Even in the age of emails and Internet video chatting, there’s nothing like a parcel or a letter from home for US soldiers on deployment in Afghanistan.
The incoming mail at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Lightning consists of everything from televisions and T-shirts to golf balls — and still plenty of handwritten envelopes from family and friends.
But the mail service is winding down in parallel with the pullout of US combat troops after 13 years of war and, as bases close, so too do the post offices.
Troops at FOB Lightning have been rushing to send out carpets, scarves, trinkets and other souvenirs in their last chance to use the mail depot before it shuts and is replaced by an occasional delivery-only service.
Mail will still get through, but it could be less reliable as the US force shrinks from the current 44,000 troops to a 10,000-strong follow-up mission next year.
“The mail service is like Christmas time. I’m like Santa,” said Sergeant Michael Claggett, from Fort Hood Texas, who works at FOB Lightning post office in the volatile eastern province of Paktia.
“When I have mail, it’s a good day. When I don’t have mail, it’s not so positive for everyone.