Like many people that have created petitions on Change.org or other websites, Megan Harless didn’t expect much traction when her petition about issues surrounding the PCS process went “viral,” gaining over 100,000 signatures in a matter of days. As expected with anything that goes viral, her petition made a lot of noise – especially within the military community itself.
Though she received some criticism from those working within the moving industry on her Facebook page, The Military Spouse Chronicles, the majority of us either know someone or has personally experienced a horrendous move ourselves, so it wasn’t a surprise when Harless was contacted by senators and some of the top military brass.
A Few Inquiries
In September, a staffer from Senator Tester’s office reached out to Harless to start a conversation on how they could help work the PCS issue so that it would receive the attention that it deserves by our leaders in Washington. After several weeks of work, a letter was sent to the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), which was signed by Senator Tester, Senator Kaine, Senator Murkowski, and Senator Lankford and asked for a response by March of 2019. Further, another joint letter was sent from the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) to USTRANSCOM Commander General Lyons addressing the concerns and issues laid out in the petition as well as concerns collected by Harless from other service members and their families, giving General Lyons a February 2019 deadline to reply to their inquiry regarding PCS shortcomings.
Since the letters, Harless also attended the Senate Leadership Forum during Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, where she was able to ask a question to the Chief of Army General Milley, Secretary of the Army Dr. Esper, and Sergeant Major of the Army SMA Dailey.
Harless asked: This year has been what many call the worst moving season in a long time due to the gross negligence of the moving companies. What is the Army’s plan to hold these companies accountable in order to keep PCS season from being a financial burden on military families and will there be any transparency for families to see those accountability actions or repercussions on the moving companies?
If you scroll to 31:15 mark here, you can hear the question and corresponding answer:
What USTRANSCOM and Defense Personal Property is doing for us:
Currently, USTRANSCOM’s plan is to continue collecting end of moving service surveys, continue to try to move more service members during off-peak seasons, and to hire more Quality Assurance supervisors, though a response to the HASC inquiry has not yet been given. USTRANSCOM has also launched several pilot programs, such as hiring military spouses to serve as Quality Assurance supervisors at Scott Air Force Base and testing crated shipments. So far in 2018, there have been over 275,000 moves with a total of 6,000 warning or suspensions sent to moving companies.
General Lyon’s office also put Harless in touch with his own point of contact in the Defense Personal Property Program, which led to the formation of a new advisory panel that Harless now sits on, to help address PCS issues and find solutions.
What Military Families Need to Do:
Even though it may not capture our entire moving experience, we need to fill out the moving surveys sent at the end of our moves – and if you’re experiencing a rough move in real time, your first call should be to your Moving Coordinator so that they can send a company representative out to you, as well as the Installation Inspector. We can also always decline service, but unfortunately, we are then left doing a DITY move on the fly.
Remember that as moving customers, we do have rights.
In addition, the movers must adhere to the provisions outlined in the Tender of Service set forth by USTRANSCOM. This information can be especially helpful because if something doesn’t seem right with your movers, you can not only verify that they are not abiding by the tenders set forth, but you can also document and make contact with the moving coordinator and Installation Inspector and send them your documentation if necessary.
After the fact, we can also contact PCSgrades.com to provide data on our moving experience with their website and readers, which can help others prepare for their own moves based on other’s overall satisfaction with their assigned moving company.