By Amanda Ravenstein, 1st Inf. Div. PostMarch 8, 2019
For Soldiers living in the barracks, retrieving mail from the unit mailrooms can be a long, drawn-out process. According to Michael Westphal, Administrative Services Division chief, part of the reason is that arriving mail has incomplete address information.
Soldiers are not using the proper address format, Westphal said.
"They're not using the complete addresses to help us find them," he said. "And with the Soldiers on their deployments, the mailrooms are consolidating -- so we're having issues."
Westphal said there are only 27 of the 46 unit mailrooms being used because of the consolidation efforts during these deployments.
"When a unit deploys, they consolidate into one mailroom," he said. "So, what happens is the rear [detachment] has all these soldiers from different battalions and the mailrooms are like, 'I don't know who this guy is, because they're in this (other) unit.'"
Another issue is Soldiers assigned to a unit could be living in the barracks of another unit.
"What we're seeing is that this (building) might be assigned to [1st Combined Arms Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division]," he said. "But [1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt., 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div.] might have people over here in this other building, in [2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div.'s] building.
"So, we're saying to use your unit's address because what happens is if you get mail to the other address," he said. "Well, the [2nd Bn., 70th Armor Regt., 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div.] mail clerk doesn't know you because you're not in their unit … so, it gets returned to sender."
Westphal said Soldiers also need to in- and out-process through their mailroom to keep their information up-to-date.
"When they are assigned to a unit, one of the first things they need to do is in-process through their mailroom so we know they're there," he said. "They are supposed to because what happens is when they sign in, the mail clerk will input the Soldier's information in basically a worldwide locator. That is so if we do get a piece of mail that isn't addressed correctly, we can look them up in that locator and say 'oh, he's in the 101st.'
"And when they leave, they should be out-processing so they can input a forwarding address so any further pieces of mail that come in, clerks can look them up on the world-wide locator, and see 'oh, he transferred to Japan,'" Westphal said. "So, we can forward the mail to them."
Westphal said currently, mail clerks tasked with looking up a Soldier's address information or redirecting mail takes a large amount of time.
"Generally, there's four personnel, and they're doing about three to four hours in the afternoon of lookups and redirects -- and that's every day," he said. "So, we're trying to reduce those numbers, and I think by putting a unit in there, we can look right on the envelope and see he's in the 101st so that'll save time. Because otherwise, you have to type that guy's name in and wait for the computer to bring him up. So, yeah it takes a lot of man-hours to do the lookup so we're hoping that by putting out a standard format, we can reduce those numbers."
Pvt. Brandon Matthews, 2nd Bn., 70th Armor Regt., 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., said it is a big hassle with the mail rooms right now.
Matthews said there are times when mail is expected but does not come. He said he has resorted to using other people's addresses to get his mail.
"For me, it's a headache because I'm from Puerto Rico and so I'm basically overseas," he said. "Sometimes it comes to the mailroom but then they send it back because they say that it's a wrong address."