Need-to-Know Changes for the 2022 Moving Season (with Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek and Kristen Johnson Barnat)

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PCS with Military.com Need-to-Know Changes for the 2022 PCS Season (with Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek and Kristen Johnson Barnat)

Rules and regulations around military moves are set by two sources: laws passed by Congress, and policies created and directed by the Pentagon. How those are implemented is up to U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and the military and civilian officials there who oversee the military move system.

In this episode of PCS with Military.com, Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek, who oversees the personal property system, and Kristen Johnson Barnat, a TRANSCOM spokesperson, give us the inside view on rule and regulation changes that impact the 2022 PCS season.

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The following is an edited transcript.

Amy Bushatz: The rules and regulations around military moves are decided by basically two sources. There's rules that come from Congress that are directed by law. And then there's policies that are created by military officials and directed by the Pentagon. In charge of putting all of those in place and taking care of the entire PCS system is U.S. Transportation Command based at beautiful Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

It's that team that helps information filter down to folks doing the moving and who listens to feedback and helps get things changed when needed. Today's guests are from that team. Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek is the director of the Defense Personal Property Management office for U.S. Transportation Command and has been serving in the Air Force for 26 years, which means he is probably moved to time or two himself.

Also joining us is Kristen Johnson Barnat, a spokesperson for TRANSCOM and a military spouse. That means not only has she moved too, she's also deep in the weeds on getting news and information about PCS moves out to military families and service members, just like you and me, Kristen and Gen. Safranek, welcome to PCS With Military.com. I'm so glad you're here with us today.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Well, thanks. I'm glad to be invited.

Kristen Barnat: Yeah, thanks for us.

Amy Bushatz: Wonderful. Okay. So we always start our episodes talking about how many times our guests have moved with or without the military. So sir, maybe you should start tell us how many times you've moved with or without the military.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: I think in total, I've moved about 19 or 20 times. Uh, when, I was a kid, my parents moved across town. When I was about two, can't tell you much about that. But when I was 10, my parents retired and moved from Pennsylvania out to Arizona. So obviously a large significant move for the family. When I graduated the academy, or when I graduated high school, I didn't get selected the academy right away, so I spent about a year after high school, moving around a bit. I moved four times in that year, but most of it was, fit in the back of my car type thing. It really wasn't until I think I got into the service and started moving on a regular basis with a house, a load of items. And since graduating the Air Force Academy, I've moved 13 times in the last 26 years to include moves overseas.

Amy Bushatz: So you kind of tested the system so we get it.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Yeah. Got a lot of the things that I see every day in the office, I've lived over the last two and a half decades.

Amy Bushatz: Kristen, what about you?

Kristen Barnat: Yeah. So I've moved probably at least a dozen times. I feel like I've actually been moving my entire life. It seems like. My dad was Air Force, and so I've moved ever since I was a child, I think I moved about six times with my parents and then after high school, went off to college. So did the standard pack up the car back and forth each summer, going to and from the dorms. Then after that I lived in apartments a couple of times by myself for, being single, moved around a couple of times, maybe three or four different apartment changes, but about four and a half years ago, I married my husband who has been in the military for 17 years. He's PCSed eight times and I've been with him on the last two PCSes. So I'm getting that new perspective as coming from an Air Force child who just, you know, helped watch the moving crew, make sure they didn't mess up my stuffed animal collection to now being that new spouse, that's trying to manage a whole household with a husband and kids and get everybody packed up and moved from point a to point b in a one piece. So bringing that kind of perspective now to my job as well too.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Don't knock the animal collection. That's important. You can't mess that up. They're harder to break there's that, but yeah. Maybe use them as stuffing for your other stuff. Right. But you know, that's important to the ten-year-old set and I've got one of those and I could tell you he's pretty protective of his stuffy collection.

So I'm hoping that you guys today can help us get a perspective on things that have changed or upcoming changes or just things need, people need to know about PCSing in this era. So maybe you could start by giving us a picture of changes for 2022's moving season. What is new specifically for this year?

