MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
With the large number of military and civil service members transferring, retiring and separating every year, “do-it-yourself” moves are becoming increasingly popular.
Once service members have elected to do a Personally Procured Move, formally known as the DITY move, they either rent a moving vehicle or use their personally owned vehicle, then weigh it empty, pack up their belongings. Once the move is completed, service members are required to submit their claim forms to their local Traffic Management Office or to the Transportation Voucher Certification Division in Albany, Ga., and are later reimbursed for the moving expenses.
“One of the most common mistakes made by members executing this type of move is the failure to obtain an empty and full weight of their vehicle used for the movement of their personal effects,” said Mike Gorman, the operations officer with TMO, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “Without these weight tickets, they are unable to be reimbursed to the full extent of their eligible incentive.”
Occasionally, however, some service members try to cheat the system to pocket more money.
“The moves are based on the members rank, distance to their destination and the actual weight of their shipment,” said Gorman. “Unfortunately, we encounter cases where the members try to illegally increase their moving weight by using construction material, all in hopes of making more money.”
The maximum weight service members can haul depends on their rank and if they have dependants. Les Boone, the claims processor for TMO, MCB Camp Lejeune, recalled one service member who tried to reach the maximum weight by using concrete.
“There was a master sergeant who rented a U-Haul truck, bought 1,700 pounds worth of cement bags and loaded them into the truck to gain more weight,” said Boone. “When he returned the cement bags to the home improvement retailer, the store notified TMO of what they suspected was going on. TMO investigated the issue when the master sergeant tried to turn in his weight tickets and claim package. He was not a happy camper when higher authorities were finished with him.”
Some of the consequences that military and civil service members can potentially face for fraudulent actions are lost privileges for PPM/DITY moves and criminal charges through the Uniform Code of Military Justice and federal court systems. Everyone is affected by this, from the junior enlisted Marine to the senior-ranking officer.
Gorman said one of the most effective ways to avoid TMO fraud is to stay informed. Although service members may not intentionally commit fraud by substituting construction materials for packed goods, being misinformed or relying on incorrect secondhand information are not excuses for following improper procedures.
“A lot of the younger, inexperienced service members are easily influenced by what we call ‘sea lawyer network,’” said Gorman. “One Marine tells another Marine, ‘hey try this,’ and so Marines receive incorrect information and end up making a dishonest decision.”
Gorman said TMO personnel are taking proactive measures to mitigate actions of service members trying to commit fraud. They have inspectors who conduct random inspections of service members’ moving vehicles, and have strong ties with home improvement retailers in the area who inform TMO personnel of suspicious activities.
Gorman also said TMO personnel are always on hand to answer any questions, and explain procedures and entitlements, ultimately trying to make the moving process as smooth as possible. Gorman stressed a little extra cash does not compensate for the negative consequences Marines can later face in their career and in life.
“It’s not worth it,” said Gorman. “This program is set in place to help the service member. If they have questions or are unsure about something, they can always come by TMO and we’ll assist them. It’s just not worth getting into trouble and having it affect you for the rest of your life.”
For more information on PPM/DITY moves, visit the TMO office, call 451-2501, or visit www.move.mil.