Military families have spoken and written a lot about their various moving experiences. But we know that there are two sides to any story. The other side of a PCS story is the perspective of the movers who pack and move your household goods!

When you do a military move, the military contracts with local moving companies to come to your house, pack up everything into boxes, and then load those boxes onto trucks and shipping containers. You may only spend two days with movers in your house (packing day and loading day), but these movers are professionals who do one job after another, especially during the peak moving months of the summer.

To truly appreciate the experience of military movers, one of our Spouse Sponsors, Thalia Castro, interviewed Miguel Mojica. He has worked with Monterey Transfer and Storage for 21 years. After more than two decades on the job, Mojica has completed countless moves for numerous military families. Thalia shared that “Miguel, Jimmy and Mundo did an excellent job packing our things, and explained the tasks for the day. He was comfortable answering any questions we had. He is very knowledgeable with military moves.”

interview with military movers

Jimmy, Miguel, and Mundo of Monterey Transfer and Storage. Photo courtesy of Thalia Castro

What’s your favorite part of the job?

I don’t have to pay for a gym membership! The jobs helps me stay fit, so I get a lot of exercise. Also, everyday is a new location, new family, so I enjoy the travel to a new pick up location. It’s always different. 85% of the jobs we do are for military moves.

What are some things movers won’t pack, and why?

Nothing flammable, candles, batteries, rusted grills, propane, oils, and no liquids, open or unopened. There are laws that prohibit certain materials to be shipped, just like in the post office. The containers could be in storage for a long time or exposed to heat, or the pressure from the move. They can leak and damage your belongings. This makes a PCS even more stressful because of damages. It can also cause delays with customs if they are moving overseas. If that happens, the moving company also gets penalized, our warehouse is shutdown, and the military will not give us any more work. So it’s out of precaution for safety, and to protect your belongings we can’t pack the things we mentioned–liquids, etc.

Other things we can’t do is disassemble trampolines or swing sets. Patio furniture is fine as long they don’t have any mold. Washer and dryers must be disconnected from the wall. Movers can’t do that either.

Do you have any suggestions to help military families move?

A lot of people like to help or prepare for the move by taking things apart or taking down all the picture frames from the house and categorizing around the house. This only delays the process. Only remove the things you don’t want us to pack like important documents, clothes, and medications for example. Leave everything else how you normally live. That way, the process goes faster and we are able to label everything according to the room it belongs in. It allows us to do our job properly. When you get to your new duty station, the company delivering your household goods knows what rooms the boxes are assigned and this makes it easier for the service member to check the items on the list.

Some people like to color coordinate [labels on boxes]. We think that’s a good idea and it also helps make the move less stressful for the families. We have also seen families use QR codes, so they know what’s inside the boxes. Finally, you should contact your moving coordinator if you have any questions or concerns.

What about plastic containers? Can we leave our things in it or do they have to be repacked?

It depends, you can use plastic containers but we still have to check them. If the container has any breakables like coffee mugs, for example, we have to take it all out and repack them. Otherwise, they run the risk for damages. We provide all the packing materials necessary, but plastic containers are allowed if that’s your preference.

How has COVID has affected your work?

When the pandemic started, all military moves were on hold. A lot of people lost their job. Luckily, I was able to stay and continue working in the storage until we could resume work normally. Now, thankfully, we are back doing moves and most people got their job back. It just looks a little different because of COVID protocols. We are using masks and most of us are vaccinated already. I have an appointment for my shot next week. But I must admit I’m not looking forward to it. I have a fear of long needles. But companies are doing what they can to make their move safe.

How do you keep yourself and your team safe on the job?

Besides following COVID protocols, learning how to use your tools like a dolly, asking each other for help to lift boxes, or wear a back brace. (But I don’t use those, I’m still young, haha!)

What are some things the moving companies can do to improve military moves?

For this area (Monterey) we don’t have a lot of licensed drivers (CDL-A) We depend on other moving companies from San Diego, for example, to drive by the area to pick up from our warehouse. This can delay moves and create uncertainty of where the shipment is.

Miguel demonstrates that military moves are hard work for the movers, and require coordination with a network of drivers and movers, not only at the initial pickup location, but also at storage facilities and the final delivery address. Military families, let’s be thankful for all the hard work our movers do to pack us and move us during our PCS moves!