SITREP: March 2006
By Dan Shea

Long time SAR readers are aware that we have a policy where we try to send free copies of our magazine to the deployed troops. Many of us have been out there, and appreciated some good reading material, so we at Small Arms Review have tried to accommodate those making the sacrifice today.

I recently ran across the website http://anysoldier.com/WhereToSend/ and was truly impressed with their efforts. In this electronic age, the soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on a ship at sea can go online and touch base not only with family and friends, but they can go to Anysoldier.com and actually list the things they are looking for and give an address. You can go there too, and send things to them.

This got us to thinking. We had some back issues, and some of us ante’d up the postage and a group of volunteers got together, and we packaged up a thousand “Cookies From Home for Shooters” packages, got the addresses of a thousand troops who wanted reading material, and we packaged and packaged and packaged, thinking all the while about the troops and their sacrifices, and how we could do a little something for them.

Then we ran into the United States Postal Service. Previously, they had informed us we could not use our Periodical Rate when shipping older magazines, so we paid full fare on this so there would be no questions. When we showed them the first few packages, no problem. When we showed up with a truckload, they obviously didn’t want to deal with it, and one of them said, “Hey! The new regulations require that all APO/FPO addresses over 16 ounces have a US Customs declaration form be filled out in five copies. We can’t accept these, see ya!”

Back to the drawing board. The volunteers got together; they improvised, overcame, and adapted, came up with a system, and started typing the online customs forms. They did one thousand sets of five in two days. Some of the Postal employees pitched in advice on how to get it done, and got us the packing slip holders. The volunteers persevered, and we finally penetrated and defeated the bureaucracy. One thousand packages of good reading are on the way!

I was separately told that the newly required US Customs form for APO/ FPO addresses is so that each package can be tracked and the sender identified, in case there were a terrorist sending poisoned cookies or something. I immediately said “Well, what if they were a good little terrorist, and lied about their name and address, and the poisoned cookies get through. All you would know is that the package came from X address on X date.... The same exact thing a postage date stamp would tell you, and that proves this is just one more pointless exercise, wasting time and killing trees to make paper.”

We had to fill out the forms anyway. Regardless, y’all can go to http://anysoldier.com and see what the troops need, and send a care package. Oh, yeah, don’t forget the US Customs form.

- Dan

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N6 (March 2006)
and was posted online on March 8, 2013


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