After untold numbers of complaints by military families about their household goods moves this summer, more than 41,000 people have signed a new petition asking military leaders and members of Congress to hold military moving companies accountable.
At Change.org, the petition calls for changing the military move process to be “more user friendly” for military families, and to hold companies accountable to minimize the loss and damage families have been experiencing.
Many military families moving this summer have experienced hardships because of unexpected delays in pickups or delivery of their household goods. In late July, U.S. Transportation Command officials said about one in 10 military members who had moved at that point had experienced delivery delays. There have been complaints about the quality of work, too, which has resulted in loss and damage for some families.
“Military families are tired of how things with the current moving system are being handled,” wrote the military spouse who runs the Military Spouse Chronicles Facebook page, in initiating the petition, which was updated Aug. 26. She noted that services being provided by moving companies is “subpar to what the government should expect from them."
“There is only so much that our military families can do, and without proper accountability, or fear of repercussions from their contracts, they will continue to get away with the mishandling of our service members’ personal property.”
She cited a claims process that is “long and tedious with companies only paying pennies on the dollar for something that is supposed to be protected” under DoD regulations.
Among the solutions she offered is to have move coordinators and quality assurance inspectors properly trained in being a mediator between the military family and the moving company and its crews. Another solution, long proposed by a number of advocates in the military community, is to have less frequent moves.
Officials at U.S. Transportation Command this summer have urged families to reach out to their household goods/transportation offices to learn about their options for assistance, including reimbursement for expenses caused by delays in delivery or pickup.
The problem this summer hasn’t been limited to one company or one area. Rather, the situation has been a convergence of problems that’s created a “perfect storm” for military moves, predicted earlier this year by those in the moving industry.
Among the issues were high move volumes in some high-population regions (Northeast, southern Florida) that has exceeded local capacity; shortages of truck drivers, packers and loaders, made worse by falling unemployment rates that make it easier for some in the trade to accept positions in other industries; and new rules that limit the time truckers can spend behind the wheel.
There have also been issues with communication with families about what to expect.
Before the season began, U.S. Transportation Command officials said they had worked to sign up more moving companies. About 80 new companies were added to the roster of those that are allowed to accept DoD business for household goods moves. Officials are also working on other improvements to the system, such as developing a more robust training program for government employees at local installation household goods/transportation offices, to improve customer support.
“Is it so much to ask our elected officials to step in and protect our service members from the headache and heartache during a PCS?” the petition states.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.