Michelle Brown of rural Morley, Mich., is accustomed to the process of ordering medication through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Brown’s husband, a veteran, relies on prescription medications every day that are delivered by the United States Postal Service. Typically, Brown places an order and it arrives within three days, but since the change in USPS leadership, Brown said she has waited more than 12 days for a single prescription to be delivered.
“It usually takes three days to get our (prescription) once I’ve ordered it,” Brown said. “This last medication I ordered was just in this last period … and it took 12 days to get his medication which left us three days short, so he wasn’t able to take his medication for three days.”
Brown said while her husband’s medication is not crucial, she is concerned for others who depend on these deliveries to stay healthy.
“There are many of us who get those medications and who cannot miss a day,” Brown said. “It’s getting worse. I live in a rural area. We expect the mail, we live by the mail, they are the ones who give us a lot of the things that we can’t get unless we drive 50 miles.”
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich, hosted a press conference Monday morning with U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich, to discuss the ongoing federal investigation into the USPS. Peters, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, launched the investigation into the USPS last Thursday after receiving an influx of constituent communication regarding the slow down of mail delivery in Michigan.
Peters first spoke to reporters about the importance of the postal service, especially amid the current pandemic.
“When we think about the postal service and how important it is to everyday life, not just prescription medicine, but getting paychecks, social security checks, get bills on time, this is of critical importance and we need a postal service that can continue to deliver the type of service that they have delivered in the past.” Peters said.
Peters also criticized the Trump administration's pick for the postmaster general position last week.
“When we look at the slow down it also correlates with a new Trump appointee as the postmaster general,” Peters said. “The postmaster general doesn’t have any background in the postal service which is traditional of postmaster generals — he doesn’t have it.”
Peters echoed Brown, emphasizing that individuals living in rural areas rely heavily on the postal service.
“Mail delivery is too important for every American,” Peters said. “Particularly those folks in rural areas and small businesses that are moving online and need to have postal services carry their business forward.”
Lawrence, a member of the House oversight committee, previously worked in the postal service and spoke about the organization’s nonpartisan mission to serve.
“The United States Postal Service, which was where I was introduced to public service, takes seriously the responsibility … to serve,'' Lawrence said. “It provides service to all Americans, it’s not partisan.”
Recently, President Donald Trump has expressed disapproval of mail-in voting, stating concerns about voter fraud for the upcoming election. Lawrence also stated concerns about the new postmaster general’s relationship with the president and his stance on mail-in or absentee voting.
“We unfortunately have a new postmaster general who has come in with the president of the United States who has come in daily saying he does not want to vote by mail,” Lawrence said. “And unfortunately has made it part of his platform to attack the postal service.”
Carl Blassingame, president of the Michigan Association of Letter Carriers, spoke about his experience with the postal system and the recent delays.
“For 245 years, the postal service has delivered to each and every person in this country,” Blassingame said. “… The customers rely on us and we rely on them. It’s a travesty what’s happening now.”
Lawrence emphasized the importance of addressing these issues and protecting the postal service, especially leading into the general election in November.
“Our democracy is being held in the hands in the United States Postal Service,” Lawrence said. “We in Congress and in the Senate have a responsibility to protect that democracy. That is why I was so happy to join my Senator Gary Peters in this objective of looking at the postal service and ensuring that our postal system is being protected. Because of COVID, we don’t have a choice. We must vote by mail and that is not going to be a deterrent to our constitutional right and civic responsibility of voting.
Peters emphasized his goals for the investigation and to help Michigan residents as well as residents across the nation have access to a postal system they can rely on.
“Together we want to get to the bottom of this,” Peters said. “The bottom line is that folks in Michigan deserve to have a postal service that delivers the mail as quickly as possible to them and we won’t accept anything less than that.”
Summer News Editor Sarah Payne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.