New postal service guidelines hurt military support groups

President and Area Manager of Operation Interdependence Karon Carley packs a C-Rat for the troops overseas. Operation Interdependence helps over 2,500 service members each year.

The United States 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.

While the new guidelines may support the USPS financially, local businesses and nonprofits, such as Operation Interdependence, are absorbing financial hits of their own.
Operation Interdependence in Grand Junction sends up to 25,000 troops each year boxes filled with civilian rations (C-Rats) that include toiletries, snacks and other luxury 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.

Since the USPS is the only organization consented by the federal government to ship packages to troops overseas, non-profit organizations 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 non-profits who use the USPS as part of their mission,” said Carley. “These new regulations are being dictated and passed to the small non-profit 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, they 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,” said David Rupert, USPS manager of western area corporate communications.

The large flat rate boxes used by Operation Interdependence are also 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 grass roots support groups like OI don’t have huge budgets to compete and will have to make major changes in order to survive,” she said.

In the meantime, Carley will continue to pack and ship boxes as long as she can. The next packing event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at 2944 I—70 B, Unit 206.


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