BAUMHOLDER, Germany –
Permanent change of duty station moves can be stressful, but the Army Garrisons and Logistics Readiness Centers across Europe have professional and helpful customer support representatives available and always willing to assist Soldiers and families with their needs.
Dorothee Frick is one of those people. She’s the lead quality control inspector with LRC Rheinland-Pfalz’ Baumholder transportation office. With over 32 years in the transportation business as a quality control and quality assistance inspector working for the Army she knows her stuff.
“It’s nice to work with the U.S. Soldiers and their families,” said Frick.
As an inspector and senior customs border clearance agent with LRC Rheinland-Pfalz, 405th Army Field Support Brigade, Frick said she works with Soldiers and their families as well as the shipping companies, agents and packers who come to the Soldiers’ homes.
“Sometimes it’s hard. It can be a real challenge. You want to make everyone happy – the packers and the service members and their families,” said Frick, who was born in Baumholder and has lived here her entire life.
Initially in 1979 at the age of 18, Frick took her first job at the post exchange on the Baumholder installation, supporting Soldiers and families in that capacity, but in 1989 she was hired to work at the transportation office and she’s been there ever since.
With that much experience, she has a lot of great advice and tips for Soldiers and their families.
When it comes to household goods and unaccompanied baggage pickup, Frick said the Soldier or designated representative must be in the home from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day the moving company is scheduled to be there.
“We don’t know exactly when the packers are going to be there,” Frick said. “They send schedules, but things change and sometimes they are not able to follow those schedules. Sometimes we have to call the Soldiers and tell them to please go to their apartments or homes – the moving companies are there waiting. This is valuable time lost and doesn’t help the process.”
It would also be nice if the Soldiers and families would be organized and ready on the day the moving company is scheduled to arrive, Frick said.
“They don’t have to pack their own stuff, but they need to know what they want to ship in their household goods and their unaccompanied baggage, and what they will carry with them on the plane,” Frick said. “A lot of times the packers arrive and the Soldier and family are not ready. That makes it harder for everyone.”
If the various shipments aren’t separated, marked well or clearly defined for the packers, sometimes they will accidently pack things the Soldier and family don’t want packed, she said.
“For example if their passports get packed, we have to go back to the moving companies and open up the shipment – all the crates and boxes – to find the passports and take them out,” said Frick.
“They don’t have to necessarily separate everything into piles and move everything around, but they should help to make it simple,” she said. “Some people put stickers on what they want packed. That helps a lot to show this is going, this is not. This helps the packers to be more efficient and makes the entire process better for everyone.”
With the current summer surge and issues finding adequate support in the U.S. to assist Soldiers and their families with moving their household goods to Europe and other locations, it’s unclear how much longer Soldiers and families will experience any sort of difficulties with receiving their HHGs here.
Nicole Vatcher, a transportation specialist with LRC Wiesbaden, 405th AFSB said it’s important that Soldiers and families are well prepared and they expect in advance the possibility of delayed or late delivery times.
“It’s more difficult these days because at the moment we only have five or six companies that work for us – agents, not carriers,” said Frick. “And the agents work with sub contactors. They come from all over the world, and sometimes there are language limitations. Some of them don’t speak English or German. It’s not a big deal but it can make things more difficult. They have to communicate with the Soldiers and their families, just like us.”
Just do your homework and be as prepared as possible, said Frick.
Take advantage of the installation’s transportation office, Army Community Service’s lending closet and the installation’s loaner furniture program, said Vatcher. All of these services are available for incoming Soldiers and their families at the Garrisons in Europe.
Some simple steps to take to help be better prepared:
• Visit the installation transportation office as soon as orders are received. Don’t wait.
• Whether this is a first move or 15th, take advantage of counseling. The local transportation office is the best resource of information specific to that location.
• If movers cannot be arranged to support the PCS, talk with Soldier’s chain of command immediately to explore options – which may include changes to reporting timelines.
• Be patient with the transportation office personnel. They want to solve problems for you.
• Contact the local transportation office if moving plans change or when questions or concerns arise during the PCS process.