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Postal agency sets holiday mailing dates, policies

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 22, 2002) -- "The first advice is to mail early," said Ed Larson, MPSA operations chief. "Check with your local post office for the recommended mailing dates. In each country there will be slightly different dates."

The recommended mail deadlines for sending mail from the U.S. to all overseas APO/FPO addressees for the holidays are:

- Space available mail: Nov. 27. - Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 4. - First-class mail, letters and cards and priority mail: Dec. 11.

According to the United States Air Forces in Europe air postal squadron, these dates also apply to mail leaving USAFE installations for the United States.

For mail leaving Pacific Air Forces installations, the following mailing deadlines should be observed:

- Space available mail: Nov. 22 from Okinawa, Australia and Thailand; Nov. 23 from mainland Japan; and Dec. 4 from South Korea. - Parcel Airlift Mail: Nov. 29 from Okinawa, Australia and Thailand; Nov. 30 from mainland Japan; and Dec. 4 from South Korea. - First-class mail, letters and cards and priority mail: Dec. 6 from Okinawa and Thailand; Dec. 7 from mainland Japan; Dec. 9 from Australia; and Dec. 11 from South Korea.

Additional mailing dates or updates are available at local military postal facilities. Those mailing packages need to be aware that customs forms are required on all international mail, Larson said.

"I would advise people to pick up customs forms prior to sealing their packages," Larson said. "That way you can be very specific on the form. Also, check with the local post office for a list of items that are not mailable."

While the United States has restrictions on mailing items such as poisons and weapons, other countries have their own restrictions for what can be mailed, Larson said.

"Mail to Middle Eastern countries can't contain anything contrary to the Islamic faith," Larson said. "Tobacco is not mailable to certain locations and coffee is not mailable to Germany. Service members overseas should know the restrictions for their area and provide that information to their correspondents and family members."

Larson also said mailing powdered substances, while not specifically prohibited, could cause delay in mail processing if the powder were to leak out of the packaging.

Additionally, for the second year, the MPSA will not support Operation Dear Abby or "Any Servicemember" mailing programs.

"These programs were cancelled in October 2001, not only because of the saturation of the mail pipeline that they cause, but more importantly because of the risk or concern for bio-terrorism articles in the mail," Larson said.

According to Larson, MPSA encourages military members to support the publicly available Web sites that allow the American public to write supportive letters to service members.