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PCS-ing… and how can we make it easier?

December 22, 2009

Gah. Well, the good news is that our PCS is almost done 1) we have a house, 2) we have a cable/internet install date and 3) I was uber-smart and packed a bunch of necessary items for indoor camping. We also have a ship date for our household goods… only it isn’t until the New Year. The 4th to be precise… just shy of a week after our move-in date. Boo!

No, it isn’t the end of the world, but I just find it amazing that of all the things we as MilSpouses rally against, we seem to find this bogus week-or-more-without-our-stuff thing to be not only normal, but acceptable? Really?

Maybe this is the reason people do DITY moves (aside from the extra money)? Maybe this isn’t an issue when you choose to live off post? I don’t know. But it does seem ridiculous to me that if you are moving into on-post housing (or any housing for that matter!), you shouldn’t have to wait a week to get your stuff from the Transportation Office. How do you manage this with kids? How does this work if your family has special needs? How is this acceptable and how has no one complained & rallied about this before? Okay, I assume folks have in fact complained about this before, but why hasn’t someone tried to make a change here that would actually benefit families?

So, tell me your PCS stories… How long have you had to wait to get your household goods? What is the norm for your branch? How easy was the process for you and your family? How have you coped with being in housing without your stuff (with or sans kidlets) for extended periods of time? And what would you do to make this process easier? What are your solutions to make PCS-ing easier on families? What would you tell the Powers that Be if you could?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2009 11:17 am

    Two and a half months. Seriously.

    Coming home from Germany, they say it takes a month. We went on a month of leave. We arrived at the new duty station and our stuff wasn’t there, so we opened a file with them and gave them our new cell phone numbers. And went home and waited and waited and waited. I didn’t want to nag or be a jerk, so I just kept waiting for them to call.

    Finally we called. They said our stuff had arrived *the day after we’d been in and opened that file*, but that — get this — they didn’t have our phone number so they couldn’t reach us. And since the stuff sat so long, it automatically went into permanent storage. By the time we called, it was almost 4th of July, so they were booked up with summer moves and the holiday weekend and said it would be another two weeks before they could deliver.

    Oh, and did I mention that this was a six month PCS?? We only had six months in this apartment and we spent the first month and a half with only what we had in our suitcases coming home from Germany…

    Thank goodness it was just the two of us (no kids). But that was a loooong time of air mattress and folding chairs.

  2. December 30, 2009 11:33 pm

    I don’t think a week is so bad, honestly. Most posts have a lending closet so you can get essentials, and who doesn’t like camping sometimes? 🙂

    We did a government move from NC to TX, but our own circumstances put us in a tiny apartment where our stuff wouldn’t fit so our things stayed in storage for about 4 months. I made tables out of boxes, we slept on an air mattress, Sprout slept in a pack and play. We bought cheap dishes and cookware. It was depressing, but we survived. Once we got post housing, we waited a week for the delivery. I had never been so happy to sit on a couch!

    We did a DITY from Texas to here but ended up with most of our belongings in storage (again) for several weeks before we procured housing. We just packed carefully. It’s sort of like packing for an airplane trip–you pack the essentials in your carry-on and the stuff you want but isn’t imperative in your checked baggage in case it gets delayed. We carried all the stuff we absolutely needed in the personal vehicles, and packed everything else in the moving van. We did this with 3 kids and a cat and managed pretty well. I think everything in the Army life comes down to planning and resourcefulness. And willingness to nag. 🙂

    Seriously–about the nagging–that’s a huge lesson I’ve learned. I nag. Politely, with humor and respect, but I nag the crap out of all the shops that are handling our information. Finance, transportation, housing… phone calls, emails, stopping by, etc. Too much stuff gets lost and falls through the cracks if you don’t stay in front of their faces.

    Anyway, I think a 10 day window for getting HHG is not too big of a deal. There’s a LOT to coordinate–where your belongings are, which private contractors are available, where they have to go, etc etc. Anything more than that is pushing some limits and should be protested. I actually like the time in the house without our stuff to clean and plan, anyway. That way, when the movers come, I can direct them exactly where to put things.

    And I get to have a reunion with my long lost couch all over again.

  3. Gina permalink
    January 4, 2010 3:40 pm

    So, we just moved overseas. Our moving company went out and grabbed a couple of the ghetto’s finest to pack our stuff…..they showed up at 10 (when they were supposed to show up at 8), took HOURLY smoke breaks (20 mins each) and LEFT by 3 EVERY day. What was supposed to be pack one day, load the next became pack FOUR days, load for TWO!!! Oh, I was M-A-D!!!! Then we arrived in Germany and waited TWO stinkin’ months for our HHG. Our unaccompanied shipment,which was supposed to take less than 30 days, took over 6 weeks. At one point NO ONE knew where our stuff was….no kidding. On the boat? Off the boat? Floating in the ocean? Stolen by disappointed pirates? NO ONE KNEW!!! Let’s not get into all the stuff they broke!!! I complained and was brushed off. It’s a broken system that they aren’t willing to fix… incredibly frustrating!!

  4. Ashley permalink
    January 4, 2010 3:58 pm


    We moved from South Korea to Fort Bliss Texas in October, spent over $600 in plane tickets back to the US and then another $1200 in hotel bills for 17 days. Granted we had a puppy too so we spent another $225 in Plane tickets for him and an extra $5 a night per night in the hotel “pet room”. I was 5 1/2 mos pregnant at the time and was completely overwhelmed with it being our 1st PCS. After the first 14 days in our hotel we were told that the house they had promised us was not available… ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I went up to housing and demanded an explanation; I didn’t just come here and blow all of that money just to be broke and not have a home! They said it’d take a couple of days to get us a home and they’d get back to us… I had to go up to the housing office 3 times before they contacted me back on the 16th day of our hotel trip. We were upgraded to NCO housing (DH is not an NCO) and were given a home. Then we were forced to AER to apply for food fund as well as a gas fund! That’s another $500 we are paying out of pocket. We finally move into our home… and sleep on the floor for a week on a FULL SIZE blow up mattress… with borrowed sheets from the “swap shop” until we had the funds to go buy a couch from the PX. Our furniture from South Korea, whether it was HHG or UB didn’t come until November 5th… over 30+ days after we moved in… to this day January 4th, 2010 we are still paying AER loans and struggling to make a claim on a broken $2,000 laptop that was shipped…

    My PCS battles are still ongoing!

  5. January 7, 2010 5:33 pm

    Thanks everyone for sharing your tales of woe. Y’alls stories surely make mine seem puny by comparison. I can’t help but wonder what it is that causes these things to happen (I understand that OCONUS moves are entirely different beasts than CONUS moves) and what can be done to rectify it. It seems ridiculous that anyone would have to take out AER loans because of a PCS gone wrong.

    So here’s my challenge to you all… what would you do differently? How would you change the system if you could? What can the Army/Navy/AF/etc. change this process to make it better, easier, less stressful? Let the ideas rip ladies!

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