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Military Moves: Avoiding the Bumpy Road
Dated: August 3 2023
As the moving season approaches, spanning from May to September, service members and families face challenges due to persistent labor shortages, which are making it difficult to anticipate the outcome of their moves.
However, there have been some positive changes in the rules concerning permanent change of station moves. Notably, improvements have been made regarding replacement costs for lost or damaged items and the handling of various items such as lithium batteries, privately owned firearms without serial numbers, gun safes, and electronic products. The U.S. Transportation Command officials, responsible for the household goods process, have addressed these issues.
The shortage of truckers has been a longstanding problem predating the pandemic, and it continues to impact the household goods process. According to Dan Bradley, the director of government and military relations for the International Association of Movers, truckers and drivers are crucial components of the moving process, and the scarcity of available labor remains a challenge. Moving companies have been willing to pay higher wages to attract labor and drivers, but finding skilled individuals remains difficult due to the competitive nature of logistics and transportation jobs.
During the current moving season, service members and families will be relocated under the existing household goods process, not the new Global Household Goods contract. Officials are focused on upcoming moves within the current system while gradually transitioning to implement the new program. The reformed process will begin its phased implementation in September, according to Andy Dawson, director of the Defense Personal Property Management Office.
To ensure smoother household goods moves during the peak season in June and July, industry and TRANSCOM officials have been diligently resolving issues. They are requesting moving companies to accept only the shipments they can adequately service. In previous years, an overload of shipments caused some moving companies to be unable to fulfill their obligations, leading to stranded service members whose household goods were not packed and loaded. Damaged and lost items have also been reported as part of the challenges faced.
Furthermore, moving companies are grappling with uncertainty due to changes in regulations and evaluations that affect their operations. They are unsure about the amount of business they will receive this year and how the new contract will impact them in 2024. This uncertainty has prompted some companies to take a cautious approach to hiring and equipment preparation, as they are wary of potential risks in making significant investments. Consequently, some long-time movers are making the difficult decision to shut down their businesses, as mentioned by Bradley.
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As the moving season approaches, several rule changes have been introduced to enhance the moving process for service members. These changes address various aspects, including handling lithium