Interview with PCSgrades, Community Outreach Director, MJ Boice and with PCS Advocate Megan Harless talking about the Stop Move Order’s military family Coronavirus Impact
What the Stop Move Order means for your PCS:
The Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security, so they are exempt from the DoD policy. They still plan to do PCS moves this summer. They will try to spread out the summer move season to prevent backlog. If you have a move before April 30, they have one set of guidelines. There are additional guidelines for May and forward.
CONUS moves are all stopped until May 11, and OCONUS is suspended until May 25. There are 20,000 shipments scheduled just for the month of April. Transcomm may not have the capacity with their local agents to get your shipment serviced before May.
Army Emergency Relief has extended their service base to include National Guard and Reserve soldiers. You no longer need to be on Title 10 orders to receive funding. AER offers financial support to soldiers facing financial hardship: housing issues, car repairs, etc. They have additional funding for COVID to recover lodging costs if you are stuck during a PCS move.
If the movers have already boxed up your things and now the orders are delayed for months, are you allowed to unbox anything?
The moving company is saying if they unbox anything, then they will have to start the moving process over again. In this situation, they could request an exception to policy. There are exemptions built into the Stop Move Order. They may be able to come pick it up and put your things in storage. Especially if you bought a house at the other duty station and are facing 2 mortgages, you may qualify for the exemption. Be prepared that your household goods may not move with you and could sit in storage for a few months.
For families who are expecting a baby during the Stop Move delay period, what options do they have?
It’s going to be personal preference. You could request an exemption for medical reasons. Women are considered a high-risk category with COVID. Discuss with your doctor and the service member’s chain of command to see what the options are and what would be best for the family.
If I resigned from my job to prepare for a move, and are feeling the financial strain now of managing two households, what resources are there?
A lot of spouses are in this situation. Check to see if your branch of service offers any hardship duty pay during this COVID situation. That will help relieve financial strain. AER, Navy Marine Corps Relief Fund, and the Air Force Relief Fund all have their own guidelines. Check if you are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits. Many states with a stay-at-home order understand that you cannot apply for a job right now.
Tips for what to do while waiting for PCS orders during the Stop Move:
There are two points of contact: your local chain of command, and your local transportation office. These will be the most accurate because they are handling your specific situation.
If your PCS is on hold, start your purge. If you have extra time, start going through boxes and closets and cleaning things out. Get rid of the things that your kids no longer play with. This will help cut down on extra weight for your move.
Prepare your PCS labels. You can get a stamp with your name and address, or order sets online. Then if it goes missing or ends up in someones’s shipment, they can contact you. Get these ready so you have them on hand when you get the permission to move forward with the move.
Do your inventory of high-value items. Do a little each day to prepare. Take photos, write down item ID numbers, etc.
If you want to keep things separated, you can begin to pre-pack now. Box up your winter clothes as you switch them out. The moving companies say that it’s okay to pack your own boxes, just don’t seal it. Then they can check inside and verify the contents for the inventory.
Prepare for delays on the receiving end. The Stop Move order has created such a backlog that a lot of things sitting in storage have to get delivered before other things. If you need something to get by for a while: crock pot, coffee pot, blender, etc– then go ahead and put it on your list of things you want to save and withhold from the packing pile.
Start saving for moving expenses. If vacations are cancelled, save up your travel refunds and put it in your PCS fund. This will give you a bigger cushion for hotel expenses, longer stays, etc.