AAFES Corner

Anstey Judd, AAFES


AAFES Exchange Online Mall Expands to Save Military Families Even More

DALLAS – The addition of five new suppliers to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Exchange Online Mall means even more savings and selection for military shoppers. ShoeBuy, BagsBuy, Ritz Camera, BellaBlu Maternity and Football Fanatics all have recently joined more than 70 other name brand suppliers already on AAFES’ virtual concession mall at exchangeonlinemall.com.

ShoeBuy is the largest e-tailer on the internet focused on all categories of footwear and related apparel.  From boots to sandals, ShoeBuy has partnerships with more than 250 manufacturers. In addition to free shipping anywhere in the United States, military shoppers who shop ShoeBuy online through save an additional seven percent.

BagsBuy offers a huge selection of bags including handbags, laptop and duffel bags, briefcases and backpacks. Military shoppers visiting BagsBuy online can browse from more than 120 brand names and save an extra seven percent and receive free shipping within the United States.

Ritz Camera has everything a shutterbug needs including state-of-the-art cameras, camera accessories, camcorders, home electronics, printers, scanners and binoculars. With a five percent discount on all merchandise and free shipping on orders of $100 or more, military photographers shopping Ritz Camera online are sure to save.

For military moms-to-be, BellaBlu Maternity is home to hip clothing that is both trendy and functional. BellaBlu offers career wear, swimwear, and intimate apparel along with maternity jeans, dresses, formal wear and tops, all at a ten percent discount for military shoppers online.

Finally, Football Fanatics carries more than 50,000 unique team and league licensed products featuring NFL, college, MLB, NBA, NASCAR and NHL teams. Additionally, the site offers a wide variety of products including kids jerseys, women’s jewelry, hats and infant accessories with a ten percent discount on every order placed online.

“We continue to partner with new suppliers to offer even greater value and selection to military families,” said Richard Sheff, Chief Marketing Officer.  “The added selections of merchandise these partners offer ensure military Families who exercise their exchange benefit always find the right product at the right price.”

The Exchange Mall is a concession mall offering online service and merchandise to military members around the world.  Today, more than 70 third party sites, including Techniche, which features heat stress and cold weather related products, online book store Books A Million and music download site Napster strengthen the exchange benefit through their active support of the exchangeonlinemall.com. Authorized customers can log onto to their Exchange Online Store at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com and click the Exchange Mall logo or access the site directly by logging onto www.exchangeonlinemall.com.


AAFES Celebrates Back to School Tax-Free ‘Holiday’ Every Day

DALLAS – While stores across America will be jammed for a handful of days in the coming months for tax-free “holidays” on select items, Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) locations the world over continue to offer military Families tax-free shopping every day on everything in the store. With merchandise ranging from shoes, school supplies, clothing and backpacks to sporting goods, lunch boxes and electronics, AAFES offers year-round one-stop, tax-free shopping for every student’s needs.

“Why wait for a ‘holiday?’ AAFES has done its homework when it comes to providing name brand merchandise at tremendous values,” said AAFES Chief Marketing Officer Richard Sheff. “Whether looking for that perfect outfit for the first day or pencils and protractors, one stop at the BX/PX is generally all military Families need for back to school.”

Now through Aug. 24, AAFES is hosting a wide variety of back to school specials including deals on Toshiba and Compaq computers, backpacks from $7.99-$19.99, 30 percent off L’Oreal and Revlon cosmetics, a wide assortment of Nike products priced from $5.50 to $20, two-for-one deals on select health and beauty items, 50 percent off select Armitron watches and much more.

“AAFES is taking the hassle out of back to school shopping,” said Sheff. “With store-wide savings on virtually every merchandise category and tax-free shopping 365 days a year, military Families always save big when shopping their exchange.”


Oh Baby! AAFES.com Sweepstakes Set to Award More Than $1,500 in Prizes to Military Parents’ Newest Recruits

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is kicking off 2007 with an exclusive contest for the military’s newest moms and dads. Open to any authorized Exchange customer who has a baby born on Jan. 1 2007, the “New Year Baby Sweepstakes” is an online drawing for a bundle of baby goodies from GRACO, COSCO, The First Years, Safety 1st, Infantino and Gerber.

Drawing on its 111 year history of service to military families the world over, AAFES has compiled three prize packages with everything parents need to welcome their New Year addition in style.

“At a minimum, each prize pack will include a stroller, toddler bed, security gate, bouncer, tub, bassinet, activity center and swing along with a one-year supply of AAFES’ Exchange Select Diapers and six-month supply of Baby’s Choice Formula,” said AAFES’ Chief Marketing Officer Richard Sheff. “By including merchandise from the PX/BX and Exchange Online Store, the ‘New Year Baby Sweepstakes’ is an excellent example of how AAFES’ online and offline sales points work together to make preparing for the birth of a baby easy and affordable. Whether growing military families exercise their exchange benefit on the computer, over the phone or in person, they’re going to save money everyday when they shop at their Exchange.”

