On Tuesday, April 14th, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that the stop movement order for the military would be extended. At the time, no date was given but today the details of the extension were announced.
The new stop movement order mandates that all troop movement, which includes deployments, PCS’s, TDYs, and TADs, are effectively frozen until DATE. The previous stop movement order held troop movement and OCONUS PCS’s through May 24th while CONUS PCS’s were held through May 11th.
Speculation of the extension of the stop movement order was made a few weeks ago when the Chief of Staff of the Air Force made a statement that the stop order could be extended through August. This statement sent shockwaves through the military community as families began to worry about deployments and upcoming summer moves. The original stop movement orders were first given on March 13th and since then many families have been left without their household goods and no place to live as for months, as they had already shipped their HHG’s and gave up housing arrangements in preparation for their move.
Now the extension of the stop movement order is official. You can see the official memo from the Secretary of Defense below.
HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CURRENT STOP ORDER EXTENSION TO 30 JUNE
- Government funded travel for all DoD civilian personnel, service members and dependents for OCONUS and CONUS travel is stopped. This applies to all official travel, TDY travel, government funded leave travel, permanent duty travel to include PCS. It also includes personal leave outside the local area and non-official travel outside the local area.
There are exception to policy (or ETPs):
- Travel to or from basic training, recruiting, advanced individual training will be allowed, as are follow-on orders to first new duty stations
- Any travel by patients and their authorized escorts for medical treatment is allowed.
- Travel for Global Force Management (including deployments, re-deployments, and TDYs) activities are exempt. This largely depends on the mission and command authorization, so the best information will come from the service member’s command. Those on US Navy vessels will be able to re-deploy granted they quarantine for 14 days after returning.
- Those who have initiated their PCS (i.e., HHGs are picked up and travel has started) are able to continue to their final destination.
- Travel for those who has a TDY that ends while the stop move is in place may return to their permanent duty station.
- Any travel by personnel who are part of Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise whereas they are supplying services to global efforts.
- Those who are retiring or ending active service are exempt from the travel ban.
- Travel by those under authority of a Chief Mission as prescribed by their command.
In order to be granted an exeception, you must fall under one of the following categories:
- Mission Essential
- Necessary for humanitarian reasons
- Warranted due to extreme hardship
Each waiver will be executed on a case by case basis. “Approval authority may be designated no lower than the first general or flag officer or member of the Senior Executive Service or equivalent in the traveler’s chain of command” meaning that it will be, generally, an O7 or higher.
In addition to these guidances, each branch of the military will provide additional guidance to their personnel to ensure the safety of their service members and their families, and to prevent as little hardship as possible. These guidances include:
- A clear communication of these directives as it applies to their personnel and their families
- Establish pre- and post-travel guidances on quarantines and screening processes
- Use military or DoD prescribed travel vessels for service members and families whenever possible
- Inform all travelers of their responsibility of informing their incoming command of their travel itineraries
- Communicate how to document applied waivers in their orders
- If possible, extensions on current orders or applicable waivers should be given for those with school-age dependents in order to minimize the disruption and costs associated with their education.
Stories of families panicking over the extension of the stop movement order are beginning to circulate on social media once again. Some have homes they selling and/or purchasing which they either have to back out on or continue with the transactions and live in limbo until the stop movement order is lifted. Some are stuck on base housing or their current living arrangements without any of their belongings with no idea of when they will finally be able to move. Others have been living in hotels since March with the new stop order keeping them there for the next several weeks.
Other families have concerns about the bottleneck effect this will have on the busiest moving season of the year. The military and their contracted movers will have more people transitioning than they can handle, causing moves to possibly be delayed even more.
For those families who have found themselves in limbo of a PCS, there are some resources available to help you. Check out this article on Military.com for more information.
The stop movement order has affected more than just those who are PCSing. Deployments have been moved back and redeployments are extended. Some families have been separated for a year or more, with seemingly no end in sight for when this travel ban will officially be lifted for good. The DoD will continue to monitor and reevaluate the travel ban every two weeks, and military families can only hope that no more extensions are in our futures.