PCSing is on everyone’s mind right now. Between safety hazards in on base housing and the fear of losing literally everything during the PCS process, military families are on edge right now.
It seems like military powers that be are prepared to make big changes to the PCS system. But before they do that, I thought I would offer some helpful tips to improve the current PCS system.
Helpful Tips to Improve the Current PCS Process from a MilSpouse
Right now, the big idea on the table is privatizing the PCS system. Basically, one person oversees the process and contracts it out. This would be instead of the current system with multiple steps in the contracting process.
There are some issues with privatizing though.
First, you just have to look at the recent Congressional hearing about privatized base housing to see just how hazardous outsourcing can be for customers. Second, none of this would happen for several years, with the earliest proposed changes coming in 2021.
However, there are some simple steps that we can take to help protect military moves right now.
Vet Moving Companies Properly
Year after year there are issues with who is showing up to actually pack boxes and load trucks. I get it. This is not a glamorous job and is really hard work.
But a quick background check would be great. Some ID before getting hired would be nice, too.
There have been lots of anecdotal stories passed around over the years about less than savory characters being placed in charge of packing the worldly possessions of military families.
Having some measures in place to prevent spur of the moment “hires” for packing personnel would be great. Maybe a list of approved employees that needs to be presented to the gate guard for on base homes would be nice, or a similar ID check method for all military families.
Really, I just want to know the people packing all my stuff into boxes. I want to make sure they’re legit and vetted before I hand over everything I own.
Tracking Protections En Route
Sometimes, it’s not the actual packers that cause worry. Instead, it’s the days or weeks that our household goods are in transit.
Whole shipping containers are lost, trucks wrecked in accidents, and individual items go missing. Clearly, if the entire military spouse community is talking about this, these incidents are not isolated or unusual.
It would be nice to have basic tracking measures put in place to make sure that HHG are being moved in a timely and secure measure. One idea is QR codes or bar codes that can be scanned to update progress.
Increased security measures would also be nice. I recognize that a lot of things are out of my control, especially when my things are on a moving truck and I’m not. But having additional locks, alarms, or other protections doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Get On Message
Could all the military TMO/DMO/whatever you’re calling it now shops please coordinate your messaging? That’d be great, thanks.
It’s incredibly annoying when families are getting different advice about the “rules” based on where they live or which person they talk to on a given day. One day, you could be cleared for certain things and the next it’s all taken away.
This issue is especially frustrating for moves to or from OCONUS locations. Between coordinating flights and pets and shipments, it’s enough. To add in all the contradictory and flat out wrong information is too much.
Figure out your party line, share it to every single military moving office, and stay on message.
Actual 24/7 Support
Our moving company didn’t show up until 9pm one year. They were slated to arrive at noon. Guess who we couldn’t get in contact with? Oh, the representatives from the actual moving company and the military-side coordinator.
Not having a resource to contact when things go badly is great.
Of course, there are definitely moving companies and military coordinators who go above and beyond. But that’s not standard or uniform.
Proper Packing Training
If anyone wants to learn how to pack stuff the right way, please come to Japan. My grocery bags are efficiently arranged to minimize breakage and spread out the weight.
If the baggers at the grocery store take this level of care, I can only imagine what my actual moving experience will be. I’m prepped for extra layers of wrapping and many boxes of beautifully sorted items.
My big pet peeve is when random things get thrown together. Like knives in with my framed paintings and canvas-based art. Or a wrapped bag of flour. Maybe a fully potted plant, soil included, nestled gently in my white linens.
A quick run down on proper, common sense packing tactics would be ideal.
Simple Claims Process
We’ve been pretty lucky (knock on wood). Over the last decade or so, our damages have been minimal and incidental. A cracked Foreman grill here, and shattered (antique from my Nana) tea cup there. Nothing has been so major that we’ve needed to file a claim.
But I’m waiting for it to happen. I’m prepared for months of battles and storing otherwise worthless items just for the inspection. We’ve got piles of receipts for high-cost items, like our TVs ready to deploy.
It shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t need to live with a molding and damaged beyond repair sofa for months while the claim is processed. It’s taking up valuable living space in a probably cramped home.
There’s got to be an easier way to ensure that damaged items are replaced or compensation is paid in a timely manner.
What are your suggestions for easy-to-do fixes for the PCS process? We’d love to get your input!
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