It all started with a simple Open Letter to our Elected Officials posed from a general military family’s grievance on the military PCS moving experience on August 24th asking to hold moving companies more accountable. Within minutes of posting, with the suggestion from a person who commented, I made it into a petition and it all quickly went viral. No where in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that something I posted would go as viral as it did.
Within a few days, I was doing interviews with several reporters to include MOAA, The Leaf Chronicles, Military.com, Time Magazine and the Associate Press. The story was getting picked up by multiple other sources to include Military Times and several smaller local outlets across the country.
Congress Hears Our Frustrations
In addition to those interviews, I was also contacted by a staffer in Senator Tester’s office about the petition and the conversation began on how we can work this issue together to get it the attention that it needs. After several weeks of back and forth and working things through the political ladder in Washington, a letter was finally drafted to Transcom and signed by four Senators (Senator Tester, Senator Kaine, Senator Murkowski, and Senator Lankford) making it bi-partisan effort to address the concerns that we all have.
Furthermore, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) sent a joint letter from HASC Chairman (Representative Thornberry), Ranking Member (Rep Smith), Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairman and Ranking Member (Rep Coffman and Rep Speier), and the Readiness Subcommittee Chairman and Ranking Member (Rep Wilson and Rep Bordailo) to US Transcom Commander General Lyons addressing these concerns and issues.
Through the process there have been many issues and questions that have arisen:
• What is the selection process for moving companies?
• What is the process and how are moving companies reprimanded?
• What is being done to prevent companies who have been removed from the program the ability to close, change name, and reopen to gain contracts again?• Why is there no real time tracking available for families and their house hold goods?
• Would going to a crates or pods type system help to cut down on the amount of loss families are experiencing?
• Why doesn’t Transcom track by moving company and year the amount they are paying out in claims?
• Why is the claims process so cumbersome and difficult for the families to fight for appropriate compensation for the loss and damage of their HHGs?
These are just a few of the most asked questions from the 4 pages of questions that I have gathered from other service members and families.
Currently Transcom’s answer is to 1) Continue the end of service “Moving Survey” as their main guide for overall satisfaction. While this is a great tool, there are many issues with it that includes that many do not fill it out until after the claims process which often means that by that time they no longer care to do it, and the survey is so long to complete.
2) They are looking at moving more service members and their families during the off-peak season. While this is another great talking point, lets also mention that the Navy has issued a policy that will allow spouses and children to remain at their location to finish out a job or school and then move. Therefore, this doesn’t solve the issue as that family is again moving during peak season of the summer, and the military is now paying twice to move 1 family.
3) The plan to hire more quality assurance inspectors is so far the only thing that has made any sense. With many installations limited to one inspector who is often difficult to get a hold of when needed, hiring more with a standardized, across the board training would be beneficial.
Other suggested solutions from service members and families include letting the families fill out the inventory sheets to ensure it is accurate pertaining to their HHGs, having more transparency in the process of how moving companies are selected and reprimanded, offering an incentive program for companies who are able to keep their claims amounts and delivery wait times down to a minimum, offer real time tracking of HHGs, use crates or pods, and enforce a high standard for the employees who enter our homes to pack and move us.
At this time, I have reached out to Transcom with no reply.
I will be in DC at the AUSA Annual Meeting to ask Chief of Staff General Milley, and the Secretary of the Army Dr Esper their plan to hold moving companies accountable to prevent PCS season from being a financial burden to military families and if there will be any transparency in the process for families.
As this process continues to evolve and move forward over the next few months, I will continue to update and fight for bringing a positive impact on this issue. As of right now, the petition sits at almost 101,000 signatures. http://tinyurl.com/MilitaryMovePetition
Original Open Letter: https://www.facebook.com/MilitarySpouseChronicles1/posts/322816208469769