WASHINGTON -- Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón "CZ" Colón-López and U.S. Transportation Command's senior enlisted leader, Air Force (SEAC) Chief Master Sgt. Jason France, shed some light on moving in the time of COVID-19 during a virtual town hall meeting.
The SEAC hosted the meeting with France today, as the two enlisted leaders answered service members' questions.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper froze movements soon after the pandemic hit U.S. shores. This stopped most military and civilian moves. Those deemed crucial required an exception to policy.
Each year, the Defense Department relocates more than 400,000 service members, DOD civilians and their families. Traditionally, this would be the beginning of the prime move season. COVID-19 has changed that, and it will change again once the restrictions are lifted.
Service members asked when the order will lift. The current stop-movement order runs through June 30.
"Every 15 days, we're conducting a review to make sure that the implementation of practices makes sense," Colón-López said. "And we're taking a common-sense approach to everything that we're doing with regards to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Whether it's going to be extended or stopped, it is yet to be determined."
Transcom has the responsibility for the moves, and France detailed some of the actions going on in anticipation of the go-ahead.
He said Transcom officials are meeting with the services, the Joint Staff and industry groups to ensure proper communications. The command has also set parameters for moving in a COVID-19 environment.
Essentially, Transcom mandates that the moving industry must adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols regarding health protection while working in service members' homes. "Those measures include face coverings, minimizing crew size to enable social distancing, the fact that crews must practice good hygiene, and they also must routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in our service members' homes," France said.
This applies whether the move is from an on-base or off-base home, he said. The moving companies are also required to provide illness screening verification to service members.
The priority list for those moving was also a question to the SEAC and France, as each service grants exceptions to policy a bit differently. Involvement of the chain of command is crucial to the process, and France and Colón-López urged those affected to work through their leaders on the process.
Moving pets was another concern for service members. France said there were no real changes with the policy. But space for pets is at a premium, he said, and he recommended getting a reservation early in the process.