FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Soldiers and Families are faced with many decisions during a permanent change of station, or PCS, but one of the most important choices is whether to handle the move themselves.
A personally procured move, or PPM, can help Soldiers avoid several weeks of lead time for transportation services during peak PCS season, and the government will pay them for their efforts based on item weight.
However, those taking on a PPM will assume full responsibility for their move, which means they should be prepared for heavy lifting or working with third-party companies.
“The biggest step is they need to come and talk to us as soon as they get their orders,” said Carri Barnes, supervisor, Personal Property, Transportation Office. “Don’t wait for clearing papers, don’t wait for your leave – come talk to us as soon as you get your orders so we can discuss things and see what the next steps are.”
Employees at the Fort Campbell Transportation Office are required to approve any PPM moves ahead of time, and they can help Soldiers throughout the process based on their individual needs. Their office is located in the Soldier Support Center at 2702 Michigan Ave. and can be reached at 270-798-7151.
Peak moving season begins in May and continues through August.
“We have a lot of people, especially during peak season, that try to start a PPM move before they have orders,” Barnes said. “That is a huge issue, because if they start that move before they have orders there is absolutely no entitlement for payment on that move.”
PPM payments are based on government rates for moving a given amount of weight and the distance traveled. The Transportation Office makes sure Soldiers follow the steps to receive the full amount they’re entitled to.
“It’s mandatory that we personally counsel you on your first and your very last move,” said Cyrus Moore, transportation specialist, Personal Property, Transportation Office. “For everything in between, you can self-counsel.”
The Transportation Office hosts Department of Defense-mandated briefings on PPMs throughout the week, and after their initial move Soldiers are qualified for self-counseling through the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, website.
“We also give them a guide sheet where they can navigate DPS,” Moore said. “We have a computer lab here, so if they get stuck, they can come back, we’ll set them up in the lab and we’ll be here if they need assistance.”
Once a Soldier’s PPM is approved, they have several transportation options: renting portable moving or storage containers; renting trucks or trailers; using a personal vehicle or trailer; hiring a commercial moving company or shipping via a small package carrier.
“If they do hire a third party, it’s recommended that they check the Better Business Bureau for that company’s ratings,” Barnes said. “Something we’ve been seeing in the past couple of years is that U-Hauls and things like that can be hard to find during peak PCS season and sometimes their cost goes up, so that financial aspect could be a challenge.”
However, Barnes said Soldiers can apply for a government travel card through their unit and use that to rent equipment or packing materials they may need for a PPM.
“What people should make sure they emphasize if they decide to use third-party movers is that they need weight tickets,” Moore said. “Some companies will say ‘we forgot to do this,’ and that person just lost that money. Weight tickets are everything in a PPM.”
No matter how Soldiers and Families decide to move their items, Barnes said the most important thing is to reach out to the Transportation Office with any questions.
“A lot of people go to friends or someone who has done moves in the past to ask for advice,” she said. “But policies and regulations are changing so frequently right now, and something another person did in their move a year ago may not line up with current guidelines.”
Moore added that transportation specialists are always willing to help Soldiers and Families through a PCS, even if they’ve completed their initial briefing or self-counseling session.
“Just because you’ve spoken to us once doesn’t mean you have to stop there,” Moore said. “You could have 20 questions a day about the same thing, but we want you to call us to make sure you’re doing it correctly because with a PPM you’re 100% responsible.”