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Sure I can answer that. There's about 10 new measures that are new for this year and I'll walk you through a few of them. One of the things that we've started to do is really encourage industry to use electronic inventories. Anyone that's moved with the old paper copy sometimes that can be hard to read, especially if you've got the bottom, copy if it's at the bottom all the carbon copied pieces. So by pushing. Moving companies to use the electronic inventories, it really makes it easier to read and understand. And this especially is important when it comes time to do the claims, because the last thing you needed to be doing is debating over what specifically it says where a computer printout is a lot easier.

I also had experience that with my move from Dover to Scott I had an electronic inventory. And it was useful because it was emailed to me, which means I didn't have to find a place to stuff it in the car and potentially lose it. I don't remember which move, but on one of my moves in previous years, I lost the inventory because it's just another thing to keep track of. So by having it in an electronic format, it was in my email. We're also looking at what we call automatic re-weighs. If during the pre-move survey, the estimate is that your shipment will be about 90% or greater of your total weight allotment, then they'll go and make certain that they do an automatic re-weigh.

The idea there obviously is to make certain that if folks are close to being overweight, that we have an accurate weight so that we know whether they are or not. Once again, the last thing you want to do is have a discrepancy between what you thought it weighed, and what the movers may have thought it weighed.

This is especially important to our junior service members who have lower weight limits. And we also know that any sort of an overweight fee can hit them the hardest. So with our enlisted personnel, any shipment that is greater than 4,000 pounds automatically is going to get reweighed and for E6s and above as well as some O1s and 04s, those shipments that are greater than 7,000 pounds automatically get reweighed as well. Once again, it comes down to ensuring that there's that accuracy before anybody gets charged for any sort of an overweight allowance.

And anyone that's moved sometimes, you know, that just trying to figure out, 'Hey, specifically, who is the POC? Who do I call for help?' We've made it a rule that the different transportation service providers are required to input that contact information for the origin agent and the move management company into our IT system, our defense personal property system. And then that thing will automatically email the information to members so that they know specifically who to contact as a point of contact.

Amy Bushatz: So you mentioned 10 things. You know, we don't need to go over all of them today, that would take the whole podcast, right, but where can people find maybe a list of those other seven things, if they're just extra curious.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: We present a lot of that information on our Military OneSource page. You know, a lot of these, changes the analogy that I use is kind of like a diet, right? If you've got somebody that normally eats Coke, cheeseburger and french fries and they say, Hey, I'm going to drink a Diet Coke, a burger, and some sweet potato fries. It's positive changes and it's good changes but they're relatively small in comparison to some of the more significant change that you may need to do with losing weight or getting healthy.

So from a DPMO perspective, from the government perspective, we're trying to put these rules in place to protect service members. But the reality is until we do more of a more significant change, which we hope to get with the Global Household Goods Contract. It's going to be just like that example I used with cutting a few areas here and there but not really making the significant change that is needed with the current system.

Amy Bushatz: Understood. So that's actually a great segue, because I was going to ask you to tell us about what the Global Household Contract, household goods contract is what TRANSCOM expects it to do once it in place? And I would just want to say ahead of time, I know there's sort of limited length to which we can talk about this and what's happening with it because it is still in the contracting process, which means I can talk about it all day and all night, but y'all, not so much. So tell us what you can.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Yeah, exactly. Spot on. So we can't go into the specifics about the company that's selected for the contract due to the ongoing litigation but I can share some general information about the contract and its purpose. Under the Global Household Goods Contract or what we call GHC, DoD has contracted a single move manager to integrate all the functions currently performed by hundreds of commercial moving companies to pack and ship personal property worldwide. It's that single move manager that's going to be your primary point of contact for scheduling and managing your move. And then the local transportation office will remain your primary DoD contact for insuring kind of quality of that contracted move.

The purpose of the GHC is really to focus on the packing and moving of household goods and the storage and transit warehouse that gets done with that move as well as unaccompanied baggage for personnel that may be going overseas. One thing that the GHC does not do a replace currently is our long-term storage or movement of personally owned vehicles.

Those are separate programs and I'm sure many of your listeners are going to wonder, you know, why, why are we pursuing the GHC? And it really comes down to military families are our north star. They're the primary reason that we're seeking this change. The goal with that single move manager is to improve access to and management of quality capacity so that we can meet peak season's demands and enable the department to fix some of the accountability issues and the responsibility that lacks in today's program.

