News: Letters, packages to deployed quadruple during holiday season
Story by Master Sgt. Denise Johnson
By Tech. Sgt. Denise Johnson
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- 380th Air Expeditionary Wing postal workers doubled their workload for the holiday season and expect to double it yet again in the coming weeks.
"We're currently moving two and a half times the volume of our normal mail load," said Scott Vann on Nov. 9.
The 380th AEW Post Office site lead added, "By the end of next week, it'll easily be three to four times more."
The holiday season for postal workers begins in the middle of November and generally goes through the middle of December.
The post office serves a smaller customer base than some of the larger bases in the area of responsibility, according to Vann. Yet it handles one of the busiest mail routes in Southwest Asia.
"We've handled nearly a million kilos of mail this year," said Oneris Barett, postal contractor.
Aside from being one of the heaviest mail expeditors in the AOR, the 380th postal team is also one of the fastest to process their incoming and outgoing mail.
"It takes us at the most two hours to process our mail," said Scott Kirsch, custodian of postal affects, originally from Toledo, Ohio. "That's largely due to our volunteers from the 380th Fire and Emergency Services firefighters. They are our backbone."
Getting the mail in and out is more than a job to the year-long assignees.
"We take our job to heart. Getting letters and packages to the 380th community as quickly and efficiently as possible means they're morale will be higher and they can focus on the mission," said Vann, who hails from Dahlonega, Ga.
Some members who are on extended deployments have their mail forwarded to the deployed location. This allows them to handle personal finances as well as staying in touch with loved ones.
"If we don't do our job well," explained Vann. "The people here and their families at home pay the price. I think we make a difference."
The post office contractors offer services not typically found at other post offices, such as helping people package items, providing free packing materials and offering a touch of the holiday spirit to the desert atmosphere.
"We try and help people out," Kirsch said. "Just the other day we helped someone in the parking lot build a shipping crate for a large picture frame. It means so much to see the look on peoples' faces when they receive a hand-written letter or a box from home."
Holiday carols, a small tree, and multi-colored lights can be heard and seen in the customer service area.
As quickly as the workers apply themselves, they are still held to the constraints of transportation schedules, which can change at a moment's notice in the area of responsibility. The delivery time frame, whether to or from Southwest Asia, varies. So postal workers generally recommend customers allow two to six weeks for delivery during the holiday period.
The 380th postal service team's fast turn-around time and additional services don't go unnoticed by the customers nor the leadership.
"Staying in touch with families, keeping up on personal business ... it's all a part of maintaining mental preparedness and well-being," said 380th AEW command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kent Smith. "If you're well mentally, it shows in your duty performance and in the success of the mission. Mail is an essential part of that well-being."