Top military leaders have heard complaints from military families on the move about delayed trucks and broken heirlooms, and they already are working on ways to improve next summer's PCS season.
Judging by an outcry of criticism, this summer was one of the most miserable PCS seasons in recent memory. One example: A Change.org petition asking Congress and military leaders to be more selective when hiring moving companies has garnered more than 90,000 signatures since late August, well past Army veteran and military spouse Megan Harless' initial goal of 50,000. Thousands of people who signed the petition shared stories of items that went missing or were broken during PCS moves.
Movers get it right most of the time, said Navy Rear Adm. Peter Clarke, director of strategy, capabilities, policy, and logistics for U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.: Of the 400,000 servicemembers on the move each year, 90 percent of those who returned move surveys indicated a satisfactory relocation.
That still leaves a disappointment rate that's “unacceptable.” Clarke said. “We have to do better.”
Three key areas Transportation Command hopes to improve on next summer and beyond:
- More survey participation. Clarke said servicemembers are encouraged to fill out the post-move survey, which helps officials determine which companies to continue contracting with and which to drop. About 120,000 servicemembers return the surveys yearly, Clarke said.
- More quality assurance inspectors. These DoD employees visit the home on the day of the move to observe the movers working, and teach military families about their rights and responsibilities. Budget constraints have significantly reduced the number of inspectors in the DoD, who are “spread really thin,” Clarke said.
- More off-peak moves. Transportation Command is working with the services to encourage more moves outside the busy summer season, Clarke said. Such moves might not be ideal for families with school-aged children, but those who can relocate in the offseason will have a more readily available moving crew that won't have to rush, and can help alleviate the stress on summer military movers.
“We understand the importance of the family relocation experience,” Clarke said. “PCS is an emotional time and a stressful time and we are committed to make that relocation experience better.”