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Newsletter Article Fall 2016

Beyond Basic Training:  Moving with the Military Session Highlights

By:  Linda Rothleder SCRP, SGMS

Recently, I was privileged to present this session to the Southeastern Regional Relocation Council (SRRC) at their Spring Conference in Tampa, Florida. My topics were: to present the uniformed military moving processes, a little about the Federal government relocation programs and how these programs compare to/differ from corporate programs. The bottom line: government policies are very egalitarian and governed by law; whereas, in the corporate world, relocation policies can change at the business unit level depending on their current workforce talent management needs.

To understand the current military moving processes, one needs to understand a little about the evolution of the modern military. Military families used to live on-base and most spouses stayed home and supported the service member’s career. Everything began to change in the 1960s and 1970s as more military began to marry, women entered the workforce in large numbers and on-base housing fell into disrepair. Today, about one-third of the active duty force lives on base and two-thirds live in the local community. Of the 1.3 million active duty, about 50 percent of enlisted personnel are married and almost 70 percent of officers are married.

As the demographics of the military changed, over the past 40 years programs were enacted by Congress to support military mobility.  For base housing, the military looked to the private sector to form partnerships for the Housing Privatization Initiatives (HPI) on bases to build new, modern housing for service members.  About 75 percent of the military housing inventory today is privatized.  For local community housing, the Automated Housing Referral Network (AHRN) was created.  This automated system first became available in the early 2000s.  Its purpose was to assist with finding suitable and affordable community housing.  Communities impacted by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) programs have a Homeowner’s Assistance Program (HAP) available to individuals selling their homes in a depressed real estate market. 

During the late 1990s and early 2000s Household Goods shipment and storage was addressed based on numerous complaints from Service members and families.  Congress passed four pieces of legislation which eventually coalesced into the Defense Personal Property Program (DP3).  The DP3 program included a new tariff, automated shipment distribution, automated auditing and payment system and full replacement value protection for loss and damage to property, among other benefits.


By the mid-1980s, just a year or so after the Federal civilian relocation program legislation was passed, military relocation legislation was enacted.  The Federal employee relocation legislation created a program that provided agencies with the ability to contract for relocation management services with the private sector.  The military Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) legislation provided to all uniformed families from every installation in the world:  automated information systems, training, sponsorship and housing referral services.

In 1986, Congress and The Department of Defense (DoD) looked at providing a relocation program similar to the newly enacted Federal civilian agency programs with guaranteed home sale benefits, and decided against it, not only on cost grounds, but also on cultural grounds.  The military felt, and still feels, that they take care of their own which in the case of moving means a jig saw puzzle of stove piped programs managed by the service or family member.   

The Relocation Program objectives are to educate members, provide the right moving information at the right time, to help family and service members manage the move through referrals to other DoD resources, and help manage the financial and emotional impacts of moving. The military realizes that moving is a bedrock stressor that impacts all family members during the move.  It acknowledges that moving and deployments are the most disruptive influences in a family’s life and directly impact retention and mission readiness.  To that end, through the late 1980s to today, the DoD created a variety of automated programs to assist military families.  These programs include:  MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, Plan My Move, eSPONSORSHIP Application and Training, Military Teens on the Move, Military Youth on the Move, and the services of Military OneSource.  The Services also maintain Family Centers on installations worldwide where members and their families receive personal face-to-face moving assistance.

The uniformed services rotate about 650,000 service members a year out of a workforce of 1.3M active duty and 800,000 reservists at a cost of about $4B.  The $4B is spent on the shipment and storage of household goods, travel allowances, and benefits when making a permanent change of station move on official orders from one installation to another worldwide.  The Federal civilian agencies with a workforce of 2.1M employed by hundreds of Federal agencies move a very small percentage of their workforce every year.  For employees that are eligible for home sale compensation, the government spends about $93M annually under the relocation management services contracts for real estate assistance.  Another $135M is spent annually for the shipment and storage of household goods by Federal employees who move.

In summary, military members move every 2-3 years and have a lot of information available to help them move, but they have to know where and how to access it.  Federal civilian agencies provide a richer program for their transferees and one that is often supported by a relocation management company.  The private sector programs vary widely, but almost always are more designed to support the pressing talent management goals of their company. 

Author’s Notes:

1.   The detailed slides that accompanied this presentation can be found on the SRRC website. Please click here.
2.  The referenced websites in this article can all be found online.
3.   All of the details on uniformed and civilian DoD allowable moving reimbursements can be found in the Joint     Travel Regulation (JTR), Appendix G, while the Federal civilian agency allowances and benefits can be found in the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), Chapter 302.

Southeastern Regional Relocation Council (SRRC) 

PMB 335

501 N. Orlando Ave., Ste#313

Winter Park, FL 32789

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