After the unfortunate moving season of 2018, with numerous military families reporting damage to their household goods and delays, U.S. Transportation Command has been working with defense and service officials to improve the relocation experience.

“The focus is to collectively improve the relocation experience by synchronizing the personnel and logistics communities,” said Army Maj. David Dunn, spokesman for TRANSCOM, the executive agency for military household goods moves.

One solution they are considering is whether service officials can spread out service member moves more throughout the year, rather than crunching them into a short window during the summer. That is also when many civilian moves take place in the private sector, and it puts a strain on increasingly limited resources in the moving industry.

The problem is exacerbated by a critical shortage of truck drivers and an upturned economy that has resulted in a shortage of labor for packing and loading crews.

The shortage of truck drivers, especially, has been a growing problem. One of TRANSCOM’s focus areas is to increase the capacity, with more moving companies that offer quality service.

Among the others are improving the customer technology interface and improving customer support.

During a family forum town hall at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting in October, an Army wife pressed Army leaders to hold companies accountable in order to keep the moving season from being a financial burden for military families.

Companies are held accountable when they don’t meet performance standards or violate business rules such as missed delivery dates, Dunn said.

“During the 2018 peak season, there were numerous suspensions and letters of warning issued due to poor performance,” he said.

TRANSCOM officials are “analyzing the best way to provide transparency to our service members of [companies’] performance. It is a complicated problem because we have over 800 domestic [companies] that service over 800 domestic areas.”

The household goods moving process has moved more toward the internet and away from in-person move counseling at personal property offices on installations. Officials are looking at ways to standardize and improve counseling across the services, Dunn said.

“Since counseling is a service-owned function, non-standardization can lead to confusion and frustration for our service members.”

Officials have drafted a standardized training plan that all personal property personnel will be required to complete, as one initiative.

Sources said TRANSCOM continues to look for any suggestions from industry and others on improving the process and experience for military families.

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.

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