I’m Master Corporal Patrick Kelly originally from Windsor, Ontario. I’m a Canadian Forces Postal Clerk here at CFB Petawawa.
And I’m Master Corporal Dan Kieffer from Kitchener, Ontario, a Postal Clerk at the Canadian Forces Postal Unit in Trenton, Ontario.
KELLY: A career in the Canadian Forces as a postal clerk basically means that you’ll be handling all the mail traffic in and out of every base in Canada and dispatching that mail overseas or wherever it has to go.
In military post offices, we deal personally with service members across the counter selling Canada Post products. And we’re also responsible for the security of secret and confidential letters and packages.
KIEFFER: We go where the Forces go and we send mail to virtually every continent, often to locations where getting the mail to the right place on time is a difficult task.
A lot of mail does not come properly addressed, but as a postal clerk, we take great pride in tracking a person down to ensure that their correspondence and them get together.
KELLY: When that person receives mail, it’s just something that boosts morale and it makes being there that much more tolerable. And we have the pleasure of delivering it to these soldiers that are out in the field.
KIEFFER: You’d be amazed at what the soldiers ask their families to send them.
We will move almost anything, be it bicycles, be it hockey sticks, guitars, drums, tires, mufflers, bumpers. I don’t think there’s anything I haven’t seen try to be sent through the mail.
KELLY: We’re providing a service that’s been around for more than a hundred years. We’re right there, on the ground with our troops.
One of the main reasons I joined this trade is for the travel opportunities. Simply because we’re rotated into operational theatres quite a bit and it’s always great to take your vacation in, say, Germany or Egypt or some exotic place like that where normally I wouldn’t get a chance to travel that way.
KELLY: Postal Clerks go through basic military training just like every other soldier.
KIEFFER: After you finish your Basic, you move on to Trenton, Ontario, and the Canadian Forces Postal Unit for your occupation training.
KELLY: The Postal Clerk Apprentice course last six weeks. They teach you how to receive, handle, sort and deliver letters and parcels, and how the military postal system operates.
KIEFFER: After your Apprentice course and a period of on-the-job experience, you’ll be eligible for Journeyman training. This course includes the financial side of the military postal service which enables you to take on Post Office counter services.
KELLY: When you start as a postal clerk, you’ll be assigned to a postal unit and you’re basically handling mail. You’ll learn to sort, divide, addressing procedures, procedures that we have to send mail overseas. Basically, you know, become a postal worker just in uniform.
KIEFFER: Postal Clerks also work in Central Registries. That's where we control and distribute official correspondence, both unclassified and classified, as well as process message traffic and official files.
KELLY: We sort and dispatch the mail daily to meet flight deadlines which at times like Christmas, for example, means extra work hours.
KIEFFER: People always look forward to getting their cookies in the mail or getting the package with a drawing from a child or just an “I love you”.
KIEFFER: The best part of the job is when someone says thank you. You’ve given that piece of mail, you’ve gone out of the way to find them to get that package to them. And sometimes I’ve driven a truck 10 kilometres out of the way to find a guy to give him his piece of mail and he is so happy that he gets that piece of mail.
KELLY: My time in Afghanistan was great because I really got a sense of the whole reason why the trade itself exists. People are depending on the mail service for their morale and it’s basically the greatest thing when you can deliver packages to soldiers out in the field that are really counting on them. You get a sense of grand accomplishment that your job, your piece of the puzzle, fits in nicely and you’ve accomplished something that not a lot of people get to do.