Preparation eases PCS moving woes
June 30, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- To many people, summer means trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and fun activities. To military members, it also means peak season for being on the move.
Soldiers who have received permanent change of station orders for the summer should allow themselves adequate time to prepare, said Jacqueline Flowers, Fort Jackson’s chief for personal property and personnel movements.
“Everybody sits and waits for school to end. Everybody’s looking for Memorial Day,” Flowers said. “You don’t just have the people who have PCS dates through the summer who are moving, you have everybody who (moved) in January wanting to move the kids out of school ... not to mention the rest of the country, whether they’re military related or not. Everybody moves when the kids are out of school.”
The need to prepare early is especially important since the DoD has been transitioning to a new system for the last few years, which brings about a number of changes to the way service members and DoD civilians move, Flowers said. The DoD’s new system " the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS " is centered around an online tool that gives service members more control over the transportation and claims process, but can also lead to complications, she explained.
“The biggest change is that we can no longer guarantee pick-up dates for the service member,” said Zelda Lee, lead counselor with the Transportation Office. “We used to be able to pick up the phone and call a local agent here in Columbia, ... but it’s not like that anymore.”
Service members who are preparing to move need to get a user ID and password for the online tool. They then can submit an application for the move. Once a transportation service provider accepts to carry out the move, the service member then negotiates the pick-up date for household goods. Unfortunately, the date may not always meet the service member’s expectations, Flowers said. She recommended that service members schedule an earlier date or, if all else fails, appoint an agent to oversee the pick-up.
“I would suggest that they request dates a couple of weeks before they actually have to be gone and then negotiate within that two-week window,” Flowers said. “The dates are a big problem, especially during the summer months. If people can avoid moving during the summer months, that would be great. Not everybody can do that.”
To ensure as smooth a move as possible, Flowers said it is important to get familiar with the DPS website, www.move.mil, as soon as possible, even if orders are not issued yet.
“(Service members) need to go to that site from the time they find out they’re about to PCS,”
Flowers said. “They need to be looking and navigating and reading and preparing themselves. ... It’s a lot of reading for the customers, but if they’re interested (the information) is there.”
Service members are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new claims program, Flowers said.
“Under the old program, (service members) go to the local Judge Advocate General office. Insurance was based on depreciated value. But (service members) talked directly to a claims officer, claims adjuster,” Flowers explained. “It was a pretty simple process " not financially to the service members benefit, but time wise. Under the new program, the customers literally become their own claims adjuster.”
She said the benefit is that service members can now negotiate the reimbursement value of the lost or damaged property.
“Under this program, if you can prove (the value, the moving company) has to give you what it would cost if you would purchase that item today.”
The website also offers tutorials on how to navigate the process, access to regulations and a tool to estimate the service member’s shipment weight. The mandatory counseling briefings are also available online.
“Under the old program, service members physically had to come to a transportation office and go through the process of (receiving) a briefing,” Flowers said. “Under the new program, they can self counsel. They can do (the briefing) online as long as it’s not their first move or their last move.”
For more information, call the transportation office at 751-5137 or visit www.move.mil.