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French soldiers

Delivering mail: a lifeline for French soldiers abroad

Quality of Life Observer

- Defense

- Dec 11 2013

In a partnership with La Poste, Sodexo is providing postal services to French military bases abroad. It is a crucial mission, as it contributes to raising the soldiers’ quality of life and boosting the troops’ morale. 

Still in its deployment phase, the Sodexo – La Poste consortium is set to deliver mail and parcels to 35,000 soldiers in 11 French military bases in Germany, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Mali. 

Expressing support for the troops

“Mail is a lifeline for soldiers,” says Veronika Roux, Sodexo Vice President for Defense, Continental Europe. “For military service personnel, the mail and parcels they exchange with their loved ones have a major impact on their quality of life.”

Love letters, birthday cards from family and friends, or drawings from their children, for example, are more cherished by soldiers than phone calls or emails. The troops also receive many letters from French citizens eager to express their support for what they are doing for their country. “Soldiers always say how important such support is to them, and it makes their job more meaningful,” says Veronika.

A welcome reminder of home

Parcels can weigh up to 20 kilograms and are just as eagerly awaited. “To give you an idea of volume, four tons of mail are distributed each week to soldiers in Kabul, Afghanistan,” says Veronika. And of course delivery peaks on dates such as Easter or Christmas.

The packages often contain clothing items, video and board games, posters, DVDs, books, home-prepared meals in preserving jars or vacuum-sealed pouches, and various gifts. Such care packages represent great opportunities for barter: a DVD in exchange for a book, for example, or a regional sweet specialty traded for another. But above all, they provide soldiers with an all-important taste of home while they are deployed abroad. And by sharing some of the items they receive, soldiers can strengthen their friendships and help boost morale and cohesion within their unit.

A key factor in retaining the best soldiers

Mail is so important for the wellbeing of soldiers that its delivery is almost on a 24/7 basis. “It is totally out of the question to deliver mail late or to the wrong soldier, because we know how significant the work we do is for them.” Indeed, opening up a letter or a parcel from home is “the best feeling in the world.”

“Delivering mail works wonders not only for individual staff morale, but can also contribute to the troops’ collective efficiency and the overall success of military operations,” adds Veronika. “Mail is just as important as food: they are the two main ingredients of the troops’ morale.”

Indeed, according to NATO, 30% of new army recruits do not complete their contract and 80% of premature departures are caused by issues in balancing family life and military duties. “In a professional army, the only way you can retain the best is by focusing on quality of life,” concludes Veronika.

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