Front and center

A USPS employee who served in the military during Desert Storm recently received a medal of recognition that was 29 years overdue — thanks to his postal supervisor, who worked behind the scenes to ensure the oversight was corrected.

Brad Albright, a tool and parts clerk at the Grand Rapids, MI, Vehicle Maintenance Facility, was serving in the Army in the early 1990s when the nation went to war in the Persian Gulf. He volunteered to participate in Desert Storm with a different unit than the one to which he was assigned, and served throughout the January-April 1991 war.

Albright should have received a Liberation of Kuwait combat medal at the end of the conflict, but he was accidentally overlooked because he had changed units.

Flash forward to this year, when Albright — who joined the Postal Service in 2004 — was swapping war stories with Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Marty Mieras Jr., a retired Army command sergeant major and fellow Desert Storm veteran.

When Albright mentioned that he never received his medal, Mieras decided to fix the mistake.

“As a leader, you take care of your folks. I knew exactly who to call,” Mieras said.

Without telling Albright, Mieras quietly went to work, contacting military officials, reviewing paperwork and taking the other steps necessary to get Albright the recognition he was due. After Mieras obtained permission to present the medal and an accompanying certificate to Albright, he decided to make it a surprise.

During a Veterans Day ceremony at the Grand Rapids Vehicle Maintenance Facility last month, Mieras — with help from Loretta Schmidt, the facility manager — sneaked Albright’s mother, sister and nephew into a back room.

At the end of the ceremony, Mieras sprang the surprise.

“Specialist Albright, front and center!” he called out.

As Albright’s family emerged from the back room, Mieras presented the medal with help from Gowen, MI, Postmaster Mike Poll, a retired Army command sergeant major who served with Mieras in the Armored Cavalry.

“I was shocked … just taken aback but moved that Marty took the time and effort in getting the medal and my family present,” Albright said.

The medal is now prominently displayed in Albright’s home next to other service mementos and the American flag.

Mieras is glad everything worked out.

“I was humbled and very excited to present the young man with the medal he earned,” he said. “It was an amazing opportunity for me to be retired from the Army and still take care of one of our soldiers.”

New beginning

The new year will bring stamp releases, annual events and other Postal Service activities you should know about.

USPS has announced several planned stamp releases for 2020, beginning with Year of the Rat, the first stamp in the latest Lunar New Year series, on Jan. 11.

Other releases include Big Bend, a new Priority Mail stamp, and Grand Island Ice Caves, a Priority Mail Express stamp (Jan. 18); a Black Heritage stamp honoring journalist Gwen Ifill (Jan. 30); Let’s Celebrate! (Feb. 14); Wild Orchids (Feb. 21); Maine Statehood (March 14); Contemporary Boutonniere and Garden Corsage (April 2); Earth Day (April 18); American Gardens (May 13); and Voices of the Harlem Renaissance (May 21).

The current Combined Federal Campaign is slated to conclude Jan. 12.

The National Postal Forum, the mailing industry’s largest annual meeting, will be held from April 26-29 in Orlando.

National Postal Customer Council Week, an annual event that brings together USPS and industry leaders at meetings across the nation, will be held from Sept. 21-25.

Additionally, National Dog Bite Prevention Week is expected to be held in April, while the Stamp Out Hunger food drive will occur May 9.

Independence Day will fall on a Saturday in 2020, while Christmas Day will be a Friday.

The usps.com Holidays & Events page lists other holidays in the new year.

Life insurance changes

It’s now easier for Postal Service employees to sign up for life insurance or make changes to their coverage.

USPS has added a Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) module to PostalEASE that’s similar to the platform’s health insurance, tax and banking modules.

The new module allows current employees to reduce their current FEGLI elections, while new hires can use it to make their initial benefit elections.

Previously, employees had to submit form SF 2817, Life Insurance Election, to the Human Resources Shared Service Center (HRSSC) to enroll in a FEGLI plan or make changes.

After validating their choices on the module, employees will receive a confirmation number and a summary of their selections with an effective date.

Employees still have the option to modify their FEGLI benefit if they experience a qualified life event,” such as a marriage or divorce. To do so, employees must contact the HRSSC.

New hires interested in the FEGLI benefit should enroll within 60 days from their appointment date.

Employees can go to the FEGLI Blue page for more information.