Postal Service delays are impacting local veterans who depend on it for their medication

ATLANTA — Delays and mail backlogs at the U.S. Postal Service have become a big political battle in Washington.

The postmaster general announced Tuesday he will pause the controversial changes in operation that critics say have led to problems.

Most of the attention has been on concerns about how that could affect voting in November.

But Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray has spoken with some families, particularly ones with veterans, who are already dealing with major problems now.

Shameka Oliver's husband has to take a carefully calibrated mix of five medications to manage his bipolar depression.

“It will say, ‘OK, it is arriving,’ but one may arrive, and the other four may not,” Oliver said.

Like 80% of the Department of Veterans Affairs patients, those crucial medications for the army veteran, who served in Iraq, come through the mail.

“We rely we rely on getting our meds in a timely manner,” Oliver said.

But in recent weeks, the prescriptions — always so reliable — have been delayed in transit.


“Unfortunately, it has affected his health. He’s missed several doses,” Oliver said. “Manic episodes can last from two days to two weeks. So not having that medicine — it does something.”

Jep Wyatt said the mail problems started about a month ago at his Atlanta townhome community.

Packages that were arriving with no problems earlier during the pandemic are now missing in action.

“I have experienced this probably like five or six times,” Wyatt said.  

After some digging, Wyatt discovered that postal carriers will no longer deliver any packages bigger than his mailbox to his neighborhood. They now have to be picked up at a distribution center.

“The delays ended up turning into, ‘Hey, we’re not going to deliver this. You can come pick it up,’” Wyatt said.

Congress is coming back early next week from the August recess to address the postal problems in an emergency hearing — looking into policy shifts by the postmaster general allegedly leading to major backlogs, including reduced overtime and changes in delivery procedures.

The postmaster general announced Tuesday that he’s pausing those changes, saying in a statement, “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”

The Postal Service sent Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger a letter last month, warning that there is a risk that ballots requested near the deadline by state law will not be returned in time to be counted.

While the White House and Congress debate where the problem is and whether to budget more money for the post office, the League of Women Voters states there's something you can do when it comes to the election impacts on mail-in ballots here in Georgia.

“We always say have your plan for voting. And this year, you just need to have that plan as soon as possible,” said President Susannah Scott, Georgia League of Women Voters.

Scott told Gray that voters should be prepared for a postal delay, and you should decide now on how you'll vote and even have a backup plan.

“Make that plan now so that you’re prepared,” Scott said.

While much of the focus and attention has been on the upcoming election and the potential impact on absentee ballots — for Oliver and other veteran families, there is a more immediate concern: The health and safety of veterans.

“It’s heartbreaking. It really, really is,” Oliver said. “There has to be something that can be done.”

By Georgia law, your ballot has to be received by the election office on Election Day. It's not about when you get it in the mail or the postmark. That's why it's important to plan early.

You should request and return that ballot early or plan to drop it off at one of the secure ballot drop boxes that counties are installing.