SOUTHWEST ASIA – Nothing can compare to the feeling a deployed servicemember gets when he or she receives a care package from a loved one back home.
But packages don’t just appear out of thin air at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing here -- it takes a team of postal services airmen working every day to ensure all mail items get to the right place.
“Whether you are saying hello, getting goodies from home, sending Christmas gifts, seeing pictures of your baby for the first time or simply paying a bill -- mail makes that happen,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott Boucher, the 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron’s postal affairs noncommissioned officer-in-charge who’s deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and hails from Salem, Mass.
With the largest mail volume in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, the two post offices here receive anywhere from 500 to 1,500 packages of incoming and outgoing mail, while serving an average of 75 customers each day, Boucher said.
“Another thing that makes this post office different is we are open seven days a week,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Dolor, a 379th ECS postal specialist deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and a Virginia Beach, Va., native.
In their customer service role, postal clerks help make the shipping process as easy as possible, ensuring all items meet the required specifications prior to being shipped and the customs screening is seamless.
“We are required to inspect every single parcel and look for items unable to be shipped,” Dolor said.
Each day, postal services airmen procure the mail for the base populace.
“We are one of the very few locations that have a mail control activity [airman] who goes to the airport every night to pick up mail,” Boucher said.
During that time, the MCA also drops off the outgoing mail items for shipment and the new mail items are brought to the installation for processing.
“As soon as the incoming truck arrives, we unload and scan the parcels,” Dolor explained. “From there, we divide the mail by the unit it belongs to. Unit mail clerks come through the next day to pick up and disperse [the mail] to the individuals within their respective sections.”
Holiday seasons are especially busy for the post offices here as the mail volume can double or even triple in size, Boucher said. To alleviate the impact, the post offices enlist the help of volunteers to assist with the nightly sorting process.
“Volunteering is important because it gives people a chance to be a part of something so crucial,” Boucher said. “Not to mention there aren’t too many jobs in the Air Force where others can help out; you don’t see the ‘regular Joe’ helping civil engineers build walls or charge heating ventilation air conditioning systems.”
The hard work of the postal services airmen and the continued support of volunteers helps to keep the flow of what Boucher noted is the most important function of the post offices here.
“Delivering morale,” he said. “And keeping our military, Department of Defense employees, and contractor brothers and sisters from all branches of the military, to include other nations, connected with their families.”