Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Military Mail

The Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) is an extension of the United States Postal Service. Its primary mission is to provide the same postal services available stateside to service members around the world. Bringing people from around the world together through the mail is no easy task. It requires the coordination of all branches of the military, USPS, and commercial carriers to ensure that our service men and women can stay in touch with loved ones wherever they might be.

Each branch of the military previously had its own independent mail system. Segregated mail service changed in 1980 when the Department of Defense chose the Secretary of the Army to manage the mail of all military members. That’s when the MPSA was created to handle this function. The MPSA is required to follow the rules and regulations of the USPS as well as all federal and foreign laws when handling military mail through the more than 85 countries it serves.

When someone sends a service member in a foreign country mail, it’s called Prograde Mail. Such services include Express Mail Military Service, First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, Military Ordinary Mail parcels, Parcel Airlift Mail, Space-Available Mail, surface, second-class, third-class, and fourth class mail.

When someone receives mail from a service member in a foreign country, the mail is called Retrograde Mail. This includes Express Mail Military Service, Priority / First-Class Mail, Parcel Airlift Mail, Space-Available Mail, and Military Ordinary Mail parcels.  

Many of the special services the USPS offers are also available to military members with the exception of Signature Confirmation and Collect on Delivery. Delivery times can vary substantially from location to location. A First-Class letter sent to Germany can take anywhere from seven to nine days to arrive. That same letter would take 11 to 13 days to arrive in Iraq.

Mail sent to service members is not censored; though there are restrictions on what they can contain depending on the area of deployment such as narcotics, alcohol, and pork. Always be sure to check what is appropriate for the country of delivery before sending an item in the mail to a service member.

What interesting items have you sent to a member of the military stationed overseas?

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