Family Forum / By Judy Konitzer: It’s a new world order because of COVID-19, and it is causing a major change for military families making PCS moves.
The following information was derived from multiple sources, to include an article by Karen Jowers in Military Times: Pay & Benefits June 17, 2020 “As military moves restart, it’s still a PCS season.” Peak season in years gone by normally began May 15 thru the end of August, but this year there was an 82% decrease when military orders got backlogged, moves subsequently got backlogged, moving companies in some areas experienced labor shortages, and new requirements for moving crews to avoid the spread of the coronavirus also slowed down the process. U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) has adjusted “Peak Season” to November 15.
MAJ Timothy Schafer, 2916th Avn. Bn., Fort Irwin, California completes moving documents for his PCS to Hawaii, July 2020. He and all the moving company employees were compliant with TRANSCOM’s COVID moving requirements requiring everyone to wear face coverings (masks) throughout the moving process. / MAJ SCHAFER PERSONAL PHOTO
With travel restrictions being somewhat waived and TRANSCOM reassessing issues, anticipation for higher-than-average shipment levels for PCS moves for this fall and winter is projected. However, some military installations or other multiple areas or hot spots could again face lockdowns if a second wave of the coronavirus pops up, or different countries begin to have issues. So military families must be willing to become more flexible when making their plans.
Start Early to Schedule a PCS Move
As soon as you receive orders, even if two to three months down the road, obtain counseling from the office responsible for scheduling your move. This will ensure you are aware of the COVID-related protocols. Household goods that were in temporary storage during the spring when moves came to a temporary halt do have a priority and are required to be delivered within five days of the customer’s request, however, sometimes it can take up to two weeks due to labor shortages if moving companies cannot find workers.
More Time to Submit Claims
To offset expenses for inconvenience claims when household goods are delayed, service members now have 180 days from shipment to delivery to submit their notice of loss and/or damage, and nine months to submit a claim for those same items.
Procedures for Virtual Pre-Move Surveys
Last year, 95% of the pre-move surveys were done thru videoconferencing at a time which was convenient for the service or family member. Someone can walk thru their home with a smart phone and film everything that will be moved while a moving company employee annotates it. It is expected for this practice to continue.
Guidelines for COVID Moving Requirements
New procedures have been designed to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, but as a reminder with these changes, it will slow down the process for movers. Moving companies are required to only bring a minimum number of employees required to handle the shipment. In addition, employees must wear a face covering and must frequently clean touched surfaces in the home. Service members are also expected to wear face masks when in the presence of the movers. TRANSCOM follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and reminds service members that moving crews could be subject to corrective action as simple as a reminder to wear a mask, or as drastic as stopping a move altogether, so as a courtesy are reminded to please follow the requirements. They are also asked to limit the number of people in the home during pack-outs or the delivery process and notify their transportation office if anyone in the family is ill, so as to be able to reschedule the move if necessary. Lastly, the moving company is required for you to provide them written verification so anyone coming into your home during the move has been properly screened for the illness, as well as being properly equipped to work there.
In the end, it is important for families to understand that they have a responsibility to follow the COVID guidelines and requirements, but that they also have power during a move and can decide who can come into their home. They can question a moving company’s personnel about their health protection protocols and can say “stop” at any time during the process. If at any time a family is uncomfortable, they should contact their local personal property/transportation office or chain of command. A property office can be found at move.mil.