What Do You Do When Your Movers Can't Get on Base?

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A Navy dependent looks over household items.
A Navy dependent looks over household items in her front yard at the base housing area at Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn. (U.S. Navy/Chris Desmond)

We're in the middle of a PCS to a new duty station. We live on a base where everyone has to get a background check and a visitor's pass to get on base unless they are escorted on by a military ID card holder.

Well, there I was waiting for my packing team to arrive when they called me to say they couldn't pass the background check and asked if I could come pick them up at a gas station off base and drive them on.

I didn't want to screw up my move, so I went and got them. Now I'm thinking maybe there was a better way to take care of this. What should I have done?

We get it -- that panic that sets in as you realize that there's a major problem in what was supposed to be a finely tuned packing and moving system. Worse, you were probably on a tight timeline that you were trying to keep.

When are military moves not on some kind of complicated, important timeline?

Starting in May 2020, all movers are supposed to pass a background check with the company hiring them before being sent out to work wth you. It's possible, however, that a packing company does not follow those rules, and you still wind-up with this problem. 

Before this rule change was announced, officials with U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom), which manages the military move system, said the problem is a common one.   

That's because while the Defense Department has given bases general directions about what sorts of criminal records are allowed on base, they also allow base commanders to kick those rules up a notch.

For example, DoD rules state that as long as someone does not have an active warrant out for their arrest, they can get a visitor pass. But officials at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, have chosen also to block many would-be visitors who have a criminal record, including any applicant with a past felony conviction of any kind. That means that if your mover or packer has ever been convicted on felony drug charges, for example, he won't be permitted on Fort Campbell.

So what does that mean for you? Officials said they understand how frustrating it can be to get a call from your movers saying they can't get on base. They also said while picking them up at the gas station definitely seems like a problem-solving solution, it probably isn't the best idea.

What should you have done? Even at the risk of throwing a wrench in your moving plans, they said, the best decision is to give the transportation company you're working with a call and tell them what is going on. Also, they said, call your base transportation office to make sure they are tracking the issue and can help you get everything squared away again.  

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