Military Postal Agency Offers Advice for Holiday Mailing
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2005 "Pack it well" and "mail it early" are two tips a military postal official offered regarding holiday mailings to servicemembers overseas today.
The Defense Department announced recommended holiday mail dates Oct. 31. The first deadlines occur on Nov. 12 for Parcel Post items headed overseas to APO and FPO ZIP codes. Deadlines for other mail classes continue with Nov. 26 for Space Available Mail; Dec. 3, Parcel Airlift Mail; Dec. 10, Priority Mail; and Dec. 19, Express Mail.
Mark J. DeDomenic, assistant deputy director of the Military Postal Service Agency, covered a variety of military mail issues in an interview.
Among his top recommendations are to use nylon tape or some type of reinforced packing tape, because other tapes tend to come off.
He added a few other pointers to speed the delivery of a package to a servicemember.
Any buzzing, ticking or vibrating, for example, is a red flag, DeDomenic said. So to keep a package from getting bomb-squad attention, he advised removing batteries from electronics.
Fill out customs labels completely and use a proper military address to help move the package through the system. If there's concern that the content list on the customs label will give away a surprise, DeDomenic said to place the form inside the package and attach a label outside of the package noting where the form is.
Also be conscious of the box's outside markings. Regardless of the contents, boxes with hazardous substance or alcohol markings won't make it through the system, he said.
And boxes used to ship gifts to servicemembers, DeDomenic noted, should be strong and well-packed because of the long distances traveled and the high volume of parcels moving with them.
He said that in the 2004 holiday season, his agency moved more than 28 million pounds of mail just between Dec. 1 and 25. "The mail volumes last (holiday season) were 52 percent more than the volumes the year before," DeDomenic said. By comparison, he added, roughly 5 million pounds of mail move in a typical month.
The agency defines the holiday mailing season as Nov. 15 through Jan. 10.
DeDomenic also referred those who may not personally know a servicemember serving overseas, but want to share the holiday spirit, to the AmericaSupportsYou.mil Web site. "That provides information on how you can support the troops even if you don't have (a servicemember) that is a family member or close relative," he said.
The site lists hundreds of organizations that offer ways the general public can support the troops. Several involve sending greeting cards or packages through these organizations. However, for force-security reasons, packages addressed to "Any Servicemember" will not be shipped, DeDomenic said.
And he pointed out Express Mail for last-minute shipments. In the past, this method relied on a thank-you note from the recipient to verify delivery, but the system has improved this year.
DeDomenic said Express Mail tracking is available through the U.S. Postal Service Web site, as long as the mail isn't going to a combat zone.