KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – When she mentions she’s from Transylvania, people inevitably quiz her about Dracula and vampires, especially Americans. While she doesn’t mind entertaining their curiosity and explaining some of the history surrounding the infamous Vlad the Impaler and that region of Romania, which once belonged to Hungary, she’s also quick to get back to business.
Bernadett Szekelyhidi, after all, is a professional. The transportation assistant and counselor at Logistics Readiness Center Rheinland-Pfalz – with her comprehensive knowledge of all the regulations and policies that govern personal property shipping and transportation support – strives to be the subject matter expert her customers can turn to when they have questions or concerns.
But Szekelyhidi, who holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in law from Romania, said she’s still learning.
During those occasional moments when transportation counselors think they know everything there is to know, that’s usually quickly overruled, said the 32-year-old legal expert and Hungarian-Romanian dual citizen.
“It’s challenging. The regulations and policies are constantly changing, and often we have very difficult cases or special requests we must attend to,” she said. “For example, on my desk I have all the files I plan to work on today, all in order. But it’s now 11:35 a.m. and I can’t say I took care of any of these actions because I had emergencies this morning that needed my immediate attention.”
Szekelyhidi said the work days at the transportation office tend to fly by. It’s so busy for her and her coworkers that between a couple of coffee breaks, lunch and a lot of work – before they know it it’s already 4 p.m. and time to go home.
“All our days are like this,” she said. “We have multiple new transportation requests every day by phone or by email or in the Defense Personal Property System.”
“For example, when a service member receives his orders, he contacts us,” said Szekelyhidi. “We double check his orders and entitlements, what his weight allowances are and any special criteria, whether he’s traveling with or without his dependents, and more. It’s a lot of details.”
“From there we try to find out what he would like to do – what type of shipments would he like to send – household goods, unaccompanied baggage shipments and so on, estimated weights, et cetera,” she said.
Szekelyhidi will prepare all the shipping documents in the Defense Personal Property System, create the shipment, generate the documents, prepare everything for signature, send the customer the forms, do the counseling, and submit the documents to the booking office.
“Taking care of our customers, that’s my number one priority,” she added.
Szekelyhidi, who came to Germany in 2018 looking for a career that offers a reasonable work-life balance and opportunities to grow, has been working at the LRC Rheinland-Pfalz transportation office since last March. Before taking this job she was employed by a transportation service provider representative in Mannheim for almost three years, working as a liaison between the moving companies and the Army.
“The main difference between my previous job at the TSP and here (at LRC Rheinland-Pfalz) is here I have direct contact with my customers,” Szekelyhidi said. “That makes things a little more personal.”
If it’s not a separation or retirement or it’s not a first-time Defense Personal Property System user, the customer doesn’t have to come to the transportation office for a face-to-face counseling, said Szekelyhidi, but many times they prefer that. And even if it’s only by phone or by email, it’s still working directly with the customers so it’s more personal.
Szekelyhidi and her transportation team are assigned to the LRC Rheinland-Pfalz Personal Property Processing Office, or PPPO. Besides handling the transportation requests to facilitate the pickup and delivery of their customers’ inbound and outbound household goods and unaccompanied baggage shipments in the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz area of operation, the PPPO is also responsible for quality control, customs and passenger travel.
LRC Rheinland-Pfalz is one of seven LRCs under the command and control of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade. LRCs execute installation logistics support and services to include supply, maintenance, transportation and food service management as well as clothing issue facility operations, hazardous material management, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, property book operations, and non-tactical vehicle and garrison equipment management. When it comes to providing day-to-day installation services, LRC Rheinland-Pfalz directs, manages and coordinates a variety of operations and activities in support of USAG Rheinland-Pfalz
LRC Rheinland-Pfalz reports to the 405th AFSB, which is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.