Amy Bushatz: And again,, I know people are thinking, gosh, when is this happening? When is this happening? And the reason we're not talking about that, and can't put a date on it is because it's still under that litigation that you mentioned, right?

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: We can't put a specific date on it, but I can tell you some generalities. So for example, we know that this summer and the 22, what we call 22 moving season or peak season this summer, it will not be in effect in any way, shape or form. And then the odds are in favor with the way that the litigation's going, that it also will not be in place by 2023. So the summer of 2024 that timeframe or the year 2024 is probably the soonest that families will see it in motion.

Amy Bushatz: I think people just really appreciate knowing like what to expect in the future right. Because when we talk about a big change like this, and we've been talking about it for kind of a long time at this point, it's just like, all right, well, when? So I appreciate being able to put a timeframe on that.

Because Kristen I'm sure, you know as a military spouse, it's just really like okay, what changes, when are they and how do they impact me today?

Kristen Barnat: Correct. Yeah. And you asked where people could find information about those changes that are happening. And, we have our Military OneSource webpages where you can go to get information, but we also tell people to connect with your transportation offices. When you do your counseling sessions, go in there, they know the newest updates and they can inform you on anything recent that's changed or changed in the last several years that you might want to know about and should pay attention to you for your next.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, that's such good advice. And since you bring up Military OneSource, I know you helped manage the information that's on there. Can you tell us specifically about what Move.mil is versus Military OneSource? And I guess they're combined now uh, is what it seems. What are the systems people should be using? And then of course, what system requirements or limitations do people need to know about with using Military OneSource or the actor previously known as move.mil? Or the DPS system or anything like.

Kristen Barnat: Sure. So move.mil used to be our information hub is what I like to call it. It's where you would go to get any information on new policy changes, or fact sheets, customer service contact information. And so what we did is we decided to close that down in November of 2021, and we transferred everything over to Military OneSource.

The reason why we did that is so we can have sort of a one-stop shop for any relocation needs that you might have. So over on our new pages, we're specifically can look under the moving and housing section and look for the PCS and military moves landing page. We've created a, several new article pages and sub pages where you can find some really nice information for anything from shipping your personal property, to getting settled in your new community. Now the pages that we have over there that you really want to pay attention to would be our resources pages and our customer service page. Our resource page would have anything like fact sheets, fAQ's, moving tips, articles that you can read on specific topics. And then our customer service page would have all kinds of contact information you might be looking for. Everything from your local transportation office to maybe your military claims office for your specific service branch. So that's our Military OneSource site. And then we have also the defense personal property system, which you can find the login for it on the Military OneSource pages, but that's a separate site that you would go to. And that's where you manage your mood. That's what you use to. Schedule your move file, your claims anything specific that you need to do in regards to shipping your personal property. And like I said, you can find that via the Military OneSource page. But you can also just, once you click onto that, you can save that URL to say your favorites on your computer, so you have easier access in and out of it.

Now that one is having a little bit of more technical problems, sometimes people are experiencing with that one, some compatibility issues. I don't think anybody's having any compatibility issues with Military OneSource, but we have heard some reports about DPS having a little bit of compatibility issues.

And I'll let Gen. Safranek tell you a little bit more about that.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: I think Kristen brings up a good point, right? So anytime you deal with software, there's always the potential for some sort of technical problems. And what I would encourage folks to do is there is a 24 hour help desk that you can call for assistance. And you can find the phone number on both the DPS login page, as well as the Military OneSource web pages. And quite frankly, during my last move I had to use them due to some login issues that I was having. And you called them up. It was really quick. It was really easy and they gave me great advice.

With that being said there are some browsers that work better than others and the Internet Explorer 11 is the preferred browser to use. But I reemphasize again that if for some reason it's too hard to label probably every single problem that, that every person's having. So the important part is just know that there is help out there and there'll be able to kind of walk you through it.

