Please note:

This website was set up to get parcels to Australian Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Airwomen deployed overseas.

You are welcome to cut and paste information and use it to support sending parcels to our service members serving overseas, however, when you do cut and paste please link back to Ocean Sky & Khaki to acknowledge OSK, and so that people can find the blog themselves.

If there are questions one of us will answer if you comment on a post at the blog.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is the DOD stopping parcels?

Nilk, Boy and I have been sending out feelers to our contacts in the services or close to the military and trying to find out if there was any truth in the information we saw on another blog that the Department of Defence was telling people that the parcels could not be sent.

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:


Kae,

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:
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• 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

kind regards,
Ben
Ben Wickham
Public Affairs Officer
Public Affairs Operations Centre
Department of Defence
The reply:
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 3:28 PM
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,

Alan Price

(Alan Price)
President
4RAR Assoc, Qld
(Tas, NT, Intl)
There 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.

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.

28 comments:

Carpe Jugulum said...

This got a fair amount of coverage on 3AW about a week ago, either way it is outrageous of the Dept of Defence to even suppose that supporting out troops who will be away from family, friends and loved ones at this time of year is an impost on normal logistics, they are OUR servicemen & women and they deserve OUR support especially at this time of year.

I have emailed my Federal Member and as many MP's that i feel are sympathetic to this cause, either way i'll be in Japan in 3 weeks and am sending a parcel from there. (Wasabi corn chips - how cool is that)

kae said...

Hiya Carpe, Japan, huh? Lucky you!

If the DOD stops the parcels to "An Australian Soldier", I think there may be an "orchestrated campaign" of letterwriting and emailing to members of parliament, er, explaining the import of the parcels to diggers scheme.

Good Lord! We were thinking of trying to have the weight limit increased to 3 kg (some enthused about having one the same as the Canuks, 20kg 1mx1m parcels!!!)

Carpe Jugulum said...

Evening Kae;

I think our elected representatives fail to appreciate what even a small gesture like these parcels mean. Other countries actively encourage people to send parcels at this time of year to help morale, i find this current attitude a bit bewildering.

Yes, i'll be skiing at Hakuba with an occasional day trip to Nagano. It's tough but someone has to do it. (I stand by wasabi corn chips - very moorish)

Mine Host said...

Does this "Ben Wickham" work for Al-Qaeda, or for the Taliban?

He sure ain't working for Aussie Diggers.

His name is noted.

francarr said...

I have just made up two parcels to send, one to Afghanistan, one to Timor. Do I send them? I know that at least one of the five previous parcels I sent got there, because I received a beautiful letter from the young man who received it. But this news has just made me miserable, and hopping mad. Mr Rudd promised them a coffee machine-will they get that?

Fran

kae said...

Hi All
Keep sending, as far as I have been able to find out, any parcels not specifically addressed to a person, ie those addressed to "An Australian Soldier" will be delivered, just with a lower priority than those addressed to a person by name and number.

Anne @ AKA Mum said...

The DOD have now given some new addresses to 3AW for the Middle East, East Timor and the Solomon Islands: http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/blog-with-derryn-hinch/defence-department-plays-grinch/20091124-jfiz.html

I'm about to go and post my first parcel this afternoon, my sons (aged 3 and 4) are quite excited!

redtail said...

Yes I noticed this new address to, but it says for Christmas, does this mean only for Christmas or from then on! A bit confusing. So any thoughts would be good??(doesn't take much to confuse me!)
And I've got 2 more boxes almost ready to go.
I also read Timtams are a great batering tool. So as its still cool here(in WA), and cool over there I'm going to send a few, it also said they didn't care if they were melted they scraped every skerrick of chocolate of the packet.

kae said...

Hi Anne and redtail
I've emailed Deryn Hinch via his blog, but haven't heard anything back from him.
I've also emailed the President of 7RAR Association.

Kate said...

Yes, Ben Wickham does work for the DOD. And the reply is true! I'm sending my first parcels tomorrow regardless of what they are saying!

Pedro the Ignorant said...

Ben Wickham is a PR flack, a functionary, a useful person to put a signature to an email, a non-entity.
Do not direct your anger at Wickham, it is like shouting at the checkout chick at the supermarket because your food bill has gone up.
Shout at the Defence Minister, and the Minister for Defence Personnel (Combet).
Continue to send your parcels, they will get there, but do not bother with Christmas stuff, it will probably be too late.
The Ex Service Organisations (ESO's) are raising hell over this decision, (except, strangely, the RSL) but it never hurts to add your raucous voice to the multitudes howling at the penny pinching politicians.
I suggested via email that the relevant Ministers might like to travel economy class over the holidays and donate the fare difference to the RAAF to put on another cargo plane to Afghanistan.
As expected, frosty silence.
No wonder most of the military detest politicians.

