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Deployed Airmen at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, prepare to ship packages back to the United States Jan. 8, 2014. The post office employs 16 Airmen and processes nearly 280 packages of incoming mail and nearly 500 letters and 86 packages of outgoing mail a day. The 379th Communications Squadron post office takes inventory daily to ensure the mail reaches the correct destination and isn’t misplaced. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)
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You’ve got mail

Posted 1/16/2014   Updated 1/16/2014 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Hannah Landeros
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/16/2014 - Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar -- Being in a deployed environment can make it difficult to stay in communication with family and friends back in the United States. Here at AUAB, the 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron post office works night and day to ensure that incoming and outgoing mail reaches its correct destination.

The post office processes nearly 866 packages and letters of incoming and outgoing mail each day. The mailroom works around the clock to ensure all packages and letters are processed orderly through the base and Qatari customs.

Packages coming from the U.S. are first sent to Qatari customs. After clearing customs, the mailroom processes the mail and the mail clerks deliver it to the recipient. A mail clerk is an individual that is assigned by each squadron to sign for mail, inspect it and take it to the recipient.

"We sort the mail daily and the process can take up to three hours depending on the amount of mail we receive," said Master Sgt. Victor Negron the 379th ECS postmaster deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., a Woodside, N.Y., native.

To ensure the safety of military personnel, every piece of mail entering or leaving AUAB is inspected by military mail clerks and is x-rayed by the 379th ECS post office and Qatari customs.

"It can sometimes be a challenge working with Qatari customs," said Negron. "We have to explain some items that may be unfamiliar to them. Although it can be a challenge, we build stronger relationships through our interactions."

It's important for the shop to know the location of all mail to ensure it reaches the correct destination and isn't misplaced.

"We scan every single piece of mail delivered to keep accountability," said Negron. "All mail clerks are appointed in writing and sign a document when picking up mail so we know where a package or letter is at all times."

The post office employs 16 Airmen and also utilizes volunteers who help sort through the mail to place letters and packages in the appropriate bins where the recipient's squadron is assigned.

"If we send an item to the wrong location, it will make the process longer and will impede processing for the United States Postal Service causing further delays," said Staff Sgt. Bruce Bartlam the 379th ECS NCO in charge of postal finance deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. "We typically have four to five people on a team and the more volunteers we have, the faster the mail process will go," said the Savannah, Ga., native.

When the mailroom receives incoming mail, it is processed and ready to be picked up by the mail clerks in less than 24 hours.

The mailroom boosts morale and provides another way for deployed members to stay in contact with people back home, explained Negron.

"The best part of my day is providing quality customer service and seeing people smile when they receive their packages," said Negron.

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