Friday, June 15, 2012

The PCS Files: Holy Crap, It's Happening!

In order to give my husband a few more days to visit his family before we leave for Japan at the end of the July, I decided to try and call our moving companies and get our pack-up/pick-up dates moved ahead a couple of days. This is no easy task - especially in June. Apparently, everyone in the military moves in June and July. And if you want those dates changed, you have to call 5,000 different people to make it happen.

If you're moving overseas like we are, you'll have two different shipments: Household Goods (HHG) and Unaccompanied Baggage (UA, also referred to as your "express shipment"). You will have two different companies handling each shipment. And, for each shipment, you'll have a provider and a local agent. The provider is who initially takes the assignment or job from your military transportation office. That provider is in charge of actually getting your shipment to it's overseas location. But since the provider is usually a large, nation-wide chain, they will then assign a "local agent" to your shipment. The local agent is the local moving company who will actually be coming to your house to pack up everything and deliver it to the larger moving/shipping chain. Does all of that make sense? It took me a while to get it all straight.

So, if you want your move dates changed, you have to call your local agent to see if they are even available on the new date you'd like. If they are, you then have to call the provider to actually get the date changed in their system, and it will then trickle down to the local agent's system. You also have to schedule both shipments so that they are not being done at the same time. The moving companies will not come to the house when another company is there doing a separate shipment. Never try to call your military transportation office first if you've already been assigned a provider and agent. My husband tried that and they said it was impossible to change dates because everything is booked up. But, if you call the actual provider and agent, you can usually get something worked out since they are actually the ones who will be handling your shipment (your military transportation office just initially sets it all up).

After calling 4 different companies and talking to multiple people at each one, I finally got our dates changed so that we could get out of our rental home by the end of the month (allowing my husband to have 4 extra days with his family). But... then it hit me today....


In two days, our express shipment will be packed up and hauled off to start it's journey to Japan. Initially, our express shipment was going to be picked up the day after our HHG shipment was taken away, but the 18th was the only date they still had available if I wanted it moved up a few days. So this weekend I'll be doing laundry and pulling things from around the house that a) we can do without for 10 days until we move out, and b) that will be essential to us if we get to Japan and don't have our big shipment come in right away. I've been thinking about this and getting ready for it for months... and it's here. Only 10 days after the express shipment is done, I'll be watching movers pack up the rest of my house and send it to Japan. I've got to pack our luggage and carry-ons even though we're visiting family for a while, my husband will be working up to the day we are packed, and the actual days of the pack-up and pick-up, he'll be leaving me at home with the kids while he goes to a graduation practice AND graduation ceremony.

Will it be stressful? Yes. Will my kids watch way too much tv at the neighbor's house? Probably. But will I still be excited that we're moving to Japan? DEFINITELY!

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