We need to get to the bottom of who is telling people not to send parcels because we KNOW that recipients appreciate them very much.
Late last Saturday night in the "What to send/What not to send" post we received the following comment:
A copy of an email sent from the ADF Public Affairs and the reply form the President of the 4 RAR Association - have excluded email addresses and phone numbers but if you would like them for verification let me know.With regard to the e-mails circulating, asking people to send care packages to Afghanistan I can provide you with the following information:
• Thank you for your consideration and support for ADF members serving overseas over the Christmas period, but for a number of logistic management and security reasons, we would prefer that you do not encourage your readers to send “care packages” to deployment service men and women.
• Mail that is sent via Defence postal arrangements is restricted to official military and personal mail only, and must not be used for any other material.
• Defence postal services utilise the same air transport resources used for the movement of vital stores and equipment in support of ADF operations. The movement of large volumes of mail have the potential to affect the transportation of important stores and equipment needed for the safety, security and continued operational success of our people.
• Humanitarian Aid, which attracts normal international rates of postage, is not authorised to be sent through the Defence Postal Service. There is no entitlement, or requirement for Humanitarian Aid to be sent to Australian Service personnel
Public Affairs Officer
Public Affairs Operations Centre
Department of Defence
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:28 PMThere have been no orders promulgated regarding this cessation of care packages. We will keep you informed, and we ask if you hear anything like this you let us know and also let us know where you have heard this information so that we can follow it up and check whether it is true or not.
Subject: Care packages
Dear Mr Wickham,
Reference: Your email shown below my reply. (In this case email number 2)
With the greatest respect, your preferences or the preferences of the Department of Defence, Public Affairs Operations Office really do not matter in this instance. What matters is the welfare and morale of our Aussie Diggers serving overseas in conditions that you or I can only imagine. Have you ever served overseas during Christmas, New Year, Australia day, April Fools Day, your own birthday, your family birthdays and anniversaries and not being able to share them with your families. Have you ever seen the looks on the faces of the Diggers when they receive a parcel from home? Have you ever experienced the joy of opening a parcel from someone not known to you but who has taken the time and effort to show that they care about you and respect you for the terrific task that you are doing on behalf of the Australian people and the Australian Government?
I can only assume from the cold heartedness of your reply that you have not!
Defence postal arrangements are not merely for official mail but have the nominated job and the responsibilty of ensuring that all mail addressed to all soldiers either by name or not, is delivered.
The first essence of mail is to receive news from home so that what you are doing on operations makes sense. The second essence of mail is to ensure that the famllies of soldiers are doing OK under extreme circumstances. The third essence of mail is maintain the morale of soldiers by the receiving and sending of mail. The fourth essence of mail is to ensure that soldiers who do not normally receive mail, do.
Have you forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and the punch a postie campaign and the soldiers who perhaps did not perform as well as expected simply because they did not receive mail and they felt as if they did not belong. Have you considered the experience of the platoon sergeant and section 2ICs whose duty it is to hand out the mail and by their observance of who and who was not receiving mail, were able to identify those that might develop morale problems. Your argument is scary at the least.
The movement of large volumes of mail must be included in the planning, movement and delivery of logistic support. Mail must be considered as logistical stores vital to the war effort and should be the first priority in serving the soldier and just as important as beans and bullets. The normal priority resupply system in the field includes in one package, beans, bullets and mail. If it doesn't then the ADF is in big trouble. If it is considered that mail will adversly affect the stores, security and continued success of our people (I am sure that you meant to say"warriors" here) then consider this. Consider the warrior that does not get mail, that is forgotten at Christmas when all around him are opening up parcels from family and he has to read the letters received from the families of other soldiers to make him feel wanted and appreciated. He will not look after his stores, he will not attend to security and he will not care about success, why should he? He has been deserted by those who swore to look after him, his superiors!
Mail is not humanitarian aid, this is called respecting, thanking and appreciating the warrior, male or female, in whatever service or corps, in whatever rank and in whatever job, for his service to his country and to the people of Australia by ensuring that he is able to receive mail and to send mail and to ensure that he can, by receiving and sending mail ensure that he can gain a sense of normality about his life so far away from home.
My request on behalf of all our members and families is that you stand up, walk over to mirror, forgive yourself for this most inappropriate decision and email and then kick down the door of your immediate superior, any General will do, and demand a different reply; one that applies logic, compassion, respect and adulation for our warriors serving overseas and then ensure through your department that if necessay, more aircraft, ships or carrier pigeons are allocated to delivering of the mail and the intended care packages to our warriors with the utmost speed and consideration.
Yours sincerley but disappointedly,
4RAR Assoc, Qld
(Tas, NT, Intl)
If the DOD has decided that the activities of Australian Citizens sending packages, showing their support of our military personnel who have been sent far from home to carry out their duties in foreign lands, should cease, we will find another way to get the parcels to our diggers. It is my very strong hope that it will not come to that.