In the Benelux, “the mail raises morale” | Item
BRUNSSUM, Netherlands – âThis is the time of year we live for,â said Josh Alo, US Army postmaster Garrison Benelux – Brussels. “Even in the digital age where so much is online, it’s the little pieces of the house that keep us connected to each other.”
Across the USAG Benelux, team members and volunteers are working to meet the demands of both the holiday season and the ongoing pandemic.
âLast year we had a 20% increase in the volume of mail we handled, and that has been held up due to online shopping and the ever-changing COVID-19 metrics that are shaping how we let’s get our goods, âAlo said. âSo we’re definitely busy! “
âIt’s a fair day’s work,â said Alan Boswell, postmaster at USAG Benelux-Brunssum in the Netherlands. âIt’s hard work, but in the end we have accomplished something right, something where they (every employee) can come home and hold their heads up knowing that they have helped people receive. their mail.
âBeing able to take care of friends and family in this way is a good thing! Boswell continued.
The postal service centers operate at four physical sites across the Benelux: the air base in ChiÃ¨vres, Brussels and SHAPE in Belgium and Brunssum in the Netherlands. The Brunssum site also makes weekly calls by post to the APS-DÃ¼lmen. Their mission extends beyond the walls as part of a larger transportation network.
âOur combined efforts help support embassies, NATO, port operations and ensure that mail for you personally and officially is accessible,â Alo said.
USAG Benelux postal service centers support around 5,000 customers and 139 official units. And at the time of this article’s publication, this holiday season, postal service centers in the Benelux have received and processed 11,779 items weighing 67,848 kilograms, or the equivalent of nearly 150,000 pounds of mail.
âI’ve seen a lot of changes from the start since we didn’t have computers and everything was handwritten,â said Wes Cook, postmaster at SHAPE. âStill, everything is still the same, it’s just handled differently and we don’t use a lot of ink anymore. It’s computerized now.
âWhat you see at the customer service counter for retail services is a small part of what our teams do every day,â said Alo. âIf you were to pull the curtain, there would be a lot to do in processing the mail. “
Alo, Boswell and Cook collectively explained that the rigors of the postal service include regular mandatory training and daily electronic documentation, inspections, accounting procedures, customer service and the physical aspect of mail processing, unloading of mail. trucks to scanning, sorting, delivering and receiving items from customers. and prepare outgoing shipments. Every step and function requires careful attention to detail, precision, endurance, and most importantly, enthusiasm.
Postal workers are not allowed to take time off during the holiday season, they answer the call to serve, and holidays are suspended for everyone until January.
âI’m used to this arrangement during the holiday season,â said Boswell. âI left the military in 1993 and a few months later, ironically enough, I started as a seasonal employee, and now I’m the postmaster.
âWe are here to help you,â he continued. âWe are proud of our ability to deliver 100% of packages this season. “
The new internal tracking technology deployed this summer has improved postal operations. However, with each site processing between 500 and 3000 submissions per day, errors can occur.
âWe deliver thousands of pieces of mail a week, but that piece that a customer says they don’t have or couldn’t find, we go through our files and our shelves with a fine tooth comb to find it,â said Boswell. “We take it personally and don’t sleep until we can fix the problem.”
âIt’s so easy to make a single mistake that we have to have a quality control system in place to verify each other’s work and that helps tremendously,â Cook said.
Having served in the armed forces before taking up their current positions, they know first-hand the importance of mail to service members and their families posted away from home.
âCustomers come to the post office to see if they have mail and when they do it multiple times, they respond enthusiastically, whether it is a parcel, letter or card. Alo said. “It means so much and that’s why we do what we do.”
“I recently received a card for my birthday, and it was the best thing of my life!” Alo continued. âWe do so much on technology, which is great, but the tangible effort that comes from the physical mail pieces is different. Someone took the time to buy a card and a stamp, write a note and mail it to meâ¦ and our clients, our soldiers and their families, the same goes for them.
âWe not only deliver the mail, but we also have responsibility for what customers bring to us and making sure it gets to its destination,â said Boswell. “We know how difficult it is, especially with all the COVID measures, the separation, the mail is a way for people to go online and send something home.”
Even with the demands of the season and the pandemic, the team continues to enjoy a little lightness that comes from time to time with postal trucks.
âIn the early days of COVID, when stores were only giving you a limited number of baskets, someone actually ordered a basket that arrived on our truck,â Cook said. “I don’t know if they kept it, but it was funny.”
And the teams appreciate the generosity of community members.
âCustomers bring us goodies, cookies and cakes all year round and before the holidays,â said Shawn Mestres, supervisor of postal operations at ChiÃ¨vres Air Base. âIt is not necessary but it is very appreciated.
Mestres explained in the last week before Christmas that there was an even bigger push internally to ensure all possible mail was sent to customers in time to have gifts under the tree.
âWe are here to help our community,â Mestres said. “And to see the smiles when you deliver a package even if someone is having a bad day, you give them the mail or a package, they always smile!”
âSummary,â Alo said, âmail equals morale! “
The team also offered some tips and reminders to help the community.
âWhen people are notified that they have mail, it is essential to collect your packages; it gets things done, âAlo said. “And that helps us help other customers and get things to you as quickly as possible.”
âIf we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t ask for it,â Boswell said, referring to customs and shipping forms. âSometimes people don’t like the systems that we have to use and it can be difficult sometimes, but we will walk with them to solve the problem or problem, you just have to ask. “
Boswell also recommended making an appointment in case customers have five or more packages to mail.
âPlease call the post office at your location for VIP services and an appointment,â Boswell said. “We are focused on you!”
And by way of conclusion, everyone reminds the community that December 24 and 31 are federal holidays this year. With the exception of the Center de services postaux 79 in Brussels, which is open for parcel pick-up only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 24, the postal service centers will be closed and everyone is encouraged to go before or after for all. your vacation postal needs.
This holiday season will be Cook’s last job for USAG Benelux. After nearly 33 years of postal service at SHAPE, he is retiring at the end of this month.