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Sending charitable donations via MPS prohibited

Author: Tech. Sgt. Kirk Baldwin
Source: AF Times (Tuesday, May 24, 2005)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFPN) -- Each year, the Department of Defense plays a huge role in delivering relief supplies and assisting in relief operations worldwide. For people overseas who want to contribute, the problem is getting the package where it needs to be.

However, the military postal service is not an option, said U.S. Air Forces in Europe postal officials. Sending charitable contributions through Air Mobility Command or through the MPS is prohibited.

In Europe, organizations within the command raised money and supplies for the victims of the recent tsunami. The only problem was getting the items to the victims without using the military postal system, said Mr Haacker, USAFE's postal functional area manager.

"These commendable efforts and the spirit behind them are extremely noteworthy," Mr. Haacker said. "However, when the charity includes sending donations via mail, we must stop and follow the authorized delivery methods."

The Department of Defense is prohibited by law to provide airlift to non-DOD activities, said Robert Eichholz of the Air Force director of communications operations office.

This means organizations and people authorized to use MPS cannot serve as intermediaries for any person or organization not specifically authorized such service.

Just because there is postage on a package or it is being sent through the MPS does not mean the mailing is paid for, Mr. Haacker said. The postage applied to mailings only applies to movement while in the possession of the U.S. Postal Service.

"A 20-pound box going to Chicago will cost (about) $25 in postage," he said. "That postage defrays transportation costs from the gateway at New York to Chicago. All remaining transportation costs from a military base to New York are at DOD expense."

DOD spends more than $73 million moving mail between U.S. gateways and military locations worldwide every year, Mr. Eichholz said.

"The most expensive is movement to Southwest Asia in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom," he said. "Lack of commercial lift in the theater reduces the commercial mail potential.

"Because of that, we must buy contract airlift from companies that are operating in that area," he said. "This is a very expensive option. A round-trip cargo flight between New York and Kuwait costs the DOD (about) $395,000 per flight."

Items mailed in the MPS also cost DOD, Mr. Haacker said. For example, if 2,000 pounds of goods were shipped by the MPS via Air Mobility Command from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Bagram AB, Afghanistan, the bill from AMC would be more than $7,000.

"No one moves anything for free," Mr. Haacker said. "For this reason, only authorized personnel may use the MPS. Any other use could be considered misuse of taxpayer dollars.

"American people have a great spirit of giving when the need arises, and military personnel are no exception to this rule," he said. "The most important thing to remember is that convoy size increases as the demand on the system and mail volumes grow. This places more service members on the road and in harm's way." (Property of USAFE News Service)


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Page added on: 28 May 2005