Keep up the good work, folks, I know the Diggers appreciate your thoughts and goodies.

kae said...

Hi Pedro
The best thing you can get from sending these little parcels from home is a thank you - though sometimes that's not possible.

Because it's Christmas I guess the cargo being carried over to our troops of all colours (Ocean, Sky and Khaki) is probably turkey and other festive goodies for them to enjoy... and that's what the planes are full of.

Gregoryno6 said...

Have you thought about passing this story to Blair and Bolt? Or Vexnews?
They might provoke a clarification, ie, hasty backflip.

kae said...

Hi G6
We haven't approached Bolt or Blair, we're trying to find out what's going on.
Apparently in SA (Derryn Hinch) there's been some publicity about it.
We are not in cahoots with the DOD (not endorsed, see under the title), but we've had our feelers out about it... still not sure about those Christmas Mail addresses, I don't know why they need different addresses.
I've been thinking of contacting my local RAAF padre and asking if he can help clarify matters, there's been an email from the Pres of the 4RAR Association, and I've emailed 7RAR Association Pres. We've contacted our serving contacts and there's been nothing in the orders.

Gregoryno6 said...

Some seat-polishing DOD bureaucrat has decided that getting parcels to the troops is too much like hard work... for him.
Well, my parcels will be more about calendars than Christmas specifically. I can leave shipping until early January. Still, this has a stink about it.

dave said...

I just sent mine today to AFPO 60... hopefully it gets through, will let you know if I hear anything back

Lauren said...

I got an email today from a soldier.. my parcel got through on the regular address!!

redtail said...

Oh Good!! As I just sent off two more to that address as well.

Chistery said...

I also got an email today from a soldier in Afghanistan so the address on this site is still working. Here is the email...

Thank you so much for your care package, I have just had a cappuccino, fantastic, the coffee over here is less than desirable, and those instant coffees are like Gold Dust. Thank you for your thoughts and your prayers, it makes being here so worth while when we have a grateful nation behind us. I am from a Communication unit in Afghanistan and the Care packs that everyone received brought a smile to all their faces, the letters and pictures just makes us reminisce on how lucky we are to be Aussies. I have attached a photo of our team. hope you have the best New Year.

redtail said...

I just got a letter from a soldier to say thanks, for one of the Christmas packages I sent, so I'm glad they are getting throught to the address I'm sending.
One thing he really loved were the wet wipes!!!! So I'll be sending a few more in the packages from now on.

kae said...

Hi Chistery, sorry about the tardy reply!
Did your thank you outline any more items which are gold or good?

Thanks Redtail!
Wipes are a must.
My Godchild said that the dust in Kabul is unbelievable.

Chistery said...

Kae,

No, that was the whole email. I got another thank you but the Sgt didn't tell me any favourites. The coffee referred to are the ones that have the coffee, sugar, and powdered milk in the one package. You can get instant cappucino, mocha and other flavours.

redtail said...

My guy said that all the guys enjoyed reading the books I sent they were "the darwin awards".
He also said the lollies were gone in a flash. I gues anything we send is appreciated, especially our good wishes, as he said
"It may not mean much to other people but to us over here in Afghanistan it's pretty nice to know that someone we have never met, is proud of the job we are doing over here and is standing behind us"
I really was touched to get a letter, as he had just got back from a 3 week mission.

Gregoryno6 said...

I sent my first five this week. And what a pleasant surprise when the lady at the local post office knew all about the under 2kg rule.
There must be a few others in my neighbourhood looking after the troops.

Carpe Jugulum said...

Sent one off from Japan, yes, wasabi doritos were a must plus, pochy (chocolates), chibi dolls (For local kids), manga (comics) & a few other odds & sods.

Whoever opens it is in for a WTF moment.

Anonymous said...

I've been sending three packages a week since one of the patients at the hospital where I work, told me about sending Care Packages a few months ago.

This was also just sent to me by a friend who I encouraged to sent parcels:

http://www.defence.gov.au/opEx/global/opslipper/images/gallery/2010/0112a/index.htm

looks like the Packages are getting through and i see noting but smiles on those faces.

Gregoryno6 said...

That's a great collection of photos, Anon.

rebeccaweir said...

It is great to see that the parcels are getting through :)

I'm a follower of this Blog, but I've had a blonde spasm and cannot remember my sign-on details. :(

My first Care Package for the year is to go out later this week.