This Is the Pentagon’s Guidance for Virus-Related PCS Delays

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Movers at a housing area on Fort Benning, Georgia, load the household goods of an Army family.
Movers at a housing area on Fort Benning, Georgia, load the household goods of an Army family whose assignment at Fort Benning has reached its end. (Markeith Horace/U.S. Army)

Delays to household-goods shipments for those moving are a matter of when, not if, according to a pair of guideline memos sent to military move officials and contractors in the wake of global pandemic worries.

As of Wednesday morning, only moves by Army personnel to and from Italy and South Korea have been officially put on hold until early May due to concerns about the novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19. The other military services are considering a similar stop movement order.

The memos, issued March 9 by U.S Transportation Command, govern the changes for delayed soldiers and their families, but are expected to be extended as-is to the other services, should the need arise.

The impacts of the virus on PCS moves could stretch much further, officials have warned. For example, contracted movers could face manpower shortages if staff are out sick, sparking pack-out and shipment delays. And some military members have reported delivery delays thanks to container shortages sparked by port closures and household goods in holding, waiting for staff to return to work to process them.

The memos lay out for Pentagon and industry move officials exactly how household goods and moves are to be processed in the wake of virus-fueled delays.

If you're sitting on orders to move to Italy or South Korea in the next 60 days, here's what you can expect.

1. Your household goods pack-out may not be done. If a transportation provider hasn't already been assigned to come pack out and pick up your stuff, they won't be until the stop-order is lifted, the memo states. And if your move has already been assigned, the pickup and pack-out are going to be delayed, it says.

2. If you're about to be homeless, you might get a pack-out exception. According to the memo, "Customers requiring shipments to be picked [up] due to termination of rental lease agreement, home sale or termination of government/privatized housing" can still get their pack-out and move done. But those household goods won't be going far, it adds. Instead, they'll simply be placed into storage for shipment later.

3. If your vehicle shipment is delayed, you can probably get your car back if you've already turned it in. Unless your vehicle is already on a ship on its way, the memo says impacted troops can likely get their cars back, even if they've been turned in but not actually shipped or already placed in long-term storage. Service members with questions should contact their vehicle processing center.

4. The memo does not offer benefits for those in between housing or whose car is already gone. Not offered in the memo is any assistance for military members or families who have sold their home or ended their lease and now sit in limbo waiting to move. That means those families could face paying out-of-pocket for extended temporary housing or a rental car while waiting to leave or come back stateside. Impacted families can call their local transportation office for help or details.

Service members with questions or those looking for exceptions to policy should contact their chain of command for more information, the memo states.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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