TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A trip to the 60th Aerial Port Squadron’s Transportation Management Office at Travis Air Force Base might seem like one more stop on the checklist to a service member preparing to permanently change duty stations.
But the weight of what is being entrusted to the squadron’s Airmen – the movement of household goods around the globe – is not something they take lightly.
“It’s what makes your home (a) home,” said Senior Airman Megan Cardoza, 60th APS TMO specialist. “PCSing is hard (and it’s) stressful, so when I'm able to relieve some of that stress for the member, I think that's the best part (of the job). You want to make it as easy as possible for them.”
People are understandably passionate about their belongings, said Staff Sgt. Jason Bradley, 60th APS TMO personal property pack supervisor.
"Anytime you have your belongings being entrusted to someone else, you want to make sure that process goes through smoothly,” he said.
The office hopes for that process to go as smoothly as possible heading into the summer, which is its busiest time of year. The hectic season runs from May through August, with the peak time being June 15 to July 15.
"There's such a high requirement for this time of year,” Bradley said. "We want to make sure that we have ample time to ensure that they're getting what they need.”
Cardoza said the members of TMO function like liaisons, coordinating between members and agencies that facilitate the moving process, such as the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Moving service members start with customer intake at TMO’s front counter in Bldg. 381. Those about to PCS learn about their authorizations as well as weight entitlements, which scale upward by rank. A greater allotment also is given if a member has dependents.
Destination plays a factor, too. For members moving overseas, TMO tries to time the departure of their goods with their flight on the Patriot Express, aka “the rotator,” a collection of commercial airlines that provide flights for service members. Overseas assignments are booked through the Passenger Terminal office, which is in the same location as the household goods counter in Bldg. 381.
Because goods travel overseas by boat, Cardoza encourages members to come to TMO as early as possible once orders are in hand.
“You really have to be mindful of the timeframe because a lot of members will want it right away, so we have to say, ‘It will get there as soon as it can, but this is the timeframe window,’” she said.
Traveling to a new duty location falls under the purview of TMO. Cardoza said most members departing Travis and heading to another location stateside drive themselves, but flights, if necessary, are coordinated through the commercial contractor Crews Ventures Inc.
Moving pets also involves considering a variety of circumstances depending on the animal, the destination and even the breed. TMO can provide further information on a case by case basis, said Cardoza.
Once the forms are filled out, TMO members create the shipment in the government’s systems. Service members return later for a briefing and to sign the forms indicating when pickup and move are likely to occur. Cardoza stressed that the date on the form is subject to a particular moving company’s availability, something handled through JPPSO.
Additionally, members can also self-counsel through Move.mil. However, Cardoza says a phone call to TMO is still necessary.
“Even though they do that, we still have to officially submit everything for them,” she said.
TMO also hosts a monthly “Plan My Move” briefing at 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. The location alternates between odd-numbered months at the TMO office in Bldg. 381 and even-numbered months at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
Cardoza encourages members to come in as soon as possible once they have their orders.
“We have to have orders,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t start the process (without them). We can definitely offer information and what to expect with the move.”
For more information about TMO, call 707-424-4180 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Bldg. 381, first floor, wing C. For more information about Passenger Travel, call 707-424-3744.
Tips for a successful move
• Provide two date options when scheduling an appointment. Allow three weeks for firm dates.
• Personally Procured Moves, formerly known as do-it-yourself or “DITY” moves, allow service members 100 percent control of their goods. Miles are dictated per pound and not all expenses are reimbursed.
• Members and/or spouses should plan to be home on moving day.
• Inventory needs to be neat, legible and ensure all items are listed.
• Make sure the service member’s Government Travel Card is active and the current address is on file.
• Complete surveys to improve service.
• Customers now have the option to view the carrier score card.
• TMO will make all PCS arrangements for the rotator and commercial travel.
• Rotator booking is available up to three months in advance. Contact Passenger Travel as soon as possible after getting an assignment.
• Contact Passenger Travel for specifics about pets and commercial carrier restrictions.
• Members need to inform the carrier within 75 days of lost, damaged or stolen items.
• Claims are referred to the military claims office after notification.