KMC post offices prepare for holiday mail blitz

Senior Airman Kerry Solan-Johnson
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***The season of giving is right around the corner for the KMC – and to
ensure the gifts arrive on time, the post offices have some tips.

“Historically, the holidays can create delays in the mail system, and
customers should expect this during the November and December time
frame,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Pechman, 435th Communications
Squadron postal operations superintendent. “During this time, we’ll
process triple the normal volume of mail arriving.”

To help operations keep up with the increased flow of mail, the post
offices will extend customer service hours in mid-to-late November,
additional over-hires will be brought in, and opportunities for the
community and private organizational volunteers will be available.

“Within a few weeks we’ll be working a 24-7 operation to keep a steady streamline of mail coming in,” said Sergeant Pechman.

The 21st Theater Support Command will likewise increase mail pick-up
runs from the main mail depot at Daenner Kaserne and also have
additional Soldiers sorting mail.

Sergeant Pechman, who just transferred from 2nd Air Postal Squadron
Headquarters and handled holiday planning and customer support, knows
the mailing system well and knows things can go wrong in the mailing
system without proper planning by both the Military Postal Service, and
the customer.

“This is a vast network spanning the globe, and things can go wrong.
There’s a human factor involved, and mistakes can happen,” said
Sergeant Pechman.

“It’s important for customers to ensure the accuracy of the ‘To’ and
‘From’ mailing addresses placed on parcels – the more accurate the
info, the less likely there’ll be a problem or delay.”

In the event something does happen to a package, “Customers can only be
reimbursed for the lost or damaged package if they purchased insurance
at the time of mailing; in my opinion, it’s worth the money,” said
Sergeant Pechman. “The bottom line is mail throughout the world similar
to cargo, commercial air carriers and corporations have systems to load
and unload cargo – packages will be moved around and handled a lot.
It’s extremely important that all items are well-packaged and wrapped
to ensure they arrive safely.”

However, insuring a package doesn’t mean it can be tracked – mail sent
Space Available or Parcel Air Lift may take a variety of different
routes before arriving at its final destination – packages mailed from
Ramstein don’t fly out on a C-130 the day after they are mailed.

“It’s a common misconception that the Military Postal Service is an
all-military operational system, that’s simply not the case, we act as
a liaison between the military and the U.S. Postal Service.” said
Sergeant Pechman. “In addition to guidelines set forth by the USPS,
military post offices have additional directives they must adhere to
established by the DoD to support the uniqueness of military operations

Some of these directives come into play this time of year for increased instances of suspicious packages.

“When someone leaves their empty parcel container, handbag or packaging
materials lying around, we have to shut down operations and evacuate
for as long as four hours (for Explosive Ordnance Disposal to
respond),” said Sergeant Pechman.

Although much of the mailing process isn’t in the customers’ hands,
there are many things they can do to ensure the system continues to
operate smoothly.

“Mail early if you can and check your receptacle frequently –
especially Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which are the heaviest
days for mail volume,” said Sergeant Pechman.