Fort McCoy's Mobilization Mailroom delivers news from home
April 22, 2010
FORT McCoy, Wis. -- Even in the age of e-mail, Soldiers still look forward to the pleasure of receiving correspondence through the "regular" mail, which has brought cards, letters and packages to the troops throughout the years.
For mobilized troops at Fort McCoy, the mail process begins with weekday mail calls at the Mobilization Mail Room in building 1868.
Mail is "very important," according to Spc. Robert Bills, of the 328th Engineer Company, an Army Reserve unit from New Jersey, preparing to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"Everybody looks forward to mail," Bills said. "After a long hard day at work, to have words of encouragement from home, it helps you to look forward to the next day." Bills is a mechanic in the maintenance section of the 328th, and has the additional duty as a mail clerk to pick up the 328th's mail from the Mobilization Mailroom and take it back to his unit for distribution.
Bills has the help of Spc. Hector Lopez, also a mechanic with the 328th.
"Mail helps motivate any Soldier," Lopez said. "It helps to keep us fighting. Cell phone and e-mail are not always available, and might not be depending upon exactly where we are going."
Both Soldiers noted the importance of the time-honored and proven "care packages" Soldiers still get, "with good-tasting candies and snacks." Packages are also delivered to the mobilization mailroom on weekdays.
Dave Helgesen and Mark Cayer are the mail clerks who operate the Fort McCoy Mobilization Mailroom. Helgesen has been at the mobilization mailroom since it opened in October 2003. Cayer has worked there three years.
Helgesen and Cayer receive the letters and packages, sort them and place them into wood crates, each crate with the mob unit's number-name on it. The wood crates were used by the Fort McCoy laundry in the 1940s, and still are in excellent condition.
"The mail is a morale booster," Helgesen said. "It keeps the connection with Families and friends. My mother sent me a care package once a week the year I was in Greenland with the U.S. Air Force."
Cayer said, "The mail is the Soldiers' connection with the world."
"Our Soldiers are going into harm's way," Cayer said, "and they deserve mail service wherever they are in the world, and that includes while they are mobilizing at Fort McCoy. We always see smiles on the faces of the unit clerks and orderlies coming to pick up the mail for their units. They are never grumpy."
"Just because Soldiers are mobilizing doesn't mean birthdays and anniversaries stop," Cayer said. "And there are always the care packages. We also get a lot of mail and packages from Family support groups to individual Soldiers and units."