The other thing probably worth highlighting is, DPS does go down intentionally for scheduled maintenance every Friday from 7:00 PM central time till Saturday at five, 5:00 AM central time. So depending on what part of the world you're in if you're trying to get into DPS at that particular time, just realize it may be down for regular scheduled maintenance.

Amy Bushatz: And I'm so glad you bring up the help desk number, because I think we all know that when you, by the time you get to the point where you're dealing with going online and scheduling or using the DPS system, you're just like ready to get it done, or you've set aside this time and then it doesn't work. And that , this is true with anytime you've set aside something, time to do anything, right, iRS, whatever doesn't work. And you're just like, oh, for the love of God. And it, sometimes it can feel like that just like that last straw. And so I think it's really important to talk about the resources, like the help desk that you can call and say 'help!'

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: And the other great thing is we recognize some of the frustrations and limitations with DPS and we're in the process of basically doing the whole thing from scratch. For the last few years, there's been a system in development called mill move and mill move will replace DPS it'll have several new enhancements. Probably the best thing about it is it's being specifically designed to be user-friendly to be intuitive, to be used on mobile platforms like smartphones. The goal really is to make it easier on families since we know that moving can be stressful and that mill move system should be out at the same time as the GHC or the global household goods contract. So we would expect it to be up and running as well in the 2024 timeframe, roughly based on current events.

Amy Bushatz: One of the things I so appreciate about Military OneSource and the effort to put Move.mil over there is it's just this simplifying of resources into one place. I haven't been a military spouse for over 20 years, but I have been a military spouse long enough to remember when the Army had its own version of Military OneSource, Army OneSource, and you know, for a very long time, and I still think in some ways, having your own version of things for each service is all the rage. And the truth of the matter is that so many policies come DoD wide that it can be very difficult for people to keep track of stuff when it's all spread out that way. And it's based off of service or its Army OneSource instead of Military OneSource and so from an Army family perspective, combining Army OneSource with Military OneSource was one of the things that they did that just made my life a whole lot easier because it meant that I knew where to look for things instead of wandering around AKO army knowledge online or whatever the case may be. So I appreciate that effort.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Yeah. And I'll be honest, you hit the nail on the head on a couple of things. One of the really primary purposes of the defense personal property management office is to help to consolidate a lot of those various issues you talked about. So for example, we first looked at counseling. There were over 2,000 different types of forms use to, to counsel service members. And if you want to get things right, it starts with that counseling. So we went through and looked at all those forms and basically found the best of breed. And now we've narrowed it down about two dozen forms that all services use across the board.

That way, whether you move it on an Army base and Air Force base, whether you're a Marine, that's moving on another services installation. You'll have the exact same type of service from the beginning.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Wow. First of all, cutting down from a thousand to a couple of dozen is that's a huge lift. I'm glad that wasn't my job. Cause that sounds like, a lot of paperwork reading and that's not the most fun I think I've ever done. But I'm thinking about that sweep in 2009, 2010 of creating joint basis as a part of the ending of BRAC. And of course you're a military spouse or a military family who's in the Army but your installations Air Force led now that you're in an Air Force transportation office.

Kristen Barnat: I mean, I think having everything kind of standard, just, it clears up questions. It makes it much easier for us to communicate out what's going on and sending people to the right information and not having to worry about having to get really granular into specifics and sending them to multiple different websites or multiple different sources to find the information they need. That is another reason why we decided to go over to Military OneSource was that, so you have one place that you could go to find all kinds of different information, including personal property so that you weren't just scouring the internet, trying to remember all the different websites that everybody told you to go check out and calling all the different phone numbers. It's all in one central location to find.

Amy Bushatz: So, can you guys tell me what are some things that have changed in the last few years that people might not know about? Because they haven't moved recently. We've talked about things that are coming up, but of course, people don't move every year. And so changes that have happened over the last few years are brand new information to somebody moving this year. What are some examples of changes that those people should know?

Kristen Barnat: Yeah, there's been several new things that have happened over the last couple of years. That would be really good for people to know and make sure that they're aware of before they're moved, because we always tell everybody be your own advocate, make sure you know what your rights and your entitlements are so that nothing gets overlooked and you get all the services that are promised to you and your move. One of those big changes would be our changes to the timeframes for filing household goods or claims for household goods. So, we switched from having 75 days to submit a notification for filing a claim, to 180 days. You get six months to let the moving company know that you plan to file a claim and what you're going to be filing a claim about.

