Mail service to military bases or diplomatic posts abroad might not look like “mail call” of yore, but it can have the same effect: It boosts morale. High-quality mail service provides a valuable link between loved ones at home and those serving our country afar.

The U.S. Postal Service partners with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of State (DoS) to deliver mail to domestic and overseas military facilities, as well as to overseas DoS personnel. Most international military and diplomatic mail arrives at the Chicago International Service Center (ISC), with outbound mail processed by the Chicago International Military Service Center (CIMSC) section of the facility. Inbound mail is sent to other processing facilities.

Outbound mail is then transported to the foreign destination, where it is eventually tendered to either DoD or DoS officials, who then handle subsequent sorting and delivery.

Unfortunately, the Postal Service is falling short in providing service, our recent audit report found. Military and diplomatic outbound mail processed at the Chicago CIMSC was delayed in 2018 and 2019 for a few reasons. Notably, mail arrived late to the CIMSC, and there were hold-ups in both accepting and processing mail at the CIMSC. We also determined that staff errors in labeling mail sacks resulted in mail being sent to the wrong destination and certain operations led to broken or damaged packages.

Ultimately, ineffective oversight of operations at the facilities was the cause of many of the problems. We recommended the Postal Service evaluate a process for scanning individual pieces to larger containers and then determine a method for using the scan data to measure time between acceptance and departure. The Postal Service agreed with our recommendations and has started corrective actions.

What are your views of recent military and diplomatic mail service – have you noticed improvements?  

Comments (3)

  • anon

    Mailed a package to my son in the Air Force to his APO address on December 15, 2019. It never arrived. After lengthy discussions with the USPS, they found it was still in Chicago waiting to be sent. A case number was filed and on March 17, they emailed me and said the package was on its way. Today is July 21, 2020 and my son still has not received the package. The items were childhood memorabilia that can not be replaced. Upon calling the post office again, they now do not even have the original tracking number in their system so I cant even get the insurance for the lost package :(

    Jul 21, 2020
  • anon

    I think that ALL mail to & from our military should be provided for free. I have a friend with a loved one serving & it was almost $70 to ship coffee & other treats. It costs more to send than what’s in the box!!! I don’t understand why we cannot do more to make every day communications easier for those serving overseas. I know it’s possible & I'm going to do my best to get it done.

    Aug 31, 2019
  • anon

    When the APO was downtown NY, the employees showed their pride, & skills insuring every letter, package, parcel & card reaches the deployed service member. Working APO meant working for those deployed, those helping us, protecting us. Those who make us proud.

    Aug 26, 2019

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