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Move yourself, make some money too!

Photo credit: Courtesy graphic, Jon Connor

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ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - With the permanent change of station season upon us, some people wonder if they should move themselves or let the government move them.

It all starts with service members and civilians receiving their orders. Once received, personnel should go online to the Defense Personal Property System or DPS, to upload your orders. There customers will find Military OneSource a great resource to plan a move. Then go to your Personal Property Office and discuss your options for moving. Military OneSource can be found at

Recent changes to policies and regulations have made it more favorable than ever to do a Personally Procured Move, or what was once called a DITY - Do It Yourself Move. PPMs can be so favorable that some personnel make a good profit from it.

A PPM is authorized for a PCS only, which includes separation from service or retirement.

DeShonda Davis-Locke, Rock Island Arsenal installation transportation officer, said another incentive change made in 2022 is soldiers who elect to do a PPM, receive an adjusted calculation to align the monetary incentive to what is paid to a transportation service provider (moving company).

"This change, on average, will incentivize a soldier up to 30% more than in previous years," Davis-Locke said. "Additionally, soldiers are reminded that included in the PPM incentive is a fuel surcharge that takes into consideration current market trends impacting fuel cost."

A PPM also reduces the risk of your household goods getting stolen or lost. Service members also have more control over when they can move, especially during the peak season of June-September.

"You don't have to wait on the availability of a moving company," explained Davis-Locke. "As the peak season picks up there will be a shortage of transportation service providers, and local agent availability. You may be subject to spread dates that the moving company is available versus the dates you would like your household goods picked up.

"You also can avoid your household goods going into temporary storage at destination," she said. "A PPM provides flexibility in pick-up and delivery dates based on your schedule. You are not competing with other customers for date availability."

Of course, everyone's situation is different and talking to local transportation office personnel can help soldiers and civilians decide if a PPM is the best way to go.

As it turns out, there are two types of PPMs to best suit one's move from one station to another. The two types of PPMs are Member-Elected PPM and Actual Cost PPM.

One big change made in 2021 was allowing military members to be reimbursed up to 100% of what the move would've costed the government; previously, it was 95%.

In the Member-Elected type of PPM, the most common method, the service member is reimbursed 100% of what a moving company would've been paid by government. Money spent over the amount is an out-of-pocket expense, while any amount spent less is money in the soldier's pocket.

Additionally, service members are eligible for an operating allowance to offset initial costs like a rental truck.

The Actual-Cost PPM method is ordered by a local transportation office when a government-sourced move is not possible in the required timeframe. The government reimburses the service member based on the actual costs, even if it is more than what DOD would've paid a contracted mover.

Additionally, a PPM is broken down into a partial PPM and a full PPM.

"Partial PPMs are processed the same as a full PPM with the same 100% incentive," Davis-Locke said. "If a soldier does not elect to move all of their entitled weight via a PPM, they can opt to move a smaller amount and the Army will ship the remainder of your household goods."

Courtney Abraham, director of the Army Personal Property Lead Element - or APPLE -and U.S. Army Sustainment Command's Joint Personal Property Shipping Offices-Mid-Atlantic, or JPPSO-MA, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, adds that partial PPMs are usually used for domestic moves and allow customers to have access to items that are immediately needed during their move and at their next location.

"Partial PPMs allow customers to have flexibility and needed household goods prior to their government shipment arrival and are used in a similar manner as OCONUS - Outside Continental United States - unaccompanied baggage shipments," Abraham explained. "Applications for a partial PPM can be accomplished as a separate shipment limited to the customers maximum government weight entitlement.

"Empty and full weight tickets are needed for partial PPMs," Abraham continued. "Partial PPMs can be small packages moved by mail or regular household good items moved by the customer using a privately owned vehicle, a rental truck or trailer. If a small package shipping service is used, weight receipts from the shipping company are required, and are limited to actual cost reimbursement."

There are moving and storage companies that will drop off a shipment container at a customer's residence, the customer will load the container, and the servicing company will return, pick up the loaded container, and transport it to the new location, Abraham said.

"It is important to ask for the weight ticket as some companies charge for utilization of space versus weight carried," said Abraham. "You will only be eligible for an actual cost reimbursement if weight tickets are not obtained. Storage-in-transit at origin or destination is available through some companies but must be approved through the customer's local transportation office and subject to actual cost reimbursement only."

Service members also receive service fees for items such as a fuel surcharge, bulky items including motorcycles, mopeds, canoes, personal watercraft, big screen TVs, tool sheds, hot tubs, and extra pick-up/delivery allowances, Abraham said.

Despite what PPM a service member or a civilian does, personnel must adhere to their authorized household goods weight, which varies by rank, and if there are dependents.

Also, the Army offers an app called "My Army PCS" and is designed to enhance users' PCS experience. It helps users prepare for their PCS before, during, and after their report date, Davis-Locke explained.

There are three sections of the app: "Get ready - Prepare for Your PCS"; "Set - Plan Your Move"; and "Go - Organize Your Move."

It also features knowledge-based information tools in the areas of entitlements, move types, resources, and claims.

Personnel can download the free "My Army PCS" app at the Apple Store and Google Play:

To help ensure a successful PPM, Davis-Locke offered these tips:

  • Contact your local transportation office prior to moving. Professional counselors will discuss the best options for moving your household goods - rental, privately owned vehicle - financial considerations, weight entitlement, requirements for weighing your household goods before and after your PPM, and documentation required to close out your PPM for payment.
  • Do your research; reach out to your transportation office to make an educated decision on if a PPM is right for you and your family. You can opt to hire a company to move your household goods. If you decide to hire a company, it is recommended to reach out to the Better Business Bureau and contacting your local Transportation Office and housing for their recommendations on local companies in the area that are military friendly, flexible, and offer discounts. The link to the BBB website is:
  • Contact your unit about a Government Travel Charge Card. The GTCC can be used for PCS expenses, including a PPM. Your unit can put you in a mission critical status giving you more time to settle your travel vouchers, without the worry of having a bill due during your PCS.

And Abraham offered this:

  • Soldiers, civilians, and their families must be wary of ‘fly-by-night companies' looking to profit from desperation moves with adjusting cost estimates, by using a commercial mover registered with the federal government at:
  • In addition to checking the BBB soldiers, civilians, and their families must understand their rights when obtaining commercial services as they differ from an assigned DOD moving company. More information is available at

A PPM can be a smart, and even a profitable alternative to letting the government handle the DOD's personnel moves. Preparation is key: be sure to do your homework to know which way will work best in your situation.

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