And then from there you have nine months to go into DPS, fill out that full itemized claim thing. So putting out all the details of exactly what got scratched and what would be a replacement piece for it, and you know, all all of the details in regards to your specific items. And I will say that this was helpful to me on my last move, because we got our stuff in August and I thought, I don't want to have to unwrap all of the Christmas boxes to find out if my Nutcracker collection was destroyed or not. It's August, I've got a toddler to chase around. I don't have time for that. Luckily, Christmas came within that 180 days. So I was able to wait until the timeframe to open up that box, look, make sure everything was good to go, and I didn't need to file a claim. So that was really helpful. So I pay, make sure that people take full advantage of that.

Obviously, if you can get to things faster and go through your items and get the claim process going, as soon as you can that's great. But you have a little bit more time now if you're your life just doesn't lend to that.

The other things in regards to the timings that has changed is that we're also making sure that moving companies are getting back to you much sooner on your claims than they were before. We want them to be in really good contact with you to make sure that everything is moving along in a timely manner. So once you submit your claims, they have 15 days to confirm to you that they got your note and that they're working on it and that they got to get on top of things. And then if you have any items that are a thousand dollars or less, they have 30 days to get back to you and make an offer.

If it's over a thousand dollars, they'll have a little bit more time. They have 60 days, but they can't just dilly dally and hang out for months on this, they got to get back to you in a pretty fast, much faster timeframe. And then once you start that negotiation process back and forth with doing counter offers, they have to reply back to you within seven days of you sending back a counter offer. So they have just about a week to go back and forth with you to get this thing wrapped up and going. And then there's a couple other different timing things that have changed, like the amount of time that you have to hire, they have to hire a repair company, or get things inspected. And also they have about 30 days once you finally settled on this is the amount that I'm comfortable with, you can cut me a check for it. They have 30 days to cut you that check and get you your payment, or to come pick up any salvage items that you want disposed of.

Amy Bushatz: So what I hear you talking about is a lot of changes that have to do with loss and breakage, and just giving people more padding really in their lives to take care of those things.

Although I, you gave your example of your nutcrackers and I'm sort of chuckling because of course, if you abide by the timeline that you just laid out and unpack your stuff and look through it, lickety split. You could have your nutcracker collection replaced by Christmas and be able to use it instead of finding out at Christmas that it's not so much anymore.

Kristen Barnat: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: I think it also goes back to highlight a previous point because there are changes that we're making and we're trying to make those to benefit the customer you know, it's, it's hard for them to keep up with the changes. It's even hard for me to have them all memorized to be a hundred percent honest. Right? So it's helpful to go to someone or some place that does have them down solid. And a lot of that is going to start with that initial counseling. So I just really encourage listeners, hey, if you're getting ready for a move, really take that counseling serious, sit down and make certain you're aware of what all your rights are and what all the changes are.

Kristen Barnat: Another good place to go would be our Military OneSource web pages over on our resources page we have fact sheets where we've pulled out things specifically like all of the new time changes on these household good claims and laid it all out for you so that you have it on a one-page document that you can just run down like a check list to make sure you're doing everything on the correct time and you're covering all of your bases.

And I would just say some, the other things that we've changed over the last couple of years that people should know about would be inconvenience claims. One nice feature that we added on is that if your shipments only going to be delayed for about a week or so for those first seven days, you don't have to turn in receipts. You can just take a baseline flat reimbursement rate, which will be based on the local per diem rate. And and then that way you just, you submit how many days you were inconvenienced and they just pay you that flat rate and you're done and you're on your way. Now, if it goes a little longer than a week, then you will have to turn in receipts for anything beyond those seven days.

But I think at that point, you'll probably have gotten over the shock of your shipment being delayed. And you'll probably have gotten your ducks in a row and kind of sorted through what all you need to do. So it might be a little easier to remember to manage to collect all those receipts and turn them in to get your reimbursement. And then of course it in either point if during this first seven days or then after them if anything totals out more than the local per diem rate for those first seven days, and you really want to get paid back for that, you can still submit your receipts and ask to be paid back for that total amount.

