Major changes are coming to the PCS process

Eye on Veterans
March 08, 2019 - 10:45 am

Photo by Karen A. Iwamoto, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

Changes are being made to the Permanent Change of Station (PCS) process, changes centered around privatization that aim to allow service members and their families more control over their moves. According to Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) the new way of doing things, being rolled out over the next two years, will shift responsibility for the moving process to the service member.

While there is some concern that more responsibility will add to the already high-stress levels service members face during a PCS, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) believes that privatization will actually give them more peace of mind. IVMF Senior Director for Strategy and Performance Beth Kubala says that by allowing the service members and families more control in the process, such as researching and choosing available moving companies, TRANSCOM is looking to eliminate the "luck of the draw" style assignment of movers by PCS coordinators.

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"You often had to go through two or three layers to set a move date, set a pick-up date, or get a question answered," says Kubala, a retired Army officer who made several PCS moves during her career. "So, I believe this is supposed to make those layers of interaction fewer and enable direct coordination between the service member and their commercial transportation company."

While Kubala says the plan makes sense theoretically, she does have concerns over how it will actually work out. Chief among those are the potential difficulties families might face when dealing with a moving company that's on the other side of the country, or the world, as well as the potential for problems with junior service members coordinating their own moves at a time when they're brand new to military life.

Still, she thinks giving more power over their moves to the individuals, and their families can be a good thing. She also believes the service members and families will be able, willing, and vocal when it comes to helping TRANSCOM identify any kinks in the process that need to be worked out.

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"I think they really are listening to the concerns of military families who have voiced their issues with the different processes over time," Kubala says. "I would like to believe they truly are looking for a new process that is smoother and better for those service members whose household goods are crossing, literally, the world through the year."

The initial changes being instituted in 2019 include TRANSCOM posting customer satisfaction scores for movers online, an increase in quality assurance inspections of movers, and more crating of household goods for moves within the U.S. Additionally, in May a 24/7 hotline for those having difficulty with their moves will go live.

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