Moving is never easy, but according to Mark Stretch, lead transportation assistant at Fort Leonard Wood's Logistics Readiness Center, there are some things that can be done to make a summertime move go smoothly.

"One issue we see year after year is that the service member or DoD civilian does not start the process to ship their household goods as soon as they receive their orders," Stretch said. "All you need to start setting up your household goods move is your orders; there is no need to wait for clearing papers or anything else. The quicker your paperwork is in the system the quicker your shipment can be processed and booked."

Before beginning the process, Stretch said individuals need to request a user name and password for the Defense Personal Property System at www.move.mil. The site also offers many tutorials that may be helpful.

Stretch said there are various options for preparing and submitting paperwork required for a personal property move. Below he takes GUIDON staff through the process.

Q: What are my options?

The first option is to do all your paperwork and counseling in the Defense Personal Property System. The first thing you will need to do is enter your order information. After that you can start entering information for your household good shipment. After you have entered your shipment information you can follow the instructions for submitting your shipment request through the DPS system. If you sign and submit all your documents through DPS there is no need to come into our office. One of our counselors will review your paperwork and contact you if they have any questions. If there are no questions, the counselor will submit your shipment for booking. Most have the option to complete all paperwork and counseling on-line with the exception of the following situations; first/last personal property move, storing or moving in conjunction with contingency orders, storing or moving property in conjunction with a designated location move for dependents to an overseas location including Alaska and Hawaii, when shipping using a Power of Attorney (not the property owner), and moving personal property as a next of kin or summary courts officer. If you fall into one of these categories you are required to come into our office for face-to-face counseling.

The second option is to enter your orders and shipment information in DPS and then bring your documents into our office. One of our counselors will sit with you, review your paperwork and submit your shipment for booking.

The third option would be to bring your orders into our office and one of our counselors will enter your information into DPS; however, you will still need to create a DPS account in order to access information regarding your shipment and to file a claim if there is any damage during your move.

Q: What if I need help with the process?

The Personal Property Office will not turn anyone away; however, we strongly suggest when you come to our office that you have created your DPS account, entered your order information and at least attempted to put in your shipment information. This will allow our Personal Property Counselors more time to answer your questions and less time doing data entry.

Q: When is the peak season and what if my move is during that time?

The personal property peak shipping season runs from approximately May 15 through Aug. 30. This is a very busy time for personal property offices and the moving companies we work with. Here are a few things you can do to make your move a little less stressful. First, be flexible. Your requested move dates may not be available. Be open to shifting your dates due to carrier availability and provide alternate move dates at time of counseling. Second, do your best to make yourself available for a pre-move survey after your shipment is booked with a moving company. The pre-move survey allows the moving company to plan your shipment and be prepared on the first pack day. Next, identify any unusual items you may have at time of counseling and to your moving company when they contact you. This helps the moving company to get the necessary approvals for any special packaging the item may need prior to the start of your move. Ensure you keep the DPS system and your carrier updated with new information, such as a delivery address, new phone numbers, etc. Lastly, use a personal email address, as your primary email contact. If you use your government email address you may not have access to it during your move and could miss out on valuable information.

Q: How soon will my stuff ship?

Keep in mind lead times for move dates can be as high as 21 days during peak season, and short notice pickups can be extremely difficult to book. The best thing you can do to ensure your shipment gets booked and you get on the road is to submit your paperwork as soon as possible. Waiting can only cause delays in moving and put undue stress on you and your family.

Q: What if I have issues with my shipment?

If there are any concerns during the packing and pickup or delivery of your personal property you can contact the nearest Transportation Office for assistance. Our office has Quality Assurance inspectors that, in some cases can come out to your residence to help resolve any issues you might have. The Quality Assurance section can be reached at 573.596.0844.

Q: Is that all I need to do?

When your move is completed there are still two important things for you to do -- First, if your property was damaged during your move, a Loss/Damage Report indicating your intent to file a claim has to be submitted in DPS no later than 75 days after your delivery date. The Military Claims Office contact information can be found at www.move.mil if you have questions. Second, you need to complete a Customer Satisfaction Survey in DPS. This survey plays a big part in how your moving company is rated and how many shipments they could receive in the future.

Fort Leonard Wood's Personal Property Office is located in Building 470, Suite 1219. They are open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays. Appointments are not necessary, but customers are served on a first come first-served basis.

For more information, call 573.596.0826, or email usarmy.leonardwood.usag.mbx.dolhhg@mail.mil.