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Thousands Of Military Moves Still On Hold As Cononavirus Restrictions Remain In Place

Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)...

Credit: United States Department of Defense

Above: Sailors man the rails of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it pulls into its homeport in San Diego, May 7, 2018.

The relocation plans of several thousand sailors and officers continue to be held up as the Navy tries to cope with the coronavirus.

Kellie Kopec is a military spouse. Her husband is a petty officer first class in the Navy. They were just about to leave San Diego for Virginia when the Department of Defense halted most travel due to the pandemic.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

“On Monday the 16th he went in and had a meeting with his chain of command and they said it’s a stop movement and you’re not going,” she said.

Like thousands of military families, they were stuck between duty stations. The Kopecs had already sold their house.

“Just like most families in this situation we have to find out what’s best for them,” she said. “And yeah, we had to finish moving out of our house. We had to finish selling our house and make sure we had a roof over our head.”

Just two months earlier, they had a baby. They got creative and bought an RV, so at the moment they’re living in a mobile home park in El Cajon.

“We eventually made the best decision for our family which was we need a furnished apartment, let’s just get one on wheels,” she said. “We also lost the apartment that we rented in Virginia, which was fully furnished for that temporary school. Now we just get to move in this and live in this,” Kopec said.

The Navy estimates roughly 42,000 sailors and their families are stuck mid-move. The backlog may not be cleared away until early next year, according to Navy officials.

The Pentagon’s original stop movement order was set to expire this week. It was been replaced in May by a series of restrictions with no end date, in a memo put out by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

California is one of 11 states where movement is still heavily restricted. The policy also says restriction can be tightened as cases rise within a state.

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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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