By Jon Micheal Connor
The Permanent Change of Station process, otherwise known as PCS, can be an immensely stressful time, but thanks to some new initiatives to come in the new year, some of the stresses of moving day may be lifted.
Reimbursements for pet owners
According to a memorandum signed by Donna Haddix, the Military Advisory Panel will soon be authorizing a higher reimbursement fee for the moving costs of pets. The memorandum authorizes reimbursement of up to $550 for a “PCS within the continental United States and up $2,000 for a PCS to and from a location outside the continental United States to cover expenses directly related to pet transportation, such as pet shipping and quarantine fees.”
The revision specifies that reimbursement fees for CONUS (Within the 48 connected United States) moves will include microchipping, boarding fees, hotel service charges for the animal, licensing fees at the new duty station, pet shipping fees if the member flies instead of driving or if the pet is transported separately from the member. As for OCONUS (outside of the connected states) moves, the same applies, but reimbursements are also made for testing of titer levels for entry.
This rule will only apply to one of your household’s dogs or cats. The animal must be owned for personal companionship and service members are responsible for following the rules for importing and exporting a pet to and from the U.S. to be eligible for reimbursement. Denial of entry could result in a denial of reimbursement.
This revision will be published in the Joint Travel Regulations and be effective as of January 1, 2024.
Only one moving company worldwide
In September 2023, the DoD launched Phase 1 of transitioning to a single contracted company for the pickup and delivery of household goods for CONUS moves. It is planned to be fully operational by next PCS season in 2024. For OCONUS moves, Phase 2 will begin in September 2024 to be fully implemented by PCS peak season in 2025.
The change is expected to bring greater efficiencies and accountability to service members and their families, allowing all of your moving services to be conducted by one secure company.
The Global Household Goods contract was awarded to HomeSafe Alliance LLC, a company based in Houston, Texas. Their services include 24-hour personalized customer service, a customized electronic dashboard to track one’s progress of the move process and a digitized inventory of household items.
“This is an opportunity to raise the standard for our families, attract quality capacity to the program and introduce a level of accountability absent today,” stated U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, in a DoD leader overview fact sheet. “Once implemented, this contract will positively impact thousands of service members, civilian employees and their families each year.”
Changes on firearms policy
There will also be a change regarding privately owned firearms without serial numbers, specifically affecting firearms considered to be antique. According to DeShonda Davis-Locke, Rock Island Arsenal installation transportation officer, firearms manufactured after 1968 and without a serial number will not be packed, but those made before this date and without a serial number can be packed.
For those firearms, Customs and Border Protection Form 4455 Certificate of Registration is required—or a bill of sale, a receipt or other document adequately describing the firearm, such as special markings—on the household goods inventory. Previously, there was no distinction for shipping firearms without serial numbers, which caused concern about tracking lost or stolen weapons.
There are also new changes to transporting gun safes. Companies must now either weigh empty gun safes separately or the use the manufacturer’s weight to meet the Joint Travel Regulations requirement to allow 500 pounds of additional weight in personal property shipments.
In addition to these three major modifications, there will be a series of smaller changes coming in the new year that will ease the stress of the PCS process. These include:
- Replacement costs: For lost or damaged items, the replacement liability for the company must be based on the local replacement cost or cover any shipping or delivery costs—without passing on membership fees, which may be required to purchase the item—to the service member. In situations where a repair estimate can’t be obtained, the moving company is responsible for full replacement value.
- In-transit visibility: Moving companies must provide shipment updates in the Defense Personal Property System, such as when it enters or leaves storage, arrives or departs from a port of embarkation or there is a delivery date change. This will allow DoD and service members to track and confirm information about their shipment.
- Specifically for the Army: All Army personal property counselors and quality assurance inspectors are now receiving standardized training and guidance through USTRANSCOM and supplemental training from ASC. This enables service members and their families to receive the same high-quality support and accurate information, regardless of locality or transportation office. Click here to read tips for a short-notice PCS.
Source: U.S. Army