Mover Holds Troops' Household Goods Hostage

A servicemember carrying a box

Officials with the agency responsible for service member's household good shipments called reports of goods being held hostage by Defense Department transportation subcontractors until they are paid an "isolated incident."

"This was an isolated incident involving a local agent who was allegedly not paid for services provided," said Mitch Chandran, a spokesman for the Defense Department's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). "We were notified in early June that a certain agent was holding four household goods shipments in its warehouse, pending resolution of a financial dispute with a DoD-contracted Transportation Service Provider."

The military commonly issues contracts with civilian transportation companies to move household goods. The providers may, in turn, subcontract out portions of their services to other agents. For example, a transportation provider may handle the actual moving portion of the work, but contract out household goods packing to a separate agent.

A memo was sent June 17 to Defense Department moving, storage and shipping contractors notifying them that paying their subcontractors and agents in a timely manner is a "critical element" of their responsibility, according to an Army Times report. The memo warned that placing a lien on, holding, impounding or otherwise interfering with household good and baggage movement is against federal law.

Chandran said the goods that were being held were located in Georgia. He said three of the four household good shipments holds have been resolved and delivered to their owners. The fourth is in process.

Summer is considered the height of military moving season, with the busiest time arriving around July 4. If service members have problems during a move, Chandran said they should notify their local origin or destination transportation office.

Information for those offices can be found at or by emailing SDDC's digital hotline at, he said.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

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