30,000 military families expected to relocate despite stop movement order

About 30,000 military families will be able to move to their next duty station over the next two months even though the Defense Department is barring most travel by service members through June 30.

The relocating families are approved exemptions from the military’s stop movement order, which started prohibiting moves in mid-March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Rick Marsh, director of DoD’s personal property program, told reporters Wednesday that unless there is a change in the current situation, those families will be able to proceed to their next home.

“The 30,000 families are what we have in the system now that have been approved,” Marsh said. “The services and personnel communities are working to identify their projections for the rest of the year and the demand will be significant. I absolutely anticipate moves going well into the fall and winter. We won’t have the notion of the typical peak season as we know it historically.”

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The 30,000 are in different stages of processing.

“Some are in the queue, some are being counseled, some have been awarded to a transportation service provider, some have had the pre-move survey done,” Marsh said.

DoD has already conducted about 12,500 household goods shipments for moves since the stop order went into place to accommodate families exempted from the policy.

The Pentagon announced two major exemptions to travel late last month. Those exemptions were for newly recruited troops to report to duty and for overseas deployments and redeployments.

“In partnership with host nations, the services and combatant commands will make decisions based on the circumstances of each deployment and the status of COVID-19’s spread,” Defense officials wrote in the policy. “The intent is for the department to continue to move forces as required to meet operational needs and our alliance commitments.”

As far as staying safe during the moves, DoD is requiring service providers to screen their personnel for symptoms before they are sent on a job.

“What we’ve directed industry to do is present a form that says ‘I certify that these folks have been screened to the best of my ability,’” Marsh said. “That is left with the family so the family is not responsible for asking those questions or for driving enforcement.”

Families will also receive an email describing the protocol and what to do if there is a challenge with a carrier.

Marsh said families should contact U.S. Transportation Command and their chain of command if they have any issues with companies.