Volunteers deliver help to Ramstein postal operations

Erica Bryant, Northside Post Office volunteer, poses for a photo at the Ramstein Northside Post Office, Ramstein Air Base, Nov. 23. Bryant has been volunteering at Ramstein’s Northside Post Office for the past two and a half years.

Airmen and families assigned to Ramstein have experienced the post offices on base. Whether it’s picking up a package at the parcel pickup window, setting up a mailbox with customer service for an inbound Airman, or receiving help at the finance window, the post offices are familiar destinations. Postal operations are undeniably a large part of life at Ramstein.

For most, experiences with postal operations is brief, and knowledge is based solely on what is observed from the outside. But for the inquisitive, and those with a little time to spare, there is so much more to be seen.

“When we got here in 2018, I started seeing posts on Facebook about the post office needing volunteers for the upcoming holiday season,” said Erica Bryant, Northside Post Office volunteer. “I thought that it would be interesting. I was intrigued and thought, ‘I want to see what goes on behind that window,’ so I started showing up whenever I could.”

To her surprise, postal operations were much more than met the eye.

“Before, I could have never comprehended how everything gets processed, or how many steps it took for a package to get to our mailboxes,” Bryant said. “People don’t see how much work and time it takes to process, sort, and tag all of the items that come in. Even something as seemingly simple as receiving an email to let us know our package has arrived has an entire process behind it.”

Erica Bryant, Northside Post Office volunteer, places mail into a box at the Ramstein Northside Post Office, Ramstein Air Base, Nov. 23. Post office volunteers take on a variety of tasks that include receiving parcel shipments, sorting mail and assisting customers at the parcel pickup windows.

Bryant is no stranger to volunteering. She and her husband have been part of the military lifestyle for 29 years with 10 different assignments, including two tours at Ramstein. In that time, she’s volunteered for numerous organizations.

“I’ve volunteered for the USO, the Red Cross, multiple military thrift shops…” she said.

Even with all of her volunteer experience, Bryant expressed there nothing is quite like the postal operations.

“I had no idea how much these Airmen do,” she said. “I have gained a more complete understanding and so much empathy for the folks that get assigned to the post offices. They receive thousands of packages and pieces of mail each week, sometimes three 18-wheeler sized trucks a day, completely full to the roof.”

Bryant’s perspective of the post office changed once she witnessed what went on behind the service window.

“Behind the counter is way bigger than most people imagine and still, they do not have enough space because of the influx of online shipments. It’s kind of like walking into a TARDIS from Doctor Who; it’s a whole other world.”

Erica Bryant, Northside Post Office volunteer, looks for a package at the Ramstein Northside Post Office, Ramstein Air Base, Nov. 23. The Northside Post Office utilizes software that allows employees and volunteers to quickly find packages for customers.

Even with the overwhelming volume and amount of work that has to be done, it only seems to encourage Bryant to keep coming back.

“I know they really need the help,” Bryant said. “I always encourage people to volunteer anywhere, but especially at the post office. I’ve gotten many members of the Ramstein Officers Spouses’ Club to come help out. We have about 15 spouses that volunteer on a regular basis now.”

Bryant says knowing her contributions are appreciated gives her a sense of pride and makes her want to keep working with Postal Operations Airmen.

“I feel accomplished after completing a task like pitching mail,” Bryant said. “It feels good seeing all of the bins I emptied at the end of the day. The Airmen always say thank you and seem to really appreciate the help. I always leave feeling good.”