Postal changes concern troops charity
The U.S. Postal Service has reformed overseas shipping guidelines and has reduced its mail delivery schedule to five days a week in order to create a more financially efficient postal system.
Local businesses and nonprofit groups, such as Operation Interdependence, say they will absorb financial hits as a result.
Operation Interdependence in Grand Junction sends up to 25,000 troops each year boxes filled with civilian rations (C-Rats), toiletries, snacks and other items.
National President Karon Carley is worried that the new guidelines affect the number of boxes shipped and could lower the number of troops receiving C-Rats, resulting in depleted morale.
Because the USPS is the only organization approved by the federal government to ship packages to troops overseas, nonprofits like Operation Interdependence must adhere to their new rates and guidelines.
“New postal rates and changes in the way people ship are causing a ripple effect, crippling some local nonprofits who use the USPS as part of their mission,” said Carley. “These new regulations are being dictated and passed to the small nonprofit groups, like OI, hitting us squarely in the pocket and forcing major changes in shipping procedures just to comply.”
Starting the week of Aug. 5, package delivery will continue Monday through Saturday, while mail delivery to street addresses will occur Monday through Friday. The changes are expected to generate $2 billion in savings annually.
Operation Interdependence could fit 50 C-Rats in a 12-inch by 12-inch box. With the new 12-inch by 5 1/2-inch boxes, the organization can only fit 25 C-Rats and must send twice as many boxes, costing the organization more money.
Despite the hardships some groups are facing, the Postal Service supports the sizing and pricing of flat-rate boxes.
“Our prices must change every year in accordance with the Consumer Price Index and our competition. It isn’t just to cover financial deficit, we are also governed by constricting price mechanisms,” USPS spokesman David Rupert said.
The large flat-rate boxes used by Operation Interdependence also are available to the public. The boxes are provided free of charge, and cost $13.30 to ship. The USPS offers a two-dollar discount for boxes shipped to APO and FPO addresses overseas.
“The flat rate boxes we provide are a great deal, especially because they are given out for free,” said Rupert, a former Air Force service member. “We think it’s great the kind of work groups like Operation Interdependence do for our military troops. We applaud them and their C-Rats idea.”
Carley explained that small organizations like hers will have to make changes to survive.
“Large, well-established groups like the USO probably receive grant money and will most likely weather this storm, making necessary adjustments with little interruptions. Small grassroots support groups like OI don’t have huge budgets to compete and will have to make major changes in order to survive,” she said.