Thursday, October 13, 2005

In the Sandbox...

Postal Companies Deliver Customer Service in Iraq
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – America has come a long way with postal service. Long gone are the days of the Pony Express and times when Soldiers would read letters from loved ones dated months earlier.

Technology has paved the way for blink-of-the-eye communication through telephone calls and e-mail. Despite these advancements, the postal service is still important to Soldiers and plays an integral role in their morale.

At Camp Liberty, the post office is comprised of Army Reserve Soldiers from the 365th Adjutant General Postal Company of Athens, Ga., and the 155th Adjutant General Postal Company based out of Salt Lake City.

“We ensure the mail gets to the Soldiers,” said 1st Lt. Kirk Kouzis, post office officer in charge. “We provide this service to the troops stationed in the area, and we also process the outgoing mail for these Soldiers.”

While the goal is simple, the process of getting mail from one point to another is very intricate. Packages must be inspected and shipping costs must be assessed before the mail ban be sorted, then shipped to its final destination.

Sgt. Claudin Butler, 341st AG Postal Co., inspects the mail and ensures packages are free of contraband.

“The post office is separated in different work tasks,” Butler said. “We have Soldiers receiving and sending mail, working at the finance section and handling shipping costs, and also inspecting packages so any non-mailable items aren’t leaving theater. It is very important to do a thorough inspection, because we don’t get a second opportunity.”

Mail inspectors look through every outgoing package for such things as weapons, ammunition, TA-50 (issued field equipment) and other contraband.

“Everything that is confiscated is logged and then destroyed,” said Staff Sgt. Miranda Smith, 155th AG Postal Co.

Sgt. Joshua Nunally, 341st Adjutant General Postal Company, said redeploying Soldiers play a part in their work schedule.

“During holidays and when units are coming and going, we can get a large volume of traffic in here,” Nunally said.

The company receives about 40,000 pounds of mail daily.

Spc. Roberto Batista, 341st AG Postal Co., said much like outgoing mail, it is hard to foresee when big shipments are coming in.

“We usually get two or three trucks coming in, but one time we had six trucks of mail a day for a week straight,” said Batista. “Every day is new.”

Because of that unpredictability, versatility is vital, said Pfc. Vacia Morrison, 341st AG Postal Co.

“The operation of the post office is a very hands-on process, and everyone has to pitch in to get the mail delivered,” Morrison said. “Everyone is required to know how to work in each different section in case we have to fill in for another Soldier.”

For most Soldiers, mail remains a significant morale booster, despite the immediacy of e-mail.

“Increased communications through technology is good, but writing an e-mail is not the same as writing a letter,” Butler said. “When someone writes a letter, they are showing they really care by taking the time and thinking about what to say before putting down their thoughts.” (Task Force Baghdad PAO, Centcom news wire)

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