Return to sender, address unseen

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“We’ve never had a problem with the post office delivering our mail before. By law, all our mailings have to go to the post office unsealed. So why didn’t someone there just unfold one of the fliers and see who we were and what we were doing? “All our volunteers work hard to get vets with disabilities out and around the community to events and meetings. This was a big setback.” The fliers sat unnoticed in the vision rehab office for two weeks until it was too late to send them out for the Monday, May 15, meeting. Rich Maher, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, called the incident “unfortunate.” “We’re sorry it happened, but the rules of the domestic mail manual specifically say an organization or individual has to apply and qualify for free mailing privileges,” he said. An important Veterans Administration meeting on disaster preparedness for more than 600 legally blind local veterans turned into a disaster itself this week. Nobody showed. Not one vet. Turns out they didn’t even know about it. The fliers that were supposed to be mailed to them were instead returned to the Sepulveda VA’s Visual Impairment Service Team by the Santa Clarita postal processing center because the return address on the mail was not recognized as being eligible for “free matter to the blind” mailing privileges. “We were expecting a good turnout from our visually impaired vets on something as important as new disaster preparedness plans, so we were really disappointed,” said Dr. Jane Merrill, director of the Greater Los Angeles VA’s vision rehab program, who is legally blind. Still, a little common sense by postal officials could have avoided this bureaucratic snafu between federal agencies. The fliers were taken to the Canyon Country post office on May 1 by Pam and Jim Hogan, who Merrill calls two of the VA’s hardest-working volunteers on the vision rehab team. Jim was a building inspector for the city of Los Angeles until 1999 when he had to retire because he was losing his eyesight. He is now legally blind. While he sat in the car, Pam, who is sighted, brought the fliers into the Canyon Country post office where employees know the couple and their guide dog from previous free matter mailings. “It was accepted by the postal clerk there, and I left thinking everything was fine,” Pam said. It was only after the fliers arrived at the Santa Clarita processing center later that day that someone noticed the return address on the fliers was for the Vision Impairment Service Team at Sepulveda VA, not Jim Hogan, who was eligible for free mailing. Meanwhile, the Hogans had left on a long-awaited vacation on May 2 thinking the fliers were on the way to the 600 vets. “When we got back last week and saw they were back in our office, we freaked,” she said. Stamped on the box was “returned for postage,” along with a handwritten note saying it was “not eligible” to be sent as matter for the blind. But the reason given was not that the vision rehab team hadn’t sought to qualify for free mailing. The arrow pointed to a section of the postal rules saying letters from sighted individuals, even to the blind, must bear “full applicable postage.” “The Braille Institute has sighted people volunteering in it, and so do we,” Merrill said. “Does that make us ineligible to mail out free matter to the blind? It’s stupid.” Yeah, it is. A little common sense would have taken care of the whole mess. Someone at the Santa Clarita processing center should have checked with the Canyon Country post office, and found out the Hogans and their visual impairment service team were legit. Or, even easier, open one of the fliers and read for themselves how important it was that all legally blind vets attend an important meeting on the city’s new plan for disaster preparedness for persons with disabilities. Any way you cut it, the mail should have gone through. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected] (818) 713-3749160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more