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DITY or Don't

Heidi Evans
tagged: pcs
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Expert advice on what kind of PCS move is best for you.

As a military spouse, you probably bear the brunt of a PCS move. Beforehand your service member, like a hopeful gold digger of old, told you tales of all the money you could make (maybe thousands of dollars!) if you moved yourselves. But you’ve heard the do-it-yourself rumors, too—those horrific stories of families who, like the pioneers, came to the end of the road busted, broke and bedraggled.

So is a DITY (now called a Personally Procured Move, or PPM) worth the hassle? It depends.

On these pages, you’ll find the scoop on what has changed in recent years. And you’ll hear DITY stories from milspouses who’ve done it.

Here’s the biggest news: Reimbursement rates decreased in April 2010, when the services changed to the Defense Personal Property System. The new system made moving companies bid against each other and that competition lowered prices for the military. That change was a cost-saver for the government, but it generally decreased the reimbursement for military families. We now receive about 95 percent of the amount the military would pay a moving carrier for the same work.


How does it work?

The first step for any do-it-yourself move within the military is getting official counseling and creating a Form 2278, which estimates what the service member will be paid for the move. The amount paid is based on a weight the service member provides. You’re paid 60 percent of this estimate in advance to cover your expenses. But be careful: If you over-estimate your weight, the government will take every extra dollar back.

If you are considering a PPM, it’s critical to estimate your weight correctly. One strategy if you’ve moved before: Ask a counselor at the personal property office to look up the weight from your last move.

“In the new Defense Personal Property system, the calculations are complicated. We suggest that the member work with their supporting personal property office so they can feel confident that the estimate is accurate,” says Frank Piacine, the Navy's household goods director.

“Understand the amount of labor and effort required,” he says. “If a service member chooses to do a PPM, they still have to report to their next duty station as scheduled.”

Sound kind of grim? Don’t give up yet: On the bright side, the new system has greater flexibility to use services like shipping containers. Service members can contract for any of the services involved in a move, including loading, driving and unloading.

“Key here is allowed cost,” Piacine tells Military Spouse. “A PPM is not an open checkbook and members are still limited to not more than 100 percent of what the government would pay for a similar move.” 


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