At sea but close by: How morale mail helps sailors keep connected to home

morale mail

Sailor First Class Alexandra Madsen opens a care package she received from home for her birthday.

Kateryna Bandura, 
Lookout Editor

From a child’s drawing to a bag of candy, morale mail brings a part of home to all the deployed sailors.

As HMCS Vancouver and Winnipeg navigate the Pacific on their six-month deployment, the blue mail bags always ignite smiles around the ship.

“We don’t always realize the power of receiving a note, card, or package that someone took the time to put together for you specifically,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Michelle Scott, Vancouver’s Public Affairs Officer. “It can really turn around someone’s day or even week on ship.”

Fleet Mail Office Victoria is one of two Canadian Forces Postal Unit offices dedicated to supporting deployed Royal Canadian Navy ships. To date, the office has sent 238 bags of mail weighing 2.5 tons (2,577 kilograms) to both ships.

The Posties, as they are affectionately called, have proudly served deployed Canadian Armed Forces members by ensuring packages are sent and received properly by deployed units. On ship, this task is handled by the meteorological technicians (met tech) on board, who receive and send mail back to the postal units ashore for further processing.

Sergeant (Sgt) Victoria Rogers, a met tech in HMCS Winnipeg, said delivering mail is a lot of work but one she absolutely enjoys.

“I’ve seen sailors laugh and cry as they opened their packages,” she said. “Some packages are decorated by little kids with stickers and drawings and some are decorated with themes for each one.”

While everyone’s mail is different, some things generally stay consistent.

“There are always candy and treats getting pulled out and passed around, little toys or stuffies the little ones pop in the box before it’s secured with tape, and notes and pictures from loved ones back home,” Sgt Rogers said.

But some sailors truly make the most of morale mail.

“Snacks and food items are one thing,” Lt(N) Scott said, “but hot sauce collections, clothes for the changing of the seasons, blankets, coffee, and other creature comforts – you can also order items off Amazon to send to the ship now.”

Sgt Dan Jacklin, Vancouver’s met tech, said he always ensures the mail is properly taken care of.

“Despite all the announcements, briefs, and word-of-mouth, there are still people who are surprised that we can send and receive mail while deployed,” Sgt Jacklin said.

Lt(N) Scott said morale mail keeps people on ships connected to home.

“If you are looking to send someone a package, but don’t know what to send – you really can’t go wrong with snacks,” she said.

morale mail

Sergeant Dan Jacklin processes bags of mail HMCS Vancouver received while alongside in Guam.

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