You Have Orders to Move, Now What?
by Katie Savant, Government Relations Deputy Director
At some point in your career as a military family member, perhaps as often as every two years, your service member will come home with a familiar look in his or her eyes. Perhaps you'll hold your breath and hope it's not true, burst with joy at the anticipation of the next adventure, or experience a range of emotions. That's right, you have orders to move. Regardless of your reaction, moving is a lot of hard work. Fortunately, the Services understand that mobility is part of the military lifestyle and have several resources to help make your next Permanent Change of Station (PCS) a smooth transition.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has continued to expand its relocation program with enhanced resources. Keep in mind these resources are continually updated, so even if you have used the resource before or are a seasoned PCS-mover, we encourage you to explore these options for current information before your next move.
First, if you are living near an installation, it may be helpful to stop by your family support center and inquire about classes or resources offered through the Relocation Program. The Relocation Program provides a number of moving-related services including pre-move and post-move workshops, assistance in finding affordable housing, and newcomer orientations.The Program can also link the service member with a Command-designated sponsor and manages the lending closets. Your local Relocation Manager can help you gather resources, put you in contact with the Relocation Manager at the receiving installation, and identify other points of contact on your current installation to help answer moving questions (Finance Office, Travel Office, etc.) Don't forget some Relocation Programs offer more than relocation services. These other offerings include support for spouses of deployed personnel and support for foreign-born spouses. Contact information for all relocation programs is available through Military INSTALLATIONS at www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.
Military INSTALLATIONS is your official DoD source for installation and state resources available to active duty, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families. Families are able to find installation quick facts, points of contact, photos, major units, a downloadable installation booklet, and local community information for Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Defense Logistics Agency and State Department installations. Highlights from MilitaryINSTALLATIONS include information on shipping pets, services for special needs families, check-in procedures, motor vehicle requirements, school information, long-term and temporary housing options, and much more. Installation Relocation Managers are responsible for keeping Military INSTALLATIONS up-to-date and would appreciate your input regarding what you would like to see on these pages.
Are you seeking step-by-step guidance to help with your upcoming move? Plan My Move (PMM) is an online tool designed just for you! PMM provides a customized three-month calendar of steps to insure a smooth move for you and your family. If you have fewer than three months until your move, don't worry. Review the steps you missed and complete as you can. The tasks are grouped by week and day so you can follow a daily schedule if that works for you. PMM includes travel checklists, arrival checklist, documents to hand carry, important telephone numbers at both your current and new installation, a to-do list, and of course, a printable calendar. PMM also allows users to select if this is your first move or if you have a family member with special needs. Both options will provide detailed information on benefits and services that are available specifically for each of these scenarios. PMM users can also create an account log-in and password which allows the family to add, remove or modify tasks, set up email reminders and change the length of the calendar. The customized features put you in the driver's seat to help with a less stressful move that meets the needs of your family. Head to www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/moving to create your calendar!
After you have set up your customized moving calendar and made contact with your Relocation Manager for military specific resources, you may want to further explore your new community. Military OneSource has just the tool to help- the Relocation Tool. The Relocation Tool provides cost of living reports, school report cards, community comparisons, salary analyzer, crime and safety reports, community explorer, calculators, and links to the Military OneSource Military Spouse Career Center. Military OneSource also provides articles on buying and selling a home, renting, international relocation, helping young children and teens adjust to a move, special needs, and much more. Don't forget you can contact Military OneSource 24/7 via phone, website or email to utilize the Relocation Tool, download articles, or ask for research assistance on any topic. To get started, head to www.militaryonesource.com and create an account (it's free!).
Managing the Relocation Logistics
It might seem like a given, but be sure to talk to your service member about setting up the logistics of your move (i.e. how your household goods will make it from one side of the world to another). This process is coordinated through your local Transportation Management Office (TMO); contact information for TMO is available through the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS website. Getting this portion of the preparation out of the way first might be the preference for most; however, you cannot coordinate anything with your TMO until you have orders in hand, which can often happen a few months after being notified of the move. Often TMO requires the service member to participate in or attend a class prior to setting up the move; this is true even if you plan a Personally Procured Move (PPM) formerly called a DITY or Do-it-Yourself move. TMO will discuss weight allowance, any changes to benefits, and reimbursement or advance payments for your move. For comprehensive information on transportation logistics and benefits, visit the official DoD Household Goods Portal: www.MOVE.mil.
