Military Families Lose Almost $5,000 Per PCS Move
Cost for Military Families Each PCS Move is Nearly $5,000
In a recent article, Military.com reported that military families are losing an average of $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses each time they move, according to survey data just released by a national nonprofit organization. This data comes on the heels of the realization that most Service Members’ moves were put on hold in March because of concerns about the spreading coronavirus, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has extended that hold through June 30, while allowing some exceptions.
Some service members are moving to new duty stations, based on exceptions to policy. About 12,500 service members have moved since the stop movement order in March, or about 30% of the usual volume, said Rick Marsh, director of the Defense Personal Property Program for TRANSCOM. Another 30,000 have asked for exceptions that will allow them to move. But once the spigot is opened and all moves are allowed, they will not all take place this summer. This year, the notion of the peak moving season has changed, said Marsh, in a Wednesday call with reporters.
Peak Moving Season Moved to Fall and Winter This Year
During normal times, the peak military moving season begins around May 15 and extends through August, but many people move in June and early July, putting a strain on the capacity of moving companies. Service officials are working now to identify their projections of moves for the rest of the year, Marsh said. “The demand will be significant, so I anticipate moves going well into fall and early winter.” It remains to be seen how many moves in the commercial sector will also be pushed back to fall and winter.
MFAN researchers recommend that military officials:
- Provide more information to families about the actual cost of moving
- Inform them on what they can do to prepare
- Improve the reimbursement process
- Compensate service members fairly for loss and damage
Pandemic Exacerbates Many Issues
And as U.S. Transportation Command shifts to putting the management of military moves into hands of a private company, officials should incorporate oversight, transparency and performance metrics that recognize families’ experiences during their moves, researchers said. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating many issues for military families, such as problems with food insecurity, debt, lack of adequate emergency savings, difficulty getting medical appointments, spouse employment, and isolation, said Shelley Kimball, MFAN’s senior director of research and program evaluation.
New Military Parent Concerns Surfaces in Survey
One issue that popped during this survey which hadn’t shown up in their previous seven years of research is military parents’ concerns that seeking mental health care for their children will affect that child’s ability to later enter military service, said Kimball. Military Times has reported that several military dependents are being booted out of basic training because of various notations in their minor dependent records. Often the parents themselves had no idea the notations were in their children’s records. But the notations were discovered because the dependent medical records were merged with their new military service record while they were in basic training.
Current Survey Results Show Majority Didn’t See a Change
An MFAN survey released in February 2019 was key in bringing to lawmakers’ attention the serious conditions of mold, vermin, water leaks and other problems in some privatized housing. But this current survey, conducted some nine months later to revisit the issues of privatized housing, as defense and service officials were digging in to the root problems of housing, found that of those living in privatized military housing, 72% said they hadn’t seen a change. Repairs were still needed, or they still felt they were being treated unfairly, and their concerns were not being heard. Another 19% said things were better, and 8% said things were worse. Those in the ranks of E1 to E3 reported the highest negative perceptions of the condition of their homes, with 36% describing their satisfaction with the condition of their home as being “very negative.”
It is too early to tell whether customer satisfaction surveys show that quality of moves in this slower period has improved, but there has been good anecdotal feedback from military families about their moves, Marsh said. In years past, some military families have had problems with poor service and damaged household goods, partly because the moving industry was overwhelmed by the crush of moves in the military and civilian sectors in the same time frame.
Texas to Be Focus of More Detailed Project
Meanwhile, at the direction of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, TRANSCOM has implemented safety measures designed to protect service members and their families who are moving during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey findings have also pointed MFAN researchers to launch a more detailed project focused on Texas, Razsadin said, starting in the fall.
The survey indicates that Texas military families need more support in some areas, like food insecurity, she said. Texas was the state with the highest frequency of food insecurity, according to survey findings. Food insecurity means that at some point during the year, a family does not know where the next meal will come from.
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