PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. — U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey officials have done well so far, but they are keeping a close eye on household goods shipments to minimize any delays due to private-sector moving company shortages during the military’s peak moving season.
Col. Varman Chhoeung, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, rode along July 16 with Glenn Beal, a quality assurance inspector with the installation's transportation office, to meet with service members as movers packed their goods.
“I just want to make sure that our families are getting good service with respect to their household goods and they have a smooth transition in and out of the Presidio of Monterey,” Chhoeung said.
Chhoeung and Beal met with Air Force Lt. Col. Jen Whetstone, who is moving to Japan with her family, as movers packed her goods at her home in Pebble Beach.
Whetstone said, “I was a little concerned a couple of months ago when I started hearing about the problems [Department of Defense]-wide with working movers and the lack of moving companies available in the country, but the Presidio of MontereyTransportation Office has been very helpful and everything seems to be going fine.”
Chhoeung said Presidio of Monterey is doing well compared to some other installations, but as the military’s peak permanent-change-of-station season continues, he and other garrison officials will monitor the situation.
At an installation Community Update meeting July 19, Chhoeung and other garrison officials provided information about the subject, what they have done to mitigate problems, and how service members can help alleviate issues.
Brian Clark, director of the Presidio of Monterey Logistics Readiness Center, briefed the community on how to avoid delays with household goods shipments.
The summer is always peak PCS season with the military, and this year it is even busier because some service members delayed their moves due to COVID-19 last year, Clark said.
The local wait for an available moving company is about three or four weeks, Clark said, so it is important for service members to try to receive their orders as quickly as possible so they start the process of securing a moving company.
It is important for service members to know that the Army has released an order providing Soldiers with flexibility in terms of start dates at new units, Clark said.
“When you get your orders, you can actually move between 30 days before your report date to 20 days after,” Clark said. “So that’s a 50-day window that you have to kind of work on that transportation piece to try to find a moving company that’s available.”
It’s important to note, however, that the Army’s flexibility does not apply to schools such as the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and the Naval Post Graduate School, Chhoeung said. Their report dates remain firm.
Also, Clark said he was not aware of other military services that had taken similar measures.
For those who cannot find a moving company that fits their requirements or are reporting to another military service that does not offer the flexibility of the Army, service members can appoint a releasing agent who acts on the service member’s behalf in terms of household goods, Clark said.
“Essentially you would PCS, you would go to your next assignment, and that person would take care of the move for you at your place, whether that’s a parent, a friend,” Clark said. “Whoever it is, you can assign them to do that for you, but you would only want to do that if you absolutely trust that person. They’re going to have access to all your stuff.”
Another option is a personally procured move or a do-it-yourself move, Clark said.
“If a moving company was not available to move you, you’re going to be reimbursed whatever the actual cost of that move or whatever it takes for you to move yourself,” Clark said. “But you have to be careful with that, because if a moving company was available, you’re going to wind up getting paid whatever it cost the government to move you, which is likely less than what it cost you to move yourself.”
Ultimately, however, LRC officials are experts on PCS moves, and service members should contact them for advice on how to make the best decisions, Clark said. People can call the office at (831) 242-6803; (831) 242-6757 or (831) 242-7113, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chhoeung said when it comes to inbound household goods, people at Presidio of Monterey are receiving them in about one to two weeks, which is a normal amount of time.
In terms of outbound household goods, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Londers, the garrison’s command sergeant major who is retiring, was able to make an appointment the previous week for the middle of August, Chhoeung said.
Chhoeung said one way the installation has curbed delays getting service members into homes is by preleasing homes.
“It was a policy change, and the goal of preleasing was to allow people to have an address and move-in date before they left their last duty station,” Chhoeung said.
In general, military installations issue housing according to rank, with service members of similar rank living near one another, and Chhoeung said another action officials took was to adjust the housing rank bands to ensure they had the right number of houses for various ranks across the entire community.
In addition, Chhoeung asked the housing team to shoot for fewer than 10 days in temporary lodging for most people.
“For about 90 or 95 percent of our people, I think we’ve been able to do that,” Chhoeung said. “We moved a record number of people into our houses in June with 217 families moving in. We are near an all-time high in occupancy rate.”
The current occupancy rate is nearly 95%, Chhoeung said, and to put it in perspective, last year the rate was about 81%.
Installation officials and work crews have also decreased the number of days it takes to make a housing unit ready for occupancy, Chhoeung said.
“A year ago, we were taking about 61 days to turn a home,” Chhoeung said. “Right now we are down to 9.1 to 9.5 days to turn a home, depending on the day.”
Also, Chhoeung said it is important that service members know that no one can make them prelease a home or conduct a PPM or DITY move.
Oscar Ordonez, director of housing, said he encourages anyone who has a problem concerning housing to contact their community manager or call the housing office at (831) 242-7979.
“If you have a concern or you have an issue that’s not being answered, call us,” Ordonez said. “Someone will get you pointed in the right direction.”
Chhoeung said when it comes to housing issues, residents should submit a work order first, but if issues persist, they can contact housing or submit an Interactive Customer Evaluation form.
“We are always looking for ways to make things better for everybody in the community,” Chhoeung said.