Deployed Airmen volunteer to enhance morale downrange

Approximately 30 Airmen from different career fields within the 386th AEW have volunteered to support the air base post office during the holiday season while deployed.

Airmen from different career fields within the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing process and sort mail Dec. 13, 2017, during the holiday season at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Approximately 30 Airmen from different career fields within the 386th AEW have volunteered to support the air base post office during the holiday season while deployed.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Thomsen, 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron mail processing supervisor, processes a package Dec. 13, 2017, while sorting mail during the holiday season at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Just as Santa’s elves are busy this time of year, Airmen at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing donate their time and sweat during the holiday season making sure the Christmas spirit is alive and well for their wingmen who are far from home during the holidays.

Approximately 30 Airmen from different career fields within the 386th AEW are supporting the air base post office during the holiday season while deployed.

“Mail is one of the things that connects us with our families back home,” said Senior Airman Daniel Nelsen, 43rd Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron C-130H mission crew supervisor. “It’s the Christmas season and there are a lot more packages, so I decided to help out since I was off (from work).”

This is Nelsen’s first deployment and he has been in country for only two weeks. He deployed from the 41st Electronic Combat Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

The air base’s postal team, comprised of seven Airmen, has accepted the help from these volunteers to unload, sort and process mail ensuring morale during deployment remains high. The Airmen offer their off-duty time daily through Dec. 30, 2017.

“It is important to have mail communications with our loved ones back home,” said Master Sgt. Richard Balanon, 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron postmaster. “It is a morale booster, not only during the holidays, but every day.”

According to Balanon, there is already a 30 percent increase of mail compared to the whole month of December 2016. They are expecting anywhere between 47,000 to 48,000 pieces of mail by the end of the month, weighing approximately 202,000 to 205,000 pounds.

“Mail makes or breaks people’s mentality here,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Thomsen, 386th ECS mail processing supervisor. “The demeanor some people have when they don’t get mail they are expecting, compared to when they get it, is significantly different. My favorite part of the job is seeing how happy people are when they get their mail.”

The Department of Defense standard requires the post office to process all mail within 24 hours of receiving it. With the help of the volunteers, the average amount of time to unload, process and organize two full truck-loads of mail is typically within four hours.