Imagine traveling across the United States or even to a foreign country, only to find out your car has been lost in transit. Multitudes of military families are finding themselves “carless” as they arrive at their new duty stations.
The Daily Beast reported that thousands of military families move every year, and the Pentagon assists in the shipping of their cars to their new duty assignments. The Department of Defense has employed contractors since the mid-1990s to coordinate this task. This year the Pentagon changed contractors. With the transition occurring during the peak summer moving season, the move has led to lost cars, delays, problems with live tracking, and poor customer service.
Amanda dropped off her family car in San Diego for shipping to Alaska on May 13. They were supposed to receive it in early June, but as of mid-July it had yet to arrive. For the past month, her husband, an active-duty service member, has been forced to walk or bike miles to work every morning, in a town known as the “Rain Capital of Alaska.”
“I am worried I will never see it again,” Amanda told The Daily Beast. “I am really upset that the car is ‘lost’ but even more upset that I cannot get anyone to give me any information. I do not know if it will arrive next week, next month or next year, or ever.”
The worst part of the problem, many service members say, is it is an added hardship for the soldiers and their families as they go through a long-distance move. With the Pentagon concerned about fatigue and morale, a lost piece of valuable property is the last thing these families need.
“It just added a lot of extra stress to an already stressful situation,” said Belen, another military spouse, who asked for anonymity but was eager to talk about the problem. Her vehicle was delayed for three weeks, with no information about where it was or when it would show up. Her husband tried without success to reach a customer service representative for weeks.
Dozens of military family members from around the world have expressed their concerns on Facebook message boards and product review sites about the pandemonium involved with moving their cars cross-country or overseas.
According to the Daily Beast, the Pentagon insisted that “no service member vehicles have been lost,” although it acknowledged cases of late delivery. The United States Transportation Command, which oversees the shipping contract, said it had representatives at vehicle processing centers to monitor the situation and that its leadership was being briefed periodically on the problem.