Diverse unit provides personnel, postal services

By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Starting with several units from three different components, six different states, and military occupational specialties ranging from personnel to mechanics, the 138th Personnel Services Battalion had the challenge of becoming one team under the difficult circumstances of deployment.

Through team-building exercises, they formed into one cohesive unit and were able to provide the personnel support services and postal operations necessary to the morale of the troops at LSA Anaconda.

"Our battalion truly represents an Army of One," said Lt. Col. Colette A. Johnson, 138th PSB commander. "We are just one big melting pot."

When the National Guard and Reserve units mobilized and the active duty units received deployment orders, they all trained separately at their respective home stations or mobilization sites. None of the Soldiers from the different states knew each other upon arriving at LSA Anaconda.

"We had organizational days. We did a battalion run together. We did the Myers-Briggs personality test, so that everyone could learn a little bit about each other," Johnson said.

Elements of the 138th PSB are dispersed throughout the theater of operations.

Soldiers from Headquarters, 993rd Adjutant General Company (Postal) from Springfield, Ill., 1st Platoon, 449th Adjutant General Company Postal from North Carolina, and 2nd Platoon, 471st Adjutant General Company (Postal) from Des Moines, Iowa, are providing personnel services and postal operations at Camp Cooke.

Some Soldiers from the various 138th PSB units are sprinkled throughout Baghdad and Qatar, as well.

The crew here is responsible for all the personnel actions for the Soldiers of LSA Anaconda, except for the 1st Infantry Division that is the responsibility of the 38th Personnel Services Battalion.

The Soldiers process identification cards and tags, emergency leave, promotions and awards. They also update officer and enlisted record briefs.

In addition to personnel actions, units under the command of the 138th PSB run the postal operations on post from receiving the mail and sorting it by unit or organization to inspecting and shipping Soldiers' letters and packages out of theater.

In the time that they've been here, the 138th PSB and its subordinate units have processed more than 37,000 personnel services support actions, helped more than 51,000 customers and processed more than 5 million pounds of mail.

In the coming months, the Soldiers expect to see a drastic increase in all personnel and mail services.

"We have to be very studious and be sure we keep a good count of the ballots that are coming into theater and going out," Johnson said. "We have the holiday season, which is going to be tremendous. A lot of people are going to be receiving packages from their loved ones from the states, so our business will probably double, maybe even triple during the months of November, December and January, just from the holiday mail."

In addition to the election season and Christmas, transfers of authority have started, increasing the number of promotions and awards.

"With TOAs taking place, there will be a lot of people that have been walking around without their ID cards and tags. When they find out that they need them to fly home, they'll be rushing to the [personnel services detachment]. Do it now, because you don't want to run into a backlog," Johnson said.

Soldiers should also make sure they turn in a Department of the Army form 3955, Change of address and directory card to their unit mail clerk prior to redeploying. Family members should stop sending mail about three weeks before the date a Soldier is set to depart.

The battalion includes B and C Detachments, 510th Personnel Services Battalion from Mannheim, Germany, Headquarters and 2nd Platoon, 175th Adjutant General Company (Postal) from Fort Lewis, Wash., 3rd Platoon, 313th Adjutant General Company (Postal) from Puerto Rico, 1st and 2nd Platoons, 350th Adjutant General Company (Postal) from Texas, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 138th Personnel Services Battalion from Indianapolis, Ind., and 2nd Platoon, 449th Adjutant General Company (Postal) from North Carolina.

Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.

 

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Sgt. Jose Ortiz-Bello, promotions section sergeant, looks for promotion packets for Soldiers in the 4th Corps Materiel Management Center.

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Pfc. Javier Zayas, human resources specialist from the 510th Personnel Services Battalion, makes a new set of identification tags for a customer here.