A Soldier checks in at an IHG Army Hotel, which recently extended discounted rates on the basic allowance for housing, or BAH, through the end of fiscal year 2022 to assist Families dealing with COVID-19 related permanent change of station, or PCS, blackouts.
A Soldier checks in at an IHG Army Hotel, which recently extended discounted rates on the basic allowance for housing, or BAH, through the end of fiscal year 2022 to assist Families dealing with COVID-19 related permanent change of station, or PCS, blackouts. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Permanent change of station, or PCS, season may be winding down, but Campbell Crossing, a Lendlease privatized military housing community, remains as committed as ever to helping Soldiers and Families navigate their moves.

Those efforts have minimized impact on the installation from Armywide PCS blackouts, which have surfaced as moving companies experience labor and supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been incredibly important for us to remain flexible and provide opportunities for inbound and outbound Families to minimize as much stress as possible,” said Karsten Haake, project director for Campbell Crossing. “Working one-on-one with our Families means that there’s no cookie-cutter approach to addressing their challenges – it’s all unique, and even though we have policies in place, that doesn’t mean we aren’t creative in finding solutions for our residents.”

Campbell Crossing has seen an estimated 200 move-outs in August alone, Haake said, but few Families have experienced difficulties as a result.

“Due to our strong partnerships with Fort Campbell Army leadership and the Fort Campbell Housing Services office, we have remained well-informed of the current delays and are fortunate that the transportation blackout has had minimal impact on our residents,” he said. “The transportation blackout has caused us to reach out to approximately six Families individually to help them out with their moving dates and we were able to accommodate all of them,” he said.

Outbound Families experiencing transportation delays can work with Campbell Crossing to adjust their moving date and extend their stay in on-post housing. If those extensions impact Families scheduled to move in, Campbell Crossing will work to find other available housing to accomodate them as quickly as possible.

“If a move-in is delayed due to COVID-19 impacts or an unforeseen circumstance such as a maintenance issue in the home or a pause in the change of maintenance, Campbell Crossing will work with our Families and provide lodging assistance if needed on an individual basis,” Haake said. “That’s in addition to the 10 days the military provides with the temporary lodging allowance.”

IHG Army Hotels, which are operated in association with Lendlease, the owner and exclusive developer for the Privatization of Army Lodging program, are a major temporary housing option for Soldiers and Families. The company recently extended discounted rates on the basic allowance for housing, or BAH, through the end of fiscal year 2022 after originally implementing them in March 2020.

“We’re proud to be able to offer a home away from home for so many military travelers and their Families and know that COVID-19 continues to interrupt so many lives and plans,” said Chuck Sourbeer, head of operations, IHG Army Hotels, in a media release. “Thousands of Families have taken advantage of this special discounted rate over the last year, and we know that extending the rate is the right thing to do to support those who serve us every day.”

To receive the discounted BAH rate, Soldiers must first visit the Army Housing Services Office, or HSO, with their permanent change of station, or PCS, orders before checking into an IHG, said Yolanda McDaniel, deputy director Housing Division, Directorate of Public Works.

During that visit, the HSO will provide a validated IHG Army PCS rate form, which the Soldier will present at check-in to the IHG. The discounted BAH rate is determined by a Soldier’s rank and the number of dependents. This discount is not retroactive and cannot be applied once the Soldier or Family has checked into the IHG.

“We play a critical role in validating the required form needed when the Soldiers and Families contact IHG,” McDaniel said.

Once the form is validated, the service member would submit it to the hotel front desk to request the reduced rate, she said.

“We partner with IHG Army Hotels on a case-by-case basis as the preferred location for our temporary lodging needs because it’s so close on post and they truly understand the unique needs of military Families,” Haake said. “Additionally when needed, we also have partnerships with local residences to coordinate with to provide a quality, safe and comfortable place to sleep.”

Another way Families can find solutions to their moving concerns is by visiting the Personal Property Office, or PPO, in the Soldier Support Center.

“Sometimes just talking with them and offering some options for them to think about is helpful, and that’s the biggest thing we’ve been involved with,” said Carri Barnes, personal property supervisor, PPO. “It helps that we have a good relationship with reassignments, transition and the housing office, so everybody’s on the same page. And if a Soldier has a problem, everyone’s aware of what’s going on and tries their best to help them through it.”

The PPO is responsible for providing counseling and arranging household goods shipments, and Barnes said they use the Department of the Army’s guidelines to help Families navigate peak PCS season, which generally runs from May through the end of August.

“We typically have blackouts through every peak season, but this year’s were longer and affected more people,” Barnes said. “The pandemic has caused lots of issues for the industry because they have truck driver shortages, a wood shortage for crates and a lot of other things that have impacted the moving season. It can be stressful for Soldiers and Families, but we have a great team here who’s very knowledgeable.”

Barnes said Fort Campbell’s blackout period is expected to end Aug. 30, and the installation’s workforce is prepared to address any issues until then.

“Soldiers have so much on their minds and so much going on,” she said. “Personal property is near and dear to them, but they’ve been doing their very best to be understanding and work with us through this situation as we try to do everything we can to give them options. Whether it’s a PCS deferment or them moving their belongings themselves, we want them to be able to do whatever works best for their Family and their calendar.”

The HSO can only accomplish its mission as the housing advocate for Soldiers and Families through partnering with other stakeholders such as Campbell Crossing and transportation, McDaniel said.