Amy Bushatz: I appreciate how any of these changes are really the result of thinking it seems thinking about the capacity of humans to handle stress. How much more stress you can handle goes down when you're already under tremendous amounts of stress from a PCS. And I think we all know that moving is stressful. It's stressful even if it goes the, if it's the best move you've ever had, it's still stressful because you're changing locations and you're packing up your kids and all, you know, there's so much uncertainty and the military life and PCSing, and I really think after having done it several times, is among the more stressful things that military families sustain just on a regular basis. And so it's really important, I think from a military family community perspective to cut whatever excess stresses off the corners when we can such as having a thousand different forms that kind of blows my mind that, and I'm sure that blew your mind too, when you saw that there were that many different options out there. And then you wanted to whittle them down. So just those incremental changes I think are huge deal.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: And we're constantly thinking about exactly that. In, in one area in particular, which seems small seems insignificant until it goes awry is personnel's private information. So as we've been working through the software upgrades and the processes, we've been working very hard to eliminate the need for social security in the moving process. We're not a hundred percent of the way there, but we've had some success over the last year working with customs and border protection so that social security numbers aren't needed for their processes. So that as we move household goods it doesn't necessarily need private information in that way, because the last thing you want is for a move to go great but then that information gets stolen. And then like you said, it just becomes another stressor that hits them on the back side.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I want to talk really quickly about pro gear and ask if there's any changes coming up about that. One of the concerns I've heard a lot recently, and I think maybe this has gotten more prevalent because of the pandemic, is the restriction around specifically around spouse pro gear. Are there any plans to extend that, to include, for example, homeschooling supplies, because in class teacher supplies are included, but not homeschooling supplies for people who teach their own kids and then other things like that. Any plans along those lines?

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Sure. So that's actually a really great question, but I want to kind of take a step back. And make certain to listeners understand the term pro gear. Cause you may have folks that are listening for the first time and others that

Amy Bushatz: Maybe I don't understand pro grear.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Pro gear is all those books and military reference materials, professional tools to do your job, you know, Including some sort of instruments or specialized clothing it really is that individually it can be individually owned or some sort of issued gear. But it comes down to those things that the service member needs to physically do their occupation as a military member. And at the same time there's benefits for spouses and whatever their profession is as well. And it is an entitlement that is determined by the services and what they've laid out is that service members can move up to 2,000 pounds of pro gear and spouses can move up to 500 pounds of pro gear.

So an important thing to emphasize here is the need to intentionally separate those items, have them identified as pro gear so that the movers can mark them accordingly and then weigh them separately so that doesn't count as a part of your allotted weight allotment. Now, like I said, an important part of that is it's an entitlement. And so pro gear is managed by each branch of the service. And so I know this sounds like a broken record but I'd recommend that any of the listeners speak specifically with their local transportation office for specific details on what can and cannot be included under this category. And then work with them to provide some sort of documentation that you might need to show that supplies are considered conducting a part of a particular profession. I know obviously the hot topic you talked about was homeschool teaching. And I think the important distinction there and once again, I'd worked with the transportation office but important distinction is, I helped my kids with their homework, especially in the last couple of years with the being kind of tele-schooling environment, online classes. But no way shape or form, would I consider myself a homeschool teacher, per se. Whereas I've got friends of mine that full-time homeschool kids as a part of the, kind of the plan and the curriculum. And they may be in a different category, but it's that transportation office that's going to be able to help decide and help folks walk through that. And at the same time, I think it's really worth noting that the transportation offices may execute on a case by case basis the ability to authorize additional way allowances as necessary.

Amy Bushatz: Should military families expect the same challenges for 2022 that they had, or perhaps just heard rumors about, which sometimes they're worse than actually having them in 2021? Abnormally long delivery times, shortages that result in last minute, or perhaps unwanted DITY or also known as PPM moves and that kind of thing. Is that coming down the pipeline?

