From January through the end of April, the Distribution Management Branch (DMB) aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico processed 2,383 personal property and household good moves in support of military and civilian relocation worldwide.
Peak moving season for military installations usually begins in March and runs through August.
“Dates get booked and saturation comes really fast,” said Diane Johnson, traffic manager specialist for the DMB. “You want to get the process started early because it can be crash and burn.”
Permanent change of station (PCS) moves, retiring and separating from the military can be complex, but the DMB has several tips for making these transitions easier on both the service member and the DMB.
“Move.mil is the starting point for the entire process,” said Earl Legette, DMB traffic manager. He said there are still people who are resistant to using the site but “it’s mandated by the Department of Defense that people use it.” There are computers in the DMB office for those who do not have personal computers or internet access at home.
For Johnson, “the number one thing is that without orders from IPAC [Installation Personnel Administration Center], nothing moves.”
“People come in and want to start the process without orders but it doesn’t work that way,” she said.
If the service member has a spouse or dependent children, each person’s name must be listed on the order. This is important because the allowed amount of household goods the government will move increases based on the number of dependents and the service member’s rank.
“So if dependents aren’t included on the order, you’ll have jilted yourself of your entitlements,” Johnson said.
Another helpful tip is to indicate both preferred and alternate dates for the move.
“In this area, it’s the same pool of carriers doing local, state-to-state and international moves,” Johnson explained. “Tracking you down to find out other possible dates and coordinating with the carriers takes a lot of time, but if other dates are already in the system, it’s easier and less stressful for you and us.”
Johnson also says “never ever put your military e-mail address as your contact. Give us a Yahoo or Gmail address.” The reason for this is that service members will not have access to their military e-mail account during the move, so they won’t be able to keep track of their belongings unless they have a civilian address.
Some military families choose to perform a Personally Procured Move (PPM), formerly known as a DITY (Do-It-Yourself) Move. Johnson advises against this, unless the service member is moving a short distance, such as from MCBQ to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“I think it’s unnecessarily stressful for you and your family,” she said. “There’s a misconception that you’ll make a lot of money from the government reimbursing you for a PPM. But you only get up to 95 percent of what the government would have paid and there is no reimbursement for loss or damage.”
The DoD reimburses 100 percent of the cost of items lost or damaged during a government move and it gives service members 75 days to put in a claim for a missing item and two years after that to finalize the claim.
Another misconception is that the government will ship privately owned vehicles (POV) to duty stations in the continental United States, but it will only ship POVs overseas.
“And we can only ship one vehicle,” Johnson said.
Authorization letters to ship or store a POV must be obtained from the DMB before anything can happen, Legette stressed.
During a government move, service members with a government travel charge card account (also known as an individually-billed account or IBA) must use the card for transportation expenses (airfare or fuel), lodging, and meals en route.
Johnson said that service members who have an IBA but can’t locate the card or haven’t paid the bill often try to use the DMB’s centrally-billed account (CBA), but they will be flagged for doing this. Service members who need to use the CBA will be identified in advance by their commands, she explained. And as of now, the government card cannot be used to move household goods.
Quantico Marine Corps Community Services offers relocation assistance briefs twice a month; dates can be found on the MCCS website at quantico.usmc-mccs.org. Information is also in MARADMIN 226/16. Questions can be directed to the DMB at 703-784-2834.