August 25, 2020

Senator Hassan, Colleagues Raise Concerns Over Impact of Postal Service Changes on Deployed Service Members

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee which oversees the United States Postal Service (USPS), joined her colleagues in raising concerns about how Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s harmful changes are disproportionately impacting service members and their families. The letter to Postmaster General DeJoy was led by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

 

The changes that the Postmaster General made to long-standing Postal Service operations is slowing mail delivery for all Americans, but they have especially impacted service members. The Postal Service is the only service that can deliver to the Army Post Office and Fleet Post Office addresses, which are used by deployed service members and military families stationed overseas. Active duty service members who are stationed away from home domestically also rely heavily on USPS to vote, pay their bills, receive packages, and stay in touch with family members and loved ones.

 

“This population of Americans is disproportionately affected by any actions that restrict or delay the mail, which is sometimes the only reliable connection they have with loved ones during their military service. Servicemembers rely on USPS for the delivery of medicines, ballots, bills, and countless other pieces of vital mail,” the Senators wrote.

 

The Senators continued, “Even more alarming is the reality that servicemembers depend on the mail to exercise their most important rights as American citizens: the right to vote. Absentee ballots are the only way that most of the military community can use their constitutionally protected right to cast a ballot. Making absentee voting more difficult disenfranchises the very Americans who serve and sacrifice on the front lines in defense of our right to vote and live in a democratic society – a cruel irony to our men and women in uniform that must be remedied immediately.”

 

Senator Hassan is working to protect the USPS, its customers, and its employees against attacks from the Trump administration. This week, she joined her colleagues in calling on the newly-appointed Postmaster General to testify before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in an effort to conduct vital oversight of his mishandling of the agency in recent weeks. The Committee hearing will be tomorrow at 9 AM.

 

Senator Hassan also recently led the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation in calling for answers on mail delivery concerns that they have heard about from Granite Staters. Senator Hassan previously called on the Postmaster General to answer for the changes to long-standing operations at the Postal Service, including demanding immediate action following reports of significant delays in veterans’ prescription medications. Additionally, Senator Hassan has repeatedly called for additional funding to support the U.S. Postal Service in the next COVID-19 relief package.

 

The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here and copied below.

 

Dear Mr. DeJoy:

 

As it has become more obvious that your oversight of the postal service is severely distressing the domestic mail system, we urge you to consider the impact of your recent changes to United States Postal Service (USPS) policy and operations on the 1.3 million servicemembers and their families who serve both domestically and overseas. USPS is the only service that can deliver to the Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses used by our military overseas. While your recent suspension of operational changes is a necessary first step and needed course correction, it is insufficient and unclear that this suspension will mitigate the damage that has already been done to the postal system, and prevent the disruption and harm to Americans who serve our nation in uniform. We are also concerned that your statements regarding suspension of these changes are not actually being carried out.

 

Since your appointment as Postmaster General, you have implemented many harmful operational and policy changes that have already resulted in mail being delayed in many areas by weeks. Reports of hiring freezes, scheduling and route changes, reshuffling of leadership, decommissioning and removal of mail-sorting machines, and other reorganization of operations have left a once proud and efficient system intentionally hamstrung and severely strained. In fact, USPS recently sent detailed letters to 46 states warning that it cannot guarantee that all mail-in ballots will arrive in time to be counted.

 

Your changes have also had a direct impact on deployed servicemembers who rely on USPS as the only avenue to deliver mail from the United States to the APO & FPO addresses used by our military overseas. This population of Americans is disproportionately affected by any actions that restrict or delay the mail, which is sometimes the only reliable connection they have with loved ones during their military service. Servicemembers and their families who are stationed overseas for months and years at a time also depend on the USPS, as do military families who are stationed domestically, but away from their home of record. Servicemembers rely on USPS for the delivery of medicines, ballots, bills, and countless other pieces of vital mail.  There are virtually no members of the military who will be unaffected by these changes, which will negatively impact their quality of life and hamper their ability to communicate with their family members and loved ones – ultimately hindering military readiness.

 

Even more alarming is the reality that servicemembers depend on the mail to exercise their most important rights as American citizens: the right to vote. Absentee ballots are the only way that most of the military community can use their constitutionally protected right to cast a ballot. Making absentee voting more difficult disenfranchises the very Americans who serve and sacrifice on the front lines in defense of our right to vote and live in a democratic society – a cruel irony to our men and women in uniform that must be remedied immediately.

 

We urge the White House and all Trump Administration officials to reconsider their opposition to necessary stimulus funding for the USPS during this COVID-19 pandemic. The Heroes Act, which was passed by the House in May, would provide $25 billion to the USPS and we must immediately pass this critical funding need.

 

The USPS is a public service that is critical to all American citizens, particularly our military. They are depending on us to provide this vital service, and we stand ready to protect it at all costs.

 

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