With hundreds of thousands of troops in the Persian Gulf region or on their way, mail handlers at military installations across the United States are overwhelmed by mail.
Fort Dix receives more than 2,400 packages and letters a day, said Charlotte Gentner, civilian installation mail manager at the South Jersey fort's main distribution center. Much of the mail arrives while Army units are training at the fort before heading overseas. The rest must be forwarded.
"The workload here has more than tripled," said Gentner, of Northeast Philadelphia, who has worked at the facility for four years. "We have totally run out of space."
Letters and packages have filled up the main mail-handling room, and packages are stacked up in three smaller offices. They await processing by Gentner, mail handler Bob Kane of Mount Laurel, and occasional military helpers.
In addition to their regular on-post customers, they now serve about 90 military units that can pass through Fort Dix at any given time.
"We have to X-ray everything that comes in," Gentner said. "We have not found prohibited items - just a lot of cookies and baked goods."
If you don't know whether something you want to send is prohibited, you can check with your local post office.
Gentner said the packages and letters were a lifeline to soldiers.
"They are extremely important to the soldiers," she said. "They are links to loved ones. So I feel good about what I do."
Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or email@example.com.
Writing to 'Any Service Member'
The U.S. Postal Service stopped accepting mail addressed to "Any Service Member" in 2001 after mail was contaminated with anthrax. But troops can be e-mailed by using one of these Web sites: