Making the post office process less painful

Story and Photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq– As the responsible drawdown of forces and equipment begins this summer, thousands of redeploying service members will need to send their equipment and personal items home, potentially clogging the Army mail system.

“This is going to be a continuing challenge as units leave and new units arrive,” said Maj. Linda Bass, human resources chief with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Bessemer, Ala., native.

Joint Base Balad’s Army Post Office-East has one of the largest commerce averages in theater — roughly 9,000 lbs of mail retrograded out of theater each day. Efficiency and speed are required to ensure the mail reaches its proper destination on time, said 1st Lt. Denys Buschmann, the postal plans and operations officer for U.S. Divisions – North and South, with the 18th Human Resources Company, 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th SC(E) and a Fort Douglas, Utah, native.

“Those types of statistics equal a very busy operation,” Bushmann said. “With all the redeployments going on, more people are mailing their personal items home.”

Soldiers with the 13th SC(E) are working to mitigate the potential congestion problems by implementing various procedures to make the post office process go as smoothly as possible.

Postal customers can accelerate the postal process by having customs forms, address labels and additional service forms filled out before entering the APO.

“Feel free to come into the APO and take any necessary forms to enable yourself to pack your parcel and fill out the form in the comfort of your (room),” Buschmann said.

While packing parcels, service members should ensure not to exceed the 70-pound limit.

“Keeping small items organized with clear ziplock bags, and ensuring all (prohibited items) such as ammunition, weapon magazines or items containing alcohol are removed, will expedite your movement through (the APO),” Buschmann said.

Depending on the contents of the parcel, the average inspection time varies.

“The average is 20 minutes per large parcel or tough box, but inspection times vary from less than 10 minutes to over 35 minutes,” Bass said.

If customers run into any problems during the course of their postal experience, they should contact an Army postal Soldier.

“Ask for the (noncommissioned officer-in-charge) and they will make sure the problem is rectified,” Buschmann said.

“We want to solve problems at the lowest level,” Bass said.

In addition to having access to postal services at APO-East, Soldiers on JBB also have the option of going to APO-West, located next to the post exchange on the west side of JBB, where lines tend to be shorter, Buschmann said.

Soldiers or units with multiple or foot lockers also have the option of setting an appointment at either APO-E or APO-W.

Residents of JBB can log on to the 13th SC(E) intranet homepage and access the postal tab to have a wealth of information available at their fingertips, including prohibited item information, hours, contacts, example forms, and general APO use information.

As a final note, Buschmann said, the APO would like to remind customers the only accepted method of payment for postal servicesis cash or EagleCash.

 

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Sgt. Chelsey Nelson (right), a postal operations team member with the 478th Postal Operations Detachment, and a Salt Lake City, native, has her parcel inspected May 19 by an Army Post Office worker at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Army Post Office-East on JBB has one of the largest commerce averages in Iraq, with about 9,000 lbs of mail being retrograded out of theater each day. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah)

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Capt. Michael Mixon, commander of the 545th Military Police Company, and a Fort Richardson, Alaska, native, fills out a Customs form after conducting a final inspection of his cargo box May 19 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Soldiers with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) are working to mitigate the potential congestion problems by implementing various rules and procedures to make the post office process go as smoothly as possible. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah)