Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) cut the ribbon for the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community mailroom July 15. The CMR is in the basement of the education center, which is in Bldg. 417. Photo by Sgt. Austin Boucher

Ribbon cut for joint base community mailroom

Although the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community mailroom officially opened in February, the ribbon cutting was done July 15 in Bldg. 417, to comply with COVID restrictions.

Susan Mitchell, the chief of administrative services, said the primary mission of the CMR is to provide a secure mailing facility for the Soldiers who live in the barracks.

Prior to the mailroom opening, Mitchell said Soldiers used to have old-fashioned mail call in their units. Each company used to train mail clerks, and they would go to a central location that was run by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment S-1. That mail was sorted and then each company would pick up their mail.

“Not having a community mailroom also presented a problem with private carriers such as Amazon, UPS or FedEx,” said Mitchell. “Now, all of our carriers have one location to drop off (mail) and everything is done out of that central location such as packages, registered, certified (and) regular mail. Every Soldier (now) has a mailbox assigned to (him or her) like a (post office) box (and) it doesn’t cost them any money.”

Mitchell added that the only thing that’s not done at the CMR is metering outbound mail. Soldiers can mail outbound mail but it has to have postage on it.

After being on Fort Myer for about a year, Mitchell said there was an attempt to have the United States Postal Service deliver mail but there were a few issues. The main problem was having the correct address. She said the regimental first sergeants provided Soldiers with the wrong address. She said the Soldiers were using the building number and the street as their address but that was incorrect because those address did not exist. Having the CMR got rid of that problem.

“I would say 80% of the mail that came in was misaddressed,” she said. “Once we switched to the CMR, the address for everyone is the same except for their box number. Therefore, that really simplified the problem and corrected (the problem). I would say now we are in the neighborhood where about 70% of the mail coming in is addressed correctly. The other 30% we are still working on and that’s letter mail (such) as items from their banks (or) insurance companies.”

Mitchell said that issue stems from Soldiers forgetting to fill out a change of address because they are conducting business online and some are probably forgetting about the hard copy bills that are being mailed to them.

“We tell them you have two months from the time when you get a mailbox assigned (to change your address), said Mitchell.

If Soldiers fail to change their address, Mitchell said the mail will go back to the sender.

“The first time a package goes back that will never happen again,” she said. “That will prompt them (to make a change of address).”

Mitchell added that when the mailroom is closed packages could still be dropped off in a secure drop box instead of leaving them in a hallway. 

Mitchell pointed out that the CMR has several safety measures in place. She said it’s on a separate ventilation system, which means in the case of a contamination, they can shut down the ventilation so the rest of the building is not affected.

“It also has reinforced walls and doors to not only prevent penetration but in the event of a small explosion to limit the damage to other parts of the structure,” said Mitchell.

The CMR is a joint venture. The joint base takes care of the facility and TOG is responsible for operating it.

“I am responsible for training and inspecting them,” said Mitchell. “This has really improved the situation for Soldiers receiving their personal mail on the installation. Now TOG has dedicated people (working in the mailroom). There is more oversight and leadership (in the mailroom).”

Pentagram editor Catrina Francis can be reached at catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil.

By Catrina Francis

Pentagram Editor