Have you decided where you will live? Your service member will also need to contact the military housing office. Even though many installations have privatized contractors performing property management, remodeling or building new dwellings, each Service still maintains a government housing office. The Services have a long-term partnership with the contractors on their installations. The government housing office is responsible for assisting in obtaining housing quickly and efficiently by managing government housing assignments, setting Service-specific policies, mediating disputes between contractors and military families living in privatized housing, and providing referrals to local community rental properties (which includes referrals to the privatized housing contractor). Each Service has its own housing website and the housing privatization contractors maintain separate websites. Links to both the government housing office and the privatized contractor are available through your Relocation Manager, MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or PMM.
Most of the rental program has been automated through the DoD Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN). AHRN is sponsored by DoD and all other military services. Military members are able to search for housing availability of on-base/military housing, off-base community rentals, military shared rentals, and temporary lodging accommodations. Additionally, military members may also post a rental, roommate wanted, or military for sale by owner listing. Explore this great resource today at www.ahrn.com.
Moving with School-Age Children
When a military family learns they are relocating, one of the first things they consider is where their children will go to school. It often impacts where they choose to live within their new community or may even affect their decision to accompany the service member to the next duty location. Although a great deal of progress has been made over the past several years to help military families address their educational concerns, the most significant improvement is the adoption of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. This important legislation addresses many of the educational issues families face when moving. With 35 states now members of the Compact and more than 88 percent of our school-aged military children covered, families need to know how to use this important tool to make the relocation process smoother. Before families PCS, they should:
- Determine if both their sending and receiving states are members of the Compact
- Familiarize themselves with what the Compact covers
- Use the Compact resources available to effectively communicate to educators
- Reach out to their local School Liaison Officer
- Know who to contact in both the sending and receiving states for additional assistance
For updated Compact information, visit the Council of State Government's website at: www.csg.org/militarycompact.
Your service member will either attend a pre-moving benefits and entitlements brief or participate in an online session that will provide moving compensation information. Military spouses are generally interested in two key benefits: Full Replacement Value (FRV) and Spouse Professional Weight Allowance (Spouse Pro-Gear).
As of March 2008, all shipments of household goods are insured under FRV for the greater of $5,000 per shipment or $4.00 times the net weight up to a maximum $50,000 as compensation for loss. In the past if the Transportation Service Provider (TSP) lost or destroyed something during a move, the service member would only be paid the depreciated value of the item. Claims under FRV must be filed directly with the TSP. The TSP has the right to inspect damaged property when notified of damage and may either settle the claim by repairing the damage or offering monetary compensation in lieu of a repair. Keep in mind that you will need to hold-on to your damaged goods for inspection by the TSP after you submit your claim. For claim filing deadlines and more detailed information visit the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) website at www.sddc.army.mil.
Military Spouses are now able to request an additional weight allowance up to 500 pounds for Spouse Pro-Gear. The weight allowance includes professional books, papers, or equipment needed for employment or community support activities. This is not an automatic entitlement. The service member must request this additional allowance during a pre-move counseling session and the items must be identified as Spouse Pro-Gear on moving day. Visit www.MOVE.mil for more information.
Your Voice Counts!
Once you have made your move and settled into your new community, don't forget to complete your Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS). The CSS is a web-based survey and is emailed directly to the email address provided by the service member during the pre-move counseling session. Why is the CSS important? Not only is it your way to rate the service you received, but it will also determine if future business is warranted for the Transportation Service Provider (TSP). Your response and comments make up 50% of the TSP's score towards future government business! If you had an unpleasant moving experience, share your thoughts to prevent the TSP from receiving future business. Likewise, if it was your best move yet, be sure your TSP remains a government authorized mover. The CSS is a short twelve question survey and is critical to the future success of the household goods transportation program. Hurry and complete your survey when you receive it! CSS information is available on both the MOVE.MIL and SDDC websites.
If you need assistance during the settling-in process, your new installation's Relocation Manager, Military OneSource, Command Sponsor, or friends will be able to point you in the right direction. Take a deep breath and realize your preparation and hard work have paid off– you have arrived at your new home.
Cut out the section below so that you always have these resources handy!
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Essential Relocation Websites:
- DoD Household Goods Portal- www.move.mil
- Plan My Move- www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/moving
- MilitaryINSTALLATIONS - www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil
- Automated Housing Referral Network- www.ahrn.com
- SDDC – Surface Deployment and Distribution Command- www.sddc.army.mil
- Council of State Government's website at- www.csg.org/militarycompact.
Tell us about your most recent move. Did you have a success or a problem you would like to share?
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