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Managing your move

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- With peak permanent change of station season fast approaching, it's important for service members and their families to stay up-to-date on general shipping restrictions, as well as considerations unique to overseas locations like Okinawa.

The best resource for PCS information is the Transportation Management Office.

"Our role in the PCS process is to advise members when it comes to their PCS entitlements," said Staff Sgt. Latoya Henry, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management personal property counselor. "As customers come into our office, we assist by answering any questions or concerns, and collecting all documents required to complete the shipping process."

When moving from the U.S. to overseas, it is important for service members to keep shipping restrictions and policies in mind and be aware of any changes to these policies, such as the recent change to the Air Force's restrictions on shipping professional books, papers and equipment, otherwise known as "pro-gear."
"The new policy regarding pro-gear redefines PBP&E, and limits the amount to a maximum net weight of 2,000 pounds," Henry said.

Although service members will only be able to take a maximum of 2,000 pounds of pro-gear overseas from this point on, Henry said those who transported more than 2,000 pounds of PBP&E overseas prior to the change will be grandfathered and allowed to return the same amount to the continental U.S.

Official orders are required to begin the PCS process, and there are a few things service members can take care of on their own before contacting TMO.

"Upon receipt of orders, every member is to view their Virtual Military Personnel Flight checklist," Henry said. "There are instructions on the VMPF checklist, which specify what needs to be done prior to coming into the TMO office."

Service members moving to Okinawa will encounter some unique obstacles they should be aware of as early as possible in the PCS process in order to eliminate unnecessary stress.

"Housing in Japan is smaller than homes in the continental U.S., commercial storage in Japan is almost non-existent and housing offices will not fund items to be sent back for storage," Henry said. "Also, privately-owned firearms will not be shipped in either unaccompanied baggage or household goods shipments to or from Japan."

Moving from the island to a base outside of Japan has its considerations as well; service members should be mindful of the souvenirs they bring back to their loved ones.

"Members departing from Okinawa should be mindful of the shipping of non-perishable foods," Henry said. "They are only authorized to ship un-opened, non-perishable foods from the commissary or any affiliated location on base. Movers will not pack any foods purchased from the local community off-base."

For more information, contact Kadena's TMO at 632-0068.