Union Veterans Tell Congress: Hold the Postal Service Accountable

Yesterday, the Union Veterans Council sent the following letter to House and Senate leadership, copying all Senate and Member offices. The Trump administration has a rich history of saying one thing and doing another and America's veterans rely on the Postal Service for a variety of needs, including the ability to vote. Congress must act quickly to hold them accountable.

Dear Leaders,
On behalf of the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO, we are appalled at the administration’s attempt to dismantle the United States Postal Service (USPS). President Trump has expressly stated he would block funding to prevent American citizens from voting by mail. Further, he stated that people should go to the polls to vote—regardless of the risk of exposure to the coronavirus—thus endangering their lives. Throughout the country, mail sorting machines have been removed from post offices, necessary overtime has been restricted and employee numbers have been reduced. These actions already have led to a delay in mail service.
These actions are clearly an effort to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service and November’s elections.
Though Postmaster General DeJoy now claims any changes to the Postal Service will be delayed until after the election, the American people cannot just take him at his word that their mailed ballots will be protected. If Americans do not trust the Postal Service to deliver their ballots safely, half the damage already will have been done.
Time and again, this administration has said one thing and done another. In June 2018, President Trump signed an executive order putting a stop to family separation policies, but his administration continued the practice, separating almost 700 families using a loophole over the course of the next year.
The Union Veterans Council requests that Congress step in and use its oversight power to ensure this abuse of power by the administration stops here. This attack on one of the most important institutions in society affects everyone—Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We cannot take it on faith alone that President Trump’s sabotage will end.
Voting is among the most patriotic obligations we have as Americans. Our nation’s service members rely on the Postal Service to deliver their ballots while deployed abroad. An attack on voting by mail is an attack on the ability of veterans to safely make our voices heard.
Veterans are more likely to suffer from preexisting conditions, and thus face a higher threat from in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Veterans must be confident their mail-in votes will be counted so they can stay safe and vote from home. In addition, more than 800,000 absentee ballots were dispatched to overseas military personnel during the 2012 and 2016 elections combined, according to the Center for American Progress. Under Trump’s coordinated assault on the Postal Service, active service members’ votes could be sacrificed.
Even if Postmaster General DeJoy’s changes are delayed until after the election, attacking the Postal Service still will put veterans at risk. Cuts to the Postal Service will take away quality career options and benefits from disabled veterans. It would be a disgrace to leave behind those who have served our country in the dust.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) relies on mail service to supply veterans with needed prescriptions; threatening the Postal Service will directly threaten veterans’ access to health care. In 2016, the VA processed almost 120 million outpatient prescriptions, which includes 470,000 daily prescriptions by mail for over more than 330,000 veterans.
New Postal Service delays caused by Postmaster General DeJoy’s policies already have caused massive holdups for veterans awaiting lifesaving medication, with some experiencing delays of up to 20 days. The VA supplies approximately 80% of all outpatient prescriptions to veterans via mail.
Without the additional $25 billion the Postal Service has requested, even more veterans will lose access to vital medications.
The Postal Service is enshrined in our Constitution, and attacking it is an affront to the values veterans have served to protect. The Postal Service employs 100,000 veterans—the largest contingent of its workforce. In rural America, the post office is a necessary fixture of the community, often providing a stable connection with other areas. The Postal Service must be protected, whether the attack comes now or six months down the line.
This abuse of power must be met with a resounding rejection in the halls of Congress. Even as President Trump and Postmaster General DeJoy claim to be delaying these policies, Congress must use its power to protect this American institution, hold the administration accountable and ensure no changes are made.
William Attig, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Executive Director
Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO