FORT MEADE, Md. -- Soldiers and their Families can now receive dislocation allowance ahead of a permanent change of station move after the Army updated its policy in an effort to reduce the burden of moving.The new policy is effective Oct. 10, when Gen. James C. McConville, chief of staff of the Army, and Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy signed the policy. Soldiers who possess an individually-billed government charge card are eligible for the advance payment.Dislocation allowance, or DLA, partially reimburses Soldiers for the expenses incurred while relocating to a new duty station on PCS orders.Payment rates can range from about $978 to nearly $5,000, based on rank or if a Soldier has dependents. The allowance does not have to be paid back.The change comes after McConville asked for a review of certain policies to alleviate the peak PCS season that occurs every summer."His intent was to try and lessen the burden of a PCS move on Soldiers and Families," said Larry Lock, chief of compensation and entitlements at the Army's G-1 office. "This was just one of those areas that we took a look at and saw that we had the policy flexibility to make those changes."The new policy modifies a 2014 policy that directed government charge cards to be used for all PCS travel and relocation expenses. That policy, officials said, was to benefit cardholders so they wouldn't have to pay for moving expenses out of their own pocket.Officials still urge Soldiers to use their travel cards for PCS moves."The new policy change only affects DLA," Lock said. "The policy still requires the use of the government travel card for all other travel allowances."To request a DLA advance, Soldiers need to fill out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Form 9114. Or, they can receive the DLA after their move is completed when their fill out their Defense Department Form 1351-2 travel voucher.ADDITIONAL POLICY CHANGESThe Army is also pursuing efforts to ease other challenges during PCS moves.One initiative being considered is getting Soldiers their orders 120 days before their PCS date, said Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell, G-4 assistant deputy chief of staff.Russell and others spoke last week during a family forum at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.Further, the Army is developing a knowledge-based smartphone application to assist with the household goods, or HHG, process, he said. The app will streamline all HHG resources and policies into one location, allowing Soldiers and their families to discover benefits that can help them before, during, and after the HHG process."People are not aware of all the benefits that they have," Russell said at the forum. "One of the things that we're going to get after is making sure everybody understands how to empower themselves and take back the household goods move."At another family forum last week, McConville said the Army is even looking to incentivize "do-it-yourself" personally procured moves for families interested in doing so, which could put less strain on commercial movers during peak periods.Soldiers are now eligible for 95 percent, and sometimes up to 100 percent if approved, of what the government would pay a commercial mover as part of a personally procured move.The change to an automatic 100 percent payment for PPMs, which currently make up less than 2 percent of all PCS moves, is currently being worked on."If we can look at the feasibility of giving additional incentives for people to perhaps do their own move," Lock said, "it can at least leverage some of that bottleneck commensurate with that peak season."
For the most recent change to DLA, Lock said it was a necessary thing to do to help Soldiers and Families."If we have the flexibility to do it," he said, "without bringing on additional burden administratively for the Army and at the same time helping Families, it's a win."