PCSing Airmen get reimbursed for mailing goods

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- People permanently changing duty stations can mail personal belongings to their next base and get reimbursed for the cost -- providing they meet the requirements.

Servicemembers and civilian government employees who are in the process of a permanent-change-of-station move are allowed to ship specified amounts of personal property free of charge through their travel management offices. The amounts people are allowed to ship depends on their rank and the number of family members they have.

People can only mail personal goods in conjunction with PCS moves if they have not exceeded their allotted TMO shipment weight limit, said Staff Sgt. James Brown, RAF Mildenhall Traffic Management Office noncommissioned officer in charge of outbound personal property.

For example, if a person is allowed to ship 7,000 pounds of household goods and only ships 6,000 pounds, that individual can mail up to 1,000 pounds of goods and be reimbursed. Those who exceed their cap, however, will have to pay the difference in cost.

Also, TMO will only arrange reimbursement for mailed items up to the cost of regular household goods shipments. For instance, if it costs the government $75 per pound to ship household goods, but a person pays $90 per pound to mail items, they would only get reimbursed $75 per pound.

No matter how many packages are mailed, TMO will only provide a letter of reimbursement once, said Sergeant Brown, so members should only request reimbursement after everything has been mailed. All receipts must have the weight of mailed items on them.

People mailing goods should inform the post office at their gaining base of any inbound shipments. This is because base post offices cannot hold mail or packages for people of whom they have no record.

"If your going to send stuff in advance, let the post office know at the base you are going," said Staff Sgt. Greg Sartain, RAF Mildenhall Post Office. "If you don't, they won't know who you are, and they will send your stuff back."

To receive full reimbursement, people must ship their packages via basic mail. Special services, such as insurance and certified mail, cost extra and are not reimbursable.

"We treat the mail as best as we can. But, remember, it will be moved, carried and pushed along with thousands and thousands of other boxes," Sergeant Sartain said. "It's your stuff, so pack it in a manor that makes you feel it will be safe."

The post office only allows customers to send five boxes at a time -- unless patrons have an appointment with a member of the post office staff. People can send as many boxes as they wish if they have an appointment. They can also get help filling out customs forms and such. The post office needs at least one day notice to set up an appointment.

If there is a line of customers, the person will have to ship five boxes and then go to the end of the line and wait to ship the rest.

"Appointments allow customers to take their time and get the individual attention they need," Sergeant Sartain said. "Plus, it's not fair when a person comes in with 11 boxes, and all the person behind them wants to do is buy a stamp."

The RAF Mildenhall Post Office is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for package sending from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and for picking up packages from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is also open Thursdays for package sending from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for picking up packages from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is open Saturdays for package sending and picking up from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information or to set up an appointment, call the post office at 238-2151.