WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 16, 2006) - Military postal workers across the world are "making a list and checking it twice" to ensure Soldiers serving far from home receive packages in time for the holidays.

Mail is abundant November through December, and postal workers advise patrons sending packages overseas to obey official holiday mail-by deadlines to guarantee timely delivery.

According to statistics by the Joint Military Terminal, Kuwait, postal workers in the terminal's 10-post-office region processed approximately 2.5 million pounds of incoming and 3 million pounds of outgoing mail last November.

A similar workload is expected for 2006, with mail-by dates already having begun Nov. 13 for parcel post and extending to Dec. 4 through 19 for priority and express mail services.

For the convenience of spouses, friends and family members sending mail overseas, pre-addressed, printable, postage paid APO/FPO address labels are available at the U.S. Postal Service's Click-N-ShipA,A(R) Web site, and free packing materials are available at (800) 610-8734.

DOD mailing guidelines require use of the servicemember's full name (with or without rank or rating), return address, military organization or unit, APO/FPO address and the nine-digit ZIP code, if one is assigned.

Following these guidelines will get mail overseas sooner, giving Soldiers like Sgt. Normajean Pangelinan, who is currently serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, a taste of the holiday season.

"Holiday packages from home improve Soldier morale because we are constantly reminded that people are thinking of us," said Pangelinan. "Mail reminds us that Americans appreciate what we are doing and will continue to support us."

As for what to send, Command Sgt. Maj. James B. Roth, who served in Afghanistan with the XVIII Airborne Corps, offers a suggestion.

"It's not the cost of the item that counts; it's the thought. New socks, underwear, toiletries, batteries, telephone cards, books and holiday items are always welcome and greatly appreciated," he said.

Holiday items are fine, but postal officials say packages going to Iraq and Afghanistan may not include: pork or pork byproducts, alcoholic beverages, pornographic or sexually related items, or unauthorized political materials.

In addition, programs that once allowed the general public to send mail addressed to "Any Servicemember" no longer exist, and packages addressed as such will not reach their destination.

For a list of organizations that support servicemembers overseas with packages and letters, visit www.AmericaSupportsYou.com.

Patrons wanting their packages to arrive before Dec. 25 should mail packages 10 days earlier than suggested, according to postal officials.

The following shipping dates are recommended for military mail:

APO AE Zip 093

Parcel Post: Nov. 13
Space Available Mail: Nov. 27
Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 2
Priority Mail/First-Class Mail, Letter and Cards: Dec. 4
Express Mail Military Service: Not Available

APO AE Zips 090-092, 094-098; APO AA Zip 340; APO AP Zip 962-966

Parcel Post: Nov. 13
Space Available Mail: Nov. 27
Parcel Airlift Mail: Dec. 4
Priority Mail/First-Class Mail, Letter and Cards: Dec. 11
Express Mail Military Service: Dec. 19

For more information call the Military Postal Agency at (800) 810-6098 or (800) ASK-USPS.