- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

Last year the APO function was moved from the DoD to the State Department. Shortly after that, the State Department canceled mail privileges for all military retirees. This was done without any explanation. By canceling this mailing privilege, it prevents TRICARE Pharmacy from shipping medications to those retired military personnel that live overseas. TRICARE will not ship to foreign addresses.

I have written my Senators and Congresswomen, but never received an explanation nor reply. If this was done for cost savings, why not allow us to pay a small monthly postal fee to offset the cost. By the way, the cost is minimal since retirees have a restriction of less than 16 ounces per envelope or package.

I would appreciate anything you can do to clarify this.

Thank You,
Brendan B
USAF, Ret.
Quito, Ecuador

Dear Brendan,

My sources provided the following information in a question-and-answer format that should be helpful concerning the issue of Department of State (DoS) Mail Services to Military Retirees and Employees of DoD Contractors.

Q: Why cant I continue to receive my mail at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

A: These postal facilities now are Department of State (DoS) run and funded. The DoS has previously informed the DoD that it will not continue to provide mail services for military retirees and employees of DoD contractors at postal facilities located at embassies or consulates without reimbursement from DoD. It was determined that there is no legal authority for the DoD to reimburse DoS for these services.

Q: Why was DoD able to provide mail services to military retirees and employees of DoD contractors at DoS facilities in the past and now is unable to provide these same services?

A: These postal facility operations now are DoS run and funded. When DoD historically operated and funded postal operations at embassies, it was able to provide limited mail services at those facilities to retirees on space-available basis because it could absorb the added operational costs (just as it does at overseas military installations). DoD no longer has the ability to internally absorb these additive marginal costs at embassies because it no longer funds the operation of those facilities and does not have any ability to transfer funds to DoS for a service that isn’t being provided to or for DoD.

Q: When will my mail service end?

A: Mail service at the DoS embassy or consulate ended on Dec. 31, 2009.

Q: When was the decision to transition the responsibility from DoD to DoS?

A: The decision was made in 2006 to begin transitioning responsibility as DoS was already providing mail services to DoD employees and military retirees. Recently, the DoS requested reimbursement for military retiree mail services. However, it was determined that there is no legal authority for DoD to reimburse DoS for these services.

Q: What should I do to continue to receive my mail from CONUS?

A: You should complete a change of address form and return it to the post office located at the Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. Additionally, you should immediately notify family, friends, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), businesses, magazines subscriptions, etc., of your new, international mailing address.

Further information is available at http://hqdainet.army.mil/mpsa/RetireeMail_FAQ.pdf

Shaft notes

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. presented its 2010 Congressional Award to Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) for his outstanding service to national defense, homeland security, and to veterans, service members and their families. The presentation took place Monday during the recent opening session of the annual VFW Legislative Conference at the Hyatt Regency in nearby Crystal City.

The VFW Congressional Award has been presented annually since 1964 to one member of the House or Senate for significant legislative contributions on behalf of veterans and military service personnel.

Mr. Skelton chairs the powerful House Armed Services Committee, and he has been a staunch advocate of America’s military, her veterans, and their families throughout his 17 terms in Congress. He hails from Lexington, Mo., and his family was close friends with a local World War I veteran and VFW member by the name of Harry S. Truman, who was a county judge at the time. Young Ike would go on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, an associate’s degree from Wentworth Military Academy, and a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Missouri. Prior to running for Congress in 1977, he was a member of the Missouri State Senate, as well as a prosecuting attorney and special assistant attorney general.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, DC 20035-5900; fax: 301/622-3330; call: 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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