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Yeah that's, I'll say great questions with an s on it kind of unpacks a lot. So I think I'll break that into three sections, one, an assessment kind of the current operating environment, and then what I'll call the expectations of industry and an expectations of service members. You know, for the current operating environment, I'd love to give you a different answer. But the reality is we're still seeing the disruptions of the global supply chain from a lack of labor and drivers and trucks and rail and vessels and longshoremen, and we expect it to persist at a minimum through the summer, if not through the rest of the year. And we're continuing to hear from industry engagements about how the moving industry and the storage industry are competing for that labor. And it's a fierce competition. I would argue that is as long as families are watching the news at night and whether it's 60 minutes or 20-20, or NBC news or something, and they're seeing a news broadcast on supply chain issues and labor issues, as long as when you go to the commissary and you're seeing that there's notes on, hey, only get one gallon of milk and only get a one package of chicken or, you, you end up going shopping for something else, like car parts and there's shortages, as long as we continue to see those types of challenges and other industries, the reality is the household goods industry is affected by all those same issues. And it's still going to be there. Now with that TRANSCOM has taken some action working with the different military departments and services.

One of the things that we've done is we've worked with the services for a goal of not moving more than 9,000 military families per week. The idea there is, hey we know that this capacity is constrained. Let's not flood it too many moves per week, try to keep it below 9,000 to the max extent possible. And in order to kind of soften the demand of the workflow there. At the same time, it allows the industry also to have a better plan for the expected work that's coming their way. And the goal is to help ensure that customers receive that quality relocation experience as we've mapped out and in kind of forecasted the numbers and modes.

We're seeing that as a collective, the DoD is estimating and about five to 10% less personnel moving during this peak season than what we had lined up last year. So same thing, not having as many people try to push through the system, hopefully will allow it to be relieved a little bit. And now with that, all being said, expectations of industry, right?

Our message to industry has remained consistent throughout. It has been that, hey, only accept shipments that you can handle safely and with a competent crew. Now there's some potential impacts that it may result in having to make adjustments to when movers can move customers. But it's, I think it's better to adjust some of the timing than to bring in an unqualified crew or risk cabin note crews show up on the moving day that's a worse scenario.

So what I hear you saying is that we're going to have some of those challenges that we have last year because of shortages and because of having to pivot as a result of those things, but maybe not quite as bad because reduced number of people move or fewer people moving this year than last year.

That's probably a fair statement. And in what I would say too is when it comes down to the move there's going to be particular issues. And with a 325,000 ish moves a year to try to figure out exactly how to work at it every single location is almost impossible. So that's why we really emphasize that local transportation office, your local unit changing command.

I can tell you even before any of the supply chain issue and moving issues was congested like it is now, 20 years ago twice in pre two previous moves, I had to change my report in a later than date. And the process was relatively easy. I mean, it was go to my unit leadership, say, hey, I need to change. In one case I was getting married and needed to work around my wedding dates. And another case, the Air Force was trying to move me fast due to the Exceptional Family Member Program and some medical situations with my son, and they just honestly trying to help or moving me too fast. And I went to the out, my own losing unit's chain of command said, hey, can I stick around for another 30 days to get some of these things done? I need the time. They said we don't have an issue with that. They asked air force personnel center to check with the gaining unit and ask the gaining unit, hey, do you mind if this person shows up 30 days later, getting unit understood in both situations, said not a problem. Once the losing unit and the gaining unit kind of gave a thumbs up to the personnel center. Personnel center was like, good we're agnostic, as long as the units are happy.

Amy Bushatz: So you mentioned two other categories of things. We have current operating environment. And what were the other two?

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Yeah, the other one was that expectations to industry. And like we talked about our messages remain consistent with industry that, hey, only accept those shipments you can handle safely and with a competent crew. At the same time if something does go wrong because the moving company has failed to keep up it's end of the bargain, then we do expect them to do those inconvenience claims.

And then I am gonna hit that third category which is the expectations for service members, right? So, and you talked about PPMS or personally procured moves, and I would tell you my expectation for service members is to say at no point should a customer feel pressured to conduct a PPM or personally procured move.

