Permanent change of station moves for Soldiers are in full swing.
Many of the personnel responsible for assisting with these PCS moves call it the summer surge. It happens every year, but this year has brought a set of unique challenges thanks to the ramifications of COVID-19.
The Army will process some 60,000 PCS moves this summer.
“For Redstone Arsenal, we’re not seeing a bad PCS season right now,” Garrison Commander Col. Glenn Mellor said. “Really it’s just a matter of being patient and planning ahead.”
Overall, the Army has taken steps to make the PCS move easier.
It has started paying for 100% of personally procured moves and providing orders 120 days in advance.
The Army has streamlined the process to make it easier to make a claim, increased quality assurance checks, enahnced safety procedures, and launched the Army Permanent Change of Station Move App update. The app is available for Android and Apple devices.
Soldiers can also use the Digital Garrison app, the PCS My POV app and a 24/7 hotline, 833-MIL-MOVE to get more information and assistance.
In addition to the apps, one of the most important things for Soldiers and civilians who are making a PCS move to Redstone to do is stop by Army Community Service, at the Pershing Welcome Center, and in process or out process, according to Jeannie Johnston, Army Community Service division chief.
“Sometimes that doesn’t happen,” Johnston said. “But it really behooves you to come by and see what we have to offer. We help you find what you need on base.”
ACS can also help those moving find information about where they are going and they have the Lending Closet, which is designed to tide over those who have already had their household goods picked up, but are still living on post for a short time afterward.
“Sometimes we Google it and we think we know what all is there, but we have a lot more,” Johnston said.
She added that it’s vital for those with an exceptional family member to stop by and fill out a number of forms designed to ensure they family’s EFM receives the services they need.
ACS can also assist with finding military spouses’ employment.
“If you’re a commander please encourage your service members to come through ACS too and not sign off for themselves for in processing and out processing,” Johnston said. “It’s really important they get the information that they need.”
One of the challenges faced by Soldiers is simply getting their household goods transported to their new place.
COVID-19 has presented several challenges, like labor shortages, which have increased the time it takes to schedule the transportation of household goods.
“We’re seeing delays across of CONUS,” Mellor said. “For Redstone Arsenal it’s roughly about three to four weeks for pickup or delivery, but that’s about normal for us. So, really, we’re not seeing a whole bunch of delays.”
To combat this, the Army, and the Department of Defense, has taken steps to hold the transportation service providers accountable by emphasizing they should only accept shipments they can support and sending out a total of 989 letters of suspension, to date, for companies who simply don’t show up. The Army is also prioritizing the packaging and storage of household goods for Soldiers and families who have expiring leases or have sold their homes.
The Army inspects about 90% of shipments prior to movement and simplified the claims process to speed reimbursement for damaged goods.
Soldiers now have the option to procure their own moving services, which is a reimbursable expense.
According to the Army personally procured moves are not mandated, but they can be used as an option for Soldiers and families who want more control over the timeline of the moving process. The Army will reimburse Soldiers for 100% of authorized expenses, and to prevent out-of-pocket expenses, Soldiers are authorized to use their Government Travel Card to fund the personally procured moves.
Another important resource provided by the Garrison for those moving to and from Redstone is the Housing Service Office.
In addition to housing.army.mil, which provides information about Army posts, the
HSO can assist with Army family housing, unaccompanied housing and off-post family housing.
According to Chuck Houston, from Garrison housing office, the HSO reaches out to all incoming personnel 90, 60 and 30 days out of their anticipated arrival to assist them with finding housing.
“We are part of the Garrison, not the privatized company that runs housing here on base,” Houston said. “We encourage you, if you’re inbound, to respond to us.”
Installation housing managers provide up-to-date information to area property managers, rental companies and real estate agents in the surrounding communities about the military’s housing and rental housing needs and can leverage established relationships with property management companies and individual landlords to advocate for Soldiers and families.