Postal officials: Mail to troops early

Troops stationed overseas look forward to getting letters or packages from home, especially during the holiday season.

New Jersey postal officials are therefore encouraging military families and friends who plan to send packages and letters to servicemen and servicewomen overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan or elsewhere, to mail early. Mailing packages well in advance will make sure that they reach their destination in time for the holidays, according to a United States Postal Service press release.

To ensure that letters and packages arrive before the holidays, postal patrons should mail out items no later than Dec. 19, according to the press release.

All packages and mail must be addressed to individual service members, as required by U.S. Department of Defense regulations, the release said.

Express Mail Military Service (EMMS) is available for selected military post offices. Local post offices can determine if this service is available, and the information can also be obtained by calling 1-800-275-8777, the release said.

Parcel Air Lift (PAL) is a special service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for parcel post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface rate of postage for each addressed piece sent by PAL service, according to the press release.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) also offers a Military Care Kit, or “Mili-kit,” to make it easier for military families and friends to send care packages to their loved ones stationed overseas. Each kit contains two priority mail boxes, six priority mail flat-rate boxes, eight priority mail labels, one roll of priority mail tape and eight customs forms with envelopes. There is no charge for the kit, which may be ordered by calling the USPS Expedited Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734.

For more detailed information on tracking and military mail, visit the Military Postal Service Agency’s Web site at