That's an option but they should not be forced into a corner. And if they find out that their TSP or transportation service provider, that industry company is pushing them that way, then by all means report that your transportation office. And if you need the time to change, work through your unit leadership to change your move dates then get pushed into doing a PPM.

At the same time, probably the biggest change for the summer, and knowing that these supply chain issues existed, we looked at over 18,000 what we call channels, different ways that household goods can move from one location on the planet to another. We looked at the amount of time that it should take to go from one place to another, and we recalculated all those times. And the analogy that I kind of use is if I'm on a road trip from California to Pennsylvania, and I tell my kids, hey, we'll be there in 24 hours. They're going to be mad when I'm not there 24 hours later, is that my fault or their fault? Well, it's mine because it's not a possible thing to do to go that far of a distance, right? Where if I tell them, hey kids, we're taking a four day road trip. Then they'll plan accordingly. It's the same thing, even with shorter trips, right? If you know that there's construction on the road, if you know that there's bad weather, if you know that there's a traffic jam. I mean, we all use that with Google maps and hey has there been a car accident? How much time it normally takes versus how much time it currently takes due to certain conditions? Same concept, but done through those transit times. So I'd really encourage listeners, when you sit down in that counseling, you figure out where you're moving, find out what that expected transit time is because it's a significant difference. If you move, let's say in the month of September and you think it's going to take two weeks, you're in shorts and t-shirts because September is pretty warm. If it's not two weeks and you're moving overseas and it ends up being calculated as two months, Well, then you're going to need to bring some long sleeves and jackets with you so that you can plan properly. And we really wanted to make certain that families knew what the expectation would be for the time it would take for that particular leg of their move so that they could plan appropriately.

Amy Bushatz: So before we close out today, I want to give you a chance to talk about how military families can get their concerns or voices heard. You mentioned helpline for solving problems right now, but how do we follow up with TRANSCOM regarding the move process as a whole. How do we give feedback? And I know that you have a survey that's really important to fill out, so we'll make sure you have a chance to mention that as well.

Kristen Barnat: So we have our official customer satisfaction survey that goes out to everyone about their move. Previously, you would get it the end of your move, and it just kind of asks you questions about your moving company, but we're actually expanding that this year. And we're including additional questions that are going to ask you things about all of the different groups that you've worked with. So, everything from the transportation office, to the moving company, to the packing crew, to the delivery crew, and we're going to be sending these surveys out after each encounter.

So you'll be getting mini surveys as opposed to one big survey and you'll have the opportunity to fill it out while all the information is still fresh in your mind, right after something happened, instead of trying to remember back a couple months before how something went. And, these surveys are going to come to you via text message and emails.

So you have an easy way to get them and then respond back and they're going to include both a rating scale so that, you know, I'm very happy to very unhappy rating. And then also open-ended boxes where you can write in anything and everything that you need to tell us about your move.

And that's really important to fill out those open comment boxes because giving us a little bit more specifics on things really helps us track if there's any trends of problems that are happening and evaluate those problems. We have live people who look at those questions, they evaluate it all. They go back and they look at our policies and determine, are is there something we can change or we can adjust here to make this problem stop occurring in the future.

And then we also look for feedback on those moving companies. We want to know which ones are doing good and which ones are not doing so good so that we know who to keep awarding business to and who to maybe consider cutting from the program. So very important to fill out those customer satisfaction surveys.

And then of course, at any point, if you're having trouble during your move, we want you to call and let us know if there's an issue. So call your transportation office, let them help you sort through any immediate problem that you're having. Don't wait until the end to just tell us about it during the survey, let us help fix it right then and there.

And then you can still tell us about it during the survey. And then know also that those transportation offices, they gather information and they're constantly reporting back to us on what's going on out in the field so that we can, again, keep looking at our policies, keep looking at how things are going and make changes as we're going along. And that's going to make things better for you now. And in the future.

Amy Bushatz: Well, thank you so much to both of you for joining us today on PCS With Military.com. It's just really valuable to hear this information straight from the top, if you will and coming to a straight from TRANSCOM as individuals, get ready for their moving season. So thank you so much.

Brig. Gen. Joel Safranek: Thanks for having us.

Kristen Barnat: Thank you.

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