A mover packs household goods at Fort Meade, Md. About 2,600 airmen will move to their next assignments over the next 90 days. (Staff Sgt. Desiree Palacios/Air Force)
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The resolution of the government’s shutdown stalemate will allow the Air Force to resume moving about 2,600 airmen to their new assignments.
Those airmen, who have move dates within the next 90 days but had not received their permanent change-of-station orders by Oct. 1, had their moves put on hold when the government shut down. On Oct. 17, Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Mike Dickerson said those PCS orders should be authenticated within 10 business days, or by the end of the month.
“Orders with the most pressing execution dates are being completed first, ensuring our military personnel and families are able to complete PCS activities in the most expeditious manner available,” Dickerson said.
Airmen whose PCS orders were in hand before Oct. 1 did not have their moves delayed by the shutdown.
Dickerson said about 126 airmen, who had projected departure dates in October but who did not have PCS orders before the shutdown, have had their report-later-than dates and projected departure dates adjusted. The Air Force is also notifying airmen who are being reassigned, but who may need additional processing time, that they can request a delay.
“We will continue to do everything possible to minimize hardship to our airmen and their families as a result of the shutdown and its effects on PCS actions,” Dickerson said.
The 16-day shutdown left many airmen with upcoming moves uncertain as to what would come. One Air Force couple, in the midst of a PCS when the shutdown began, said the shutdown could have lengthened their separation.
B-52 radar navigator Capt. Brenna Dicks and her husband, intelligence officer Capt. Larry Dicks, were told a few months ago that they were going to move from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Brenna’s official PCS orders came through about a month ago, before fiscal 2013 funds ran out and the government shut down.
In an Oct. 14 phone interview, Brenna said Larry’s orders had not come through yet. Brenna’s final day at Minot is scheduled for Nov. 8, and Larry’s move was planned for Dec. 2. Had the shutdown continued, Brenna said, they feared Larry could have been “stuck for another Minot winter, perhaps.”
It now appears unlikely that Larry’s PCS will be delayed.
Brenna said she feels fortunate that her orders came through when they did because the Dickses had already begun to sell their home. If both their orders had been put on hold, she said, the military wouldn’t pick up their household goods and they couldn’t close on the sale of their home Oct. 15.
“If I hadn’t gotten my orders, we would be in a pickle,” Brenna said, as the Dickses packed up their home.
The shutdown also caused hardships for some troops who already had orders and were in the process of moving. Some service members weren’t able to get advance payments to do Personally Procured Moves — formerly known as do-it-yourself or DITY moves — so the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provided them loans earlier this month.
Case workers from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society also helped troops with other advance pays for PCS moves, such as housing allowances. And Army Emergency Relief provided loans to soldiers who could not get advance travel pay for their PCS moves.
The American Moving and Storage Association said industry saw a drop in bookings of moves the first week of the shutdown, when civilian workers were furloughed from their jobs at transportation offices. The loss of furloughed civilians also meant no one was there to authorize services while moves took place. Scott Michael, VP of military and government affairs for the association, said he hopes workers can catch up.■
Karen Jowers contributed to this story.