By Carla Olivo, PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications

Let’s face it; no matter how often you do it, military moving is stressful. Having all your worldly goods packed up and hauled away wears on the best nerves. Saying goodbye to family and friends, leaving your favorite book club or bunco group, having to part with the best house in the best neighborhood you’ve ever lived in is stress on steroids.

We’ve all heard the horror stories! Valuable antiques damaged beyond repair. Irreplaceable family heirlooms lost forever. Aunt Sallie’s table, Grandma’s sewing machine, and prized baby clothes all sacrificed to the PCS gods. Or rather damaged, disrespected, and sometimes flat out lost by seemingly incompetent packers and movers.

But I have to say, despite the anxiety that sometimes accompanies finding a new house, a new school, a new spouse club, my biggest stressor with every move is thinking about what I might lose THIS time. Would this PCS be the move where my original Dark Side of the Moon album would break or worse yet, disappear? Would my holiday china all make it in one piece? I know these are all just “things, ” but they are my things. And the emotional attachment to my most cherished possessions is irreplaceable.

Do It Yourself Military Moving

We were lucky in that all of our moves were stateside. I was able to transport my most valuable possessions in my car. During every military move, my husband would just roll his eyes as I would stuff the car full of my scrapbooks and family photos, my kid’s baby teeth and wisps of hair from their first haircuts, and my video tapes!

I spent a decade in television news as a reporter/anchor. So I had boxes of video tapes of stories I had done around the globe. News reports of the first Gulf War, the fall of Russia, they told the story of my career. And there was no way I could trust any moving company to transport them safely.

Horror Stories

But for overseas military moves or even some cross country moves, it is not always possible to move your prized possessions yourself.

At PCSgrades, we hear heartbreaking stories of HHG shipments lost or damaged every day. True horror stories of items covered in black mold, bug infested or many times completely lost.

Mil-spouse Renee G. says, “I have photos of one of our moves that would make your head spin. The driver put my antique table leaves under the belly of the truck. And they tied our mattress to the back of the overflow truck!”

While there’s no way to avoid all mishaps when moving, PCSgrades seeks to make the process more bearable and efficient.  When military families submit reviews on the packers and movers they deal with during a military move, it strengthens the voice of the entire military community. It also provides a little more control which has never existed before in the PCS process.

The Importance of Reviews

Dealing with a favorably reviewed moving company can provide peace of mind that your belongings will be treated with respect. Likewise, it’s possible to avoid a particular company if the reviews show frequent or severe shortcomings. In some cases, you can actually request to NOT to work with a particular moving company (although still subject to DoD approval). If you read reviews about your moving company that indicate a history of damaged electronics, you might consider a partial DITY.

 “I had a Disney snow globe collection,” says Sherry M. “It was over 20 yrs old, and they broke ALL of them before they ever got them out of the house!” Suffice it to say, Sherry will never work with those movers again! Wouldn’t you like to know which company she worked with? Well, you can find out by reading reviews on PCSgrade.com!

Better than venting on Social Media

Many moving companies are very leery of online review forums. Legitimate reviews from verified military members in an open, third-party forum have a much bigger impact than anonymous/un-verified reviews…and certainly more so than venting in a closed group on Facebook.

The PCSgrades review process is meant to encourage and reward positive behavior among the companies and professionals we all do business with. Our interactive review process allows participating companies and PCSgrades members to start a conversation through our messaging system. This communication between military families and moving companies is unprecedented.

Your reviews are supplying Military and Veteran Support Organizations with unique and reputable data so they can wield even greater authority when advocating on behalf of military families everywhere.

Part of the Solution

PCSgrades seeks to be part of the solution. We feel strongly that moving companies should be held accountable just like all the professionals and vendors who impact the military moving process.  The claims process needs to be easier to navigate. Military families should not have to endure added stress and financial loss to serve America. Help us to help our fellow military and veteran families everywhere by leaving a review on your base housing unit, your local neighborhood, or your last moving company. We want to hear about your rock star realtor who found your dream home!

Your experiences, observations, and yes, even your horror stories help all of us as we move around the world. Go to PCSgrades.com and let your voice be heard!

Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News, Enterprise Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children. You can follow her on Twitter @olivowriter.

Carla Olivo

PCSgrades Director of Strategic Communications