If you’re a military spouse, and you work or volunteer in the community, you may be eligible for your own military spouse professional gear (pro-gear) weight allowance when you execute permanent change of station (PCS) orders. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there aren’t a lot of things that qualify. In particular, computers and associated hardware are no longer eligible to be counted as pro-gear.
If you are employed, or serve as an ombudsman, Scout leader, Red Cross nurse, or any other community volunteer, the weight of your uniforms and certain papers and books may be deducted from your overall weight allowance.
What Items Count?
From the Joint Travel Regulations, Appendix A: Acronyms and Definitions, Part One: Definitions, Professional, Books, Papers and Equipment (PBP&E):
D. Member’s Dependent Spouse
a. This weight allowance is not applicable to a civilian employee’s dependent spouse.
b. PBP&E includes HHG in a spouse’s possession needed for the spouse’s employment or community support activities at the next or a later destination.
2. The following items are PBP&E:
a. Reference material,
b. Instruments, tools, and equipment peculiar to technicians, mechanics, and members of the professions, and
c. Specialized clothing such as diving suit, flying suits and helmets, band uniforms, nurse uniforms, chaplains’ vestments, and other specialized apparel not normal or usual uniform or clothing.
In reality, this means papers, books, instruments or tools, and uniforms. Books are limited based on the restrictions listed in the next section, but a lot of people seem to get away with counting a lot of books. In my eyes, paper items would be anything that isn’t easily replaced: curriculum, notes, flyers, handouts, handbooks, etc. For example, I have several binders of gathered Army Family program materials that I could not recreate.
What Items Don’t Count
The following items are not eligible to be counted as professional gear, per the Transcom “It’s Your Move” booklet (edited for clarity):
- Commercial products for sale/resale used in conducting business,
- Sports equipment,
- Shop fixtures
- Furniture of any kind even though used In Connection With (ICW) the PBP&E (e.g., bookcases, study/computer desks, file cabinets, and racks),
- Personal computer equipment and peripheral devices,
- Memorabilia including awards, plaques or other objects presented for past performance, (includes any type of going away gifts, office decorations, pictures, etc.),
- Table service including flatware, dishes, and glassware,
- Other items of a professional nature that are not necessary at the next/subsequent PDS, such as text books from previous schools unrelated to future duties, personal books, even if used as part of a past professional reading program or course of instruction, and reference material that ordinarily would be available at the next/subsequent PDS either in hard copy or available on the Internet. (emphasis added)
How Much Is The Allowance?
The professional gear weight allowance for military spouses is 500 pounds.
How Do I Take This Allowance?
The estimated weight of PBP&E/Pro-Gear must be provided during counseling and annotated on DD Form 1299. Items must be separated and properly labelled during packout to ensure that they are weighed separately. I designate a certain area in the house and gather all my pro gear there. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It might be a fireplace mantle or a certain bookcase or just one corner of a room. I hang a sign that says “spouse pro gear” with an arrow. (Use painter’s tape – no one wants to ruin paint right before they check out of a house!)
For most of us, that extra weight allowance isn’t really going to matter. However, it is a good habit to always separate your eligible professional gear for two reasons: in case your household goods weight is higher than you estimate, and to establish a pattern of having military spouse professional gear. Moving regulations change all the time, and I think it is always good to use whatever allowances are available to show that they are needed.
A great resource for more information on this and all other moving questions is the It’s Your Move booklet produced by the US Transportation Command.
Questions? Comments? I’ve done this a few times and it has been really easy!