Story by MSgt Amaani Lyle on 02/21/2019It's no secret that moving can be one of life's greatest stressors.
As such, an Air Force District of Washington unit headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, uses innovative analysis, diligent compliance, and reliable practices to ensure smooth movement of household goods for Defense Department service members, civilians, affiliated employees, and their families.
With a small, but efficient staff, the Personal Property Activity headquarters oversees more than 340 military members and civilians, who orchestrate moves globally, whether just off base or to far-reaching locales such as Australia, Africa, and the Middle East.
"There are a lot of different pieces that go into moving personnel and their property all over the world," said Chief Master Sgt. Antoinette Buntin, chief enlisted manager, PPA headquarters. "We move everyone; we go everywhere, and there are many people including transportation, administration, and communication specialists -- in the background making this happen every day."
PPA headquarters is the Air Force's single service manager and governing authority over joint personal property shipping and traffic management offices in the continental United States. The team integrates operations and ensures combat readiness by successfully moving more than 280,000 personal property shipments yearly in conjunction with 1,300 transportation service providers.
Joint Personal Property Shipping Offices support various geographic regions. In addition to offices in San Antonio, they are also based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. In addition, AFDW members are assigned to two Army-managed JPPSOs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
JPPSO's oversight responsibilities include shipment management, booking and placing invoices; and handling member household good shipments and personal travel expenses.
The complexity of the mission calls for PPA to constantly analyze and measure success to ensure DoD and Air Force regulatory compliance, said Rodney Phillips, PPA headquarters operations chief.
"We research data for about 71 bases, which leads us to training opportunities and helps us identify changes to regulations and instructions our people are following to administer the PPA program," Phillips said.
Phillips said PPA headquarters personnel also conduct staff assistance visits to gauge requirements and performance in the field, and act as liaisons to overseas units.
"It's important we establish relationships with not only the leadership, but the people who are doing the job," Phillips said. "That way they can reach out to us, hopefully before they have problems but if they do we have the ability to help them based on their needs."
For a permanent-change-of-station, local move, or in some cases even sending a son or daughter off to college, military members have options to get connected to a transportation service provider. The member can go in-person to a traffic management office for guided assistance or visit the online transportation system to complete the move request forms on their own.
Stateside moves can take up to 7-10 days, while overseas moves could hit the 30-60 day range, depending on the destination or shipment size, Buntin said.
With stewardship in mind, PPA HQ also manages the Air Force's Excess Cost and Adjudication Function, which reviews, processes and adjudicates personal property excess cost cases.
"Members should prepare for the move by discarding items that they don't need," she said. "Since military families move every two-and-a-half years, this means that if you haven't used an item in your current house, you are probably not going to need it in your next house and this can keep excess costs under control."
Buntin said the best advice is that all members should secure valuables such as money, jewelry, family heirlooms, and passports prior to movers arriving at their home.
She also urged attention "to those brown cardboard boxes of stuff from the past four duty stations that you never unpacked -- let 'em go." Unless you're changing climates, in which case, keep the winter coats, she added.
For more information about ensuring a smooth move and preventing excess weight charges, www.move.mil.