By Megan Locke Simpson, Fort Campbell CourierMay 1, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- The U.S. military's peak moving season is approaching. From May 15 through Sept. 30 each year, 65 percent of all Department of Defense household goods are moved.
This summer surge is expected to be a hectic one at Fort Campbell, as the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade inactivates. This inactivation will increase the number of Soldiers and Families who will relocate to other duty stations, as well as separate or retire from the Army.
With this in mind, Fort Campbell transportation officials are encouraging Soldiers and their Families to plan ahead, be prepared and be flexible if a move is in their immediate future.
"Last year, we had a lot of problems in the sense that people didn't get the requested dates that they wanted for the household goods pickup," said Installation Transportation Officer Charles St. John.
In order to get a better chance at obtaining the packing and pickup dates they want for a government move, Soldiers should bring their orders to the Personal Property Shipping Office as soon as they receive them. This office is located at 7170 H Ave., near Campbell Army Airfield.
Soldiers do not have to have their clearing papers to start the process, which is a common misconception, said Transition Specialist Carri Barnes.
"When they come in our office and they submit their orders and get their shipment request in the system, we're currently at a three-week timeframe for their pickups," Barnes said. "So that's where the flexibility and being proactive really come into play.
"… We have people trying to move in the next two weeks, but they've had their orders since the beginning of March. So if they would have brought their orders in at the beginning of March, we absolutely could have gotten them picked up for what they're needing, but now we're trying to see if there is carrier availability. They still have to request their shipment in the Defense Personal Property System. There's a whole process that they still have to go through because they waited so long."
Another thing to consider is that transportation service providers, or TSPs, have blackout periods when they do not have the capability. These carriers will not be an option for selection in the system during the blackout dates, drastically limiting the number of TSPs.
Once Soldiers submit their orders, most will receive a packet explaining how to submit their move into the Defense Personal Property System, which can be found online at www.move.mil.
Soldiers completing a government move for the first or last time in their careers must also attend a Department of Defense-mandated briefing, where a counselor will help them learn more about the shipment process. All requested shipments flow into a queue to be processed by a counselor.
"Once [the counselor] gets done working [the request] and it's assigned to a carrier, then that service member works everything with that carrier directly from there," Barnes said.
Even after packing and pickup dates have been requested with the transportation service provider, dates can still shift slightly to the right or left. St. John emphasized the need for flexibility when booking packing and pickup, and he suggested scheduling movers before the last possible move-out date to avoid difficulties. A carrier may not always be available to move a Family on the final day of the lease period.
"If you need to be out on the 30th, you may want to think about maybe requesting a little bit earlier so that you have that flexibility if they need to shift your dates by a couple days," Barnes said.
Organizing household goods and making sure the home is clean for the duration of the process are other factors to consider, said Installation Transportation Office Management and Program Assistant Brenda Francis.
"Be ready for the packers," Francis said. "… Because if you have a dirty house, or bugs or whatever, then you are not going to get packed and you have wasted their time and our time and also the Soldier's time."
For those moving overseas, Francis suggested separating items that will go for unaccompanied baggage, household goods and non-temporary storage into different rooms or areas, because each will have different packing and pickup dates. An organized plan helps movers know what to pack and also items not to be packed, such as passports, orders and important legal documents. The Family typically carries these items. Soldiers also have the Personally Procured Move option, which can provide flexibility in some cases. Soldiers have several PPM options, such as using their personal vehicle, renting a truck or trailer or hiring their own carrier to pack and move their household goods.
These moving expenses are an entitlement, but are limited. The most important thing to remember about PPMs is to ensure the Soldier receives the correct counseling and information from the Personal Property Shipping Office before performing the move.
For more information about government moves or PPM, call the Personal Property Shipping Office at (270) 798-7151. The office is open from 7:30 until 11:30 a.m. and noon until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Quality assurance personnel work hand-in-hand with Soldiers to make sure the government move process goes smoothly.
Soldiers can call the Personal Property Shipping Office with concerns if unforeseen issues come about during a move that cannot be resolved with the transportation service provider. Barnes said checking boxes and how they are labeled, as well as remaining at the residence throughout the entire packing and pickup process is recommended.
"If there's issues, they need to get a hold of us or quality assurance," Barnes said.
"Don't wait until it's over and done with. Let us have the opportunity to fix whatever issue is going on."