to Transportation guiding Soldiers and Families through the moving process, it also ensures the workers who are contracted to pack, move and store household goods are following the policies that are in place. Bowden said while quality control inspectors keep an eye on things, Families still need to be vigilant when they see something amiss.
“Engage quality control right away as problems arise,” said Bowden. “[Inspectors] are out there every single day, so when someone has a problem, [inspectors] can cite for nonperformance.”
According to Bowden, it can be difficult for Family members who spot a problem to not react to it because stress levels are already high, and it’s easy to want to resolve problems right then.
“Your reaction as a Family member and Soldier is, ‘I’m sick and tired of PCSing, and I want it done now!’” said Bowden. “But what you should do is stop, step back outside, call quality control; they will physically come out on the spot and say, ‘Mover, you’re not to standard. Get to standard!’”
While the goal is to have all moves go smoothly, Bowden acknowledged it’s not always possible.
He described a time his office received reports of mold. Inspectors were then sent to investigate the situation.
“We found that the warehouse was not to standard,” said Bowden. “[We] wrote them up, and they were suspended.”
When situations of damage do arise, there is a thorough claims process in place to help Families recoup any losses. Bowden said his office serves in the advisory role for this process, and is always ready to answer any questions. He also highly encouraged everyone to complete the customer satisfaction survey after a PCS.
Bowden said just a fraction of Families fill surveys out, not realizing what they can accomplish.
“It’s very important because 38% of Families turn that survey in Army-wide, but 95% of them that turn it in say the move was great, an A+,” said Bowden. He explained this doesn’t help Transportation capture the whole picture from moves that go bad.
As a small number of Families filling out the surveys provide mostly good feedback, according to Bowden, many others take to social media to complain about their negative experiences. Without accurate information, unsatisfactory contractors don’t get held accountable.
While no two PCS experiences are the same, Bowden said the Transportation office is always centered on the best interests of Soldiers and Families to keep their property protected and provide as much information as possible:
“There are resources available to help at every single point.”
For all military PCS-related questions, or to create a profile for an upcoming move, visit https://move.mil.
Story by Jenn DeHaan