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Military Postal System supports military customers, not humanitarian organizations

Sep 16, 2009

By Tom Saunders (IMCOM-Europe)

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- As temperatures dip and the season shifts toward fall, individuals may already start getting the holiday spirit, and some people may be motivated to start a holiday gift drive for children in Iraq or Afghanistan.

If that's the case, Installation Management Command-Europe postal operations officials advise people who want to send goods intended for the local populations downrange to contact the International Red Cross or other charitable organizations.

Using the military postal system is not authorized, said Keith Jones, IMCOM-Europe Postal Operations Chief.

"We firmly appreciate the kind intent of people who wish to send gifts to children in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere our troops serve, however, it's against postal policy to use the system," said Jones. "People should keep in mind that the MPS is funded by taxpayers for military mail delivered to authorized U.S. and allied recipients. Delivering parcels to non-authorized recipients drains manpower and resources and can delay delivery of parcels intended for our troops."

Jones said that it's not uncommon for a number of military organizations or would-be do-gooders to collect parcels and mail them through military postal locations. However, sending or receiving such donations violates postal regulations specified in DoD Postal Manual 4525.6-M and EUCOM Instruction 8701.01.

"There are agencies established specifically to provide that type of humanitarian service," said Jones. "We perform a vital military postal service ensuring our troops and families get their parcels when they need them. We can continue to do that efficiently during the holiday season if individuals wishing to mail humanitarian donations work with organizations designed to perform that noteworthy effort."

Jones explained that searching the Web yields numerous agencies that provide the humanitarian service. But, he cautioned, there are some individuals or groups that still suggest using FPO and APO systems to mail goods.

"Perhaps they aren't aware of the policy, but sooner or later, the policy will catch up to them," said Jones. "It's important that people understand that the military postal system is solely designed to meet the important needs of the military community."

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