13 September 2010

An open letter to the DoD.

Dear DoD,

At the risk of sounding like a stodgy, grumpy old man... please, please, I beg of you... ENOUGH WITH THE TECHNOLOGY ALREADY! And if you want specifics, may I please point your attention to your newest mess website: move.mil. But just be warned, should you take a moment to go check that link to be sure of what I speak, allow for 1-3 minutes for the page to load... and another 1-3 for every subsequent page. Just FYI.

It was bad enough having to apply for housing online while my husband (and personal Cliff Notes to the Military) was deployed. What with the obscure and non-conventional terminology, need for seemingly unrelated documents, and no less than 11 scanned copies of every legal and Army-based document I had in my possession (I wish that was an exaggeration, but it is not).  There was no way to contact someone if I had trouble, and there were no confirmations of receipt. Just me, hanging out in my house hoping that it went through and I didn't FUBAR it. I guess I did okay since I am now writing this from inside my on-post housing, but you sure didn't make it easy.

Now you've gone and taken a system that worked so well, and turned it into a gummed up, confusing, non-intuitive and completely un-user-friendly website that is painfully slow to boot. Rather than have us sit down with an experienced transportation counselor (With other couples no less! Multitasking!) to get briefed and have all of our forms (accurately) filled out and submitted with just a few hours of our time (scheduled at our and your convenience)... you have forced given us this new website in the name of making life easier for military families.

Pshaw! As if!

Please just call a spade a spade from now on. Rather than give us lip-service about this clumsy and difficult program being "for us, to make our lives easier", please just call it a money saving venture. What you are trying to do is downsize your offices and instead of hiring capable, experienced, HELPFUL actual people who can sit down with you and truly make the process easier (who, naturally cost money), you are hiring Tech Firms full of people who know nothing about the DoD or the PCS process and are now just frustrated and unhelpful despite their best intentions (hired, naturally, because they were the lowest bidder).

Instead, what you have left us with is a program that is so over burdened that when you apply to get accepted into the online program, I have to wait 6 hours to get my confirmation because the requests are too plentiful. Come on now DoD, if anyone in this world has a clear understanding of how many folks are in the military and on PCS/Retirement/ETS orders, it is you. And still you didn't think this program through well enough to accommodate us. Thanks. So here we sit, twiddling our thumbs for 6 hours, when, had you just kept things the way they were, we'd be done by now.

Furthermore, you have left no option for real, live help. Even here on post. So when our situation is complicated by non-temporary storage or potential changes in final destinations, and when we find out that there are steps we do or don't need to take because we are retiring... we find out about them only after wasting our time and ending up frustrated. Which may not be a big deal to you, but it is to us.

In case you didn't get the point already, this program has done absolutely nothing to make our lives and this process any easier. Oh, and one other thing, when you decide to go paperless and want all documents scanned and e-mailed to the appropriate offices, it would behoove you to also increase the attached file size allowances. Hotmail lets me download up to 10MB of scanned documents, AKO however wouldn't even let me attach 4 scanned pages despite reducing the scan quality to almost unreadable. Does this mean maybe some guys will get more bandwidth of p0rn somewhere in Afghanistan? Probably. But for those of us doing official business, you know- like moving when you tell us to, it would make us a lot less frustrated.

Really, all we are asking of you, DoD, is that you actually think about the military families that are going to be effected by the changes in programs you want to make... not just your bottom line. We all understand that money is tight, but making us all suffer through poorly thought-out and clumsy programs just to PCS (which, in case you forgot, we do quite often) isn't the answer. I'm all for technology, but even if it makes me sound like an old man, computers and HTML code can't always replace real live people.

Tucker (and Swiss)

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