November 8, 2012
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – An episode of the television show “Cheers” depicts the ties between the Defense Department and the U.S. Postal Service, ties that were highlighted during the Veterans Day ceremony at Postal Service headquarters today.
In that 1989 episode, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. appeared on the show and sat at the eponymous bar next to Cliff Claven — the mail carrier played by John Ratzenberger.
Ratzenberger’s character told the admiral: “Us guys in uniform have to stick together.”
That “Cheers” scene was good for a laugh, but many employees at the U.S. Postal Service are veterans or are serving in the reserve components, said Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe.
More than 200 veterans attended the ceremony at the Hall of Flags at the Postal Service’s headquarters here. The postmaster general thanked veterans for their service and sacrifices. He noted that on any given day about 1,000 U.S. Postal Service employees are on active duty with the military around the world.
Veterans comprise about 20 percent of the Postal Service’s workforce, the postmaster general said. “We are the largest employer of veterans in government after the Department of Defense,” he said. “That’s more than 100,000 people.”
Hiring veterans is the right thing to do, Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman said, but it also makes business sense. He praised veterans for their work ethic and their ability to adapt to new conditions and to work with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs.
Both men spoke of the historic connections between the Postal Service and the armed forces, stretching back to the founding of the republic. George Washington depended on the colonial post office to deliver messages from the field to the Congress, they said. And the U.S. Postal Service has continued its service to the military, keeping those on the front lines connected with the homefront.
That service was the theme of retired Army Maj. Gen. Ronald G. Young. The general serves as the executive director for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Young praised the Postal Service for its work in peace and war.
“Thank you for your commitment to bringing people together,” he said.
Young discussed the importance of the Postal Service in his own life. In 1966, as a 19-year-old private in basic training at Fort Bragg, N.C., he received a letter each day from the woman that eventually became his wife.
He said it’s no wonder that many veterans are attracted to the Postal Service as “they are used to public service” and the organization is focused on people.