- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It’s not quite reached the level of Veterans Affairs’ incompetence, but a new contractor in charge of moving military families’ cars as they transition from one site to another is failing miserably to perform, leaving some without transportation for as many as 30 days.

And at least one congressional member says the problem is impacting troop morale and mission.

“[This problem is] actually having significant negative impacts on our mission deployments,” said Sen. David Vitter, in the Washington Examiner.

The issue began last year, when International Auto Logistics of Brunswick, Georgia, was contracted for $305 million to take charge of transportation issues involving 66,000 personal vehicles owned by military members and their families, the Washington Examiner reported. But IAL isn’t doing so well — and plenty of military members and families are suffering.

“It’s just a nightmare,” said Angela Jackson, whose husband is in the military and who was trying to get her Ford Explorer shipped to the United States from Germany in May. Forty-four days late — and damaged — the vehicle was finally delivered, the Washington Examiner reported.

But now the family has to deal with the roughly $1,500 in damages inflicted on the vehicle during delivery.

“The company, they don’t take any responsibility for anything that they do,” she told the newspaper. “They’re just making excuses.”

Others say complaints to the company frequently go unanswered — or unheard.

“For a third of a billion dollars, somebody ought to answer the phone,” said Parker Northrup, who’s married to an Air Force colonel and who was just told that their family vehicle has finally arrived in Baltimore — weeks past its scheduled delivery date, the Washington Examiner reported. “The frustration just mounts.”

Another military spouse, Chasity Wahl, said it’s been 30 days past expected delivery, but she still doesn’t know what’s happened to her family vehicle. Adding frustration to the matter is that she just had to turn down a job opportunity because of lack of transportation, she said, the Washington Examiner reported.

“It’s not just affecting the transportation side,” she told the paper. “It’s affecting the livelihood of family members who desperately need [their vehicles]. It’s gotten way out of hand.”

The family members — roughly 900 of them — have signed on to a petition demanding the Defense Department revoke the contract with IAL.

IAL, for its part, said it’s working to fix the glitches.

“IAL took over this contract during the busiest time of the year, leading to unanticipated quantities of vehicle shipping and processing requests that tested their new systems,” company spokeswoman Amanda Nunez said in the Washington Examiner report.

The negative news comes just as President Obama signed off on a $16.3 billion bill to overhaul the VA, which rocked national headlines in recent months after it was revealed medical officials were manipulating records to show proper care for patients — even as they delayed much-needed treatments for veterans.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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