Peters & Colleagues Press DeJoy on USPS Operational Changes that Harm Deployed Servicemembers

USPS is the Only Mail Service That Can Deliver to Our Military Overseas

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined his colleagues in pressing Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on impact of harmful United States Postal Service (USPS) policy and operational changes to servicemembers and their families. The Postal Service is the only carrier that can deliver to the Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses used by our military overseas, which leaves deployed servicemembers and their families uniquely affected by DeJoy’s operational changes that have severely disrupting mail service. Active duty servicemembers who are deployed 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. Service members rely on USPS for the delivery of medicines, ballots, bills, and countless other pieces of vital mail,” the Senators wrote.

“Even more alarming is the reality that service members 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,” the Senators continued.

As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has fought to protect the Postal Service and its 245-year tradition of reliable, timely delivery. After pressing Chairman Ron Johnson, Peters, secured an oversight hearing to demand answers from Postmaster General DeJoy. Earlier this month, he launched an investigation into DeJoy’s operational changes and the slowdowns, delays and backlogs they are triggering in communities across the country after USPS provided misleading statements about the causes of the delays. Since launching his investigation, Peters has received more than 7,000 complaints from people in Michigan and across the country who have seen significant and harmful mail delays under DeJoy’s tenure. Peters has also pressed DeJoy on how these changes are preventing veterans from receiving their prescription medications through the Department of Veterans Affairs’ mail-order pharmacy service. Earlier this week, Peters introduced legislation to block the Postmaster General from making any changes that would disrupt service for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Peters also called on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors to immediately reverse changes made by DeJoy that degrade or delay postal operations and mail delivery.

The full text of today’s letter is available here and copied below.

August 20, 2020

Louis DeJoy
Postmaster General
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza West, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20260

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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