“New Year Baby Sweepstakes” entries must be received at www.aafes.com before Jan. 31. The drawing for the three grand prizes, each projected to exceed $500 in value, will be held Feb. 5.

Military Families Clean Up with New Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog

     Forget groundhogs and their shadows. The first sign of spring for troops and their families is the arrival of the newest Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog. The 2007 edition, which begins hitting mailboxes and exchanges this week, boasts more than 500 pages of exciting products sure to beat the winter blues.

“When it comes to spring and summer, nobody outshines AAFES’ commitment to serving the best customers in the world,” said AAFES Chief Marketing Officer Richard Sheff. “This catalog is everything shopping should be because, whether indoors or out, we serve up style and value with a selection second to none.”

With well-chosen items in gifts and collectibles, home furnishings and decorative, handbags and apparel and jewelry and accessories, the spring/summer catalog has everything for home and family. As an added bonus, military shoppers will also receive $30 in coupon savings that can be used throughout the first half of 2007.

The 2007 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid through July 16, 2007, for any authorized exchange customer. Active duty military members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as military retirees, reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas, exchange employees and their family members are all authorized exchange privileges.

Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone.  Toll free orders can be placed from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam at 800-527-2345.  The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week. Complimentary international access calling is also available from several countries.  Those numbers are:

    Germany                0800-82-16500
    Japan/Okinawa       00531-11-4132
    Korea                    00308-13-0664
    Italy                      8008-71227
    Belgium                  0800-7-2432
    Netherlands            0800-022-1889
    United Kingdom        0800-96-8101
    Spain                     900-971-391
     Turkey*                 00800-18-488-6312
* Calls cannot be placed from phones on base. Use off-base commercial lines.

Authorized customers can also shop the 2007 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Troops in War Zone March to Beat of a Different Drummer

DALLAS – Since the days of the Revolutionary War when militias marched to fifes and drums, music has played a historical and integral role on the battlefield. The Civil War, which used brass bands to entertain Soldiers, gave way to the tape recorders of the ‘60s blasting the rock and folk sounds of the Rolling Stones and Joan Baez. Today’s deployed troops, who take their music with them, have made rhythm and blues, rap and country the soundtrack of their time in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF).

Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, who purchased approximately 1.7 million CDs at 54 Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) post and base exchanges scattered throughout the Middle East, display far different musical tastes than those at home. For example, compared to Nielsen Media Research’s 2006 top sellers, only one title, Mary J. Blige’s “The Breakthrough,” made deployed Soldier, Airmen, Sailor and Marine’s top 10.

While two of the top-selling titles were country, including Tim McGraw’s “Greatest Hits” topping the charts at number one, rap, along with rhythm and blues, accounted for the two most popular formats. Six of the AAFES OEF/OIF top 10 featured rap and R&B artists, including Ne-Yo at number two and T.I. at number four.

"Part of AAFES’ mission has always been to ensure that our troops have access to the latest entertainment, regardless of where they are called to serve,” said AAFES Contingency Planning Chief Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “With new releases flown in every week to PXs and BXs half way around the world, today’s deployed warriors have access to new music at virtually the same time as their friends back home, yet judging by sales trends, their tastes are quite unique.”

The most popular CDs, based on service members’ shopping habits at AAFES contingency PX/BXs, in 2006 included:

Artist                          Album                             Units
Tim McGraw                 Greatest Hits                   6,787
Ne-Yo                         In My Own Words             6,673
Various Artists              Now 21                           6,136
T.I.                            King                                6,095
Jaheim                        Ghetto Classics                 6,014
Godsmack                    IV                                  5,835
Mary J. Blige                The Breakthrough              5,797
Toby Keith                   White Trash with Money     5,749
Ludacris                      Release Therapy                5,680
Isley Brothers               Baby Makin’ Music              5,630

Any American can send a selection from the AAFES OEF/OIF top ten as well as thousands of other music titles to a deployed Soldier, Airmen, Sailor or Marine by sending an AAFES “Gift from the Homefront.” Available through www.aafes.org or toll free at 877-770-4438, these lightweight and flexible gift certificates can be redeemed for almost any product stocked at thousands of exchange facilities across the globe. “Gifts from the Homefront” may be addressed to individual service members (designated by the purchaser) or sent to the attention of "any service member" through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence®, Soldier & Family Assistance Center, USA Cares or USO.

Families Hail AAFES’ Program to Help Injured Troops

DALLAS – When military service members are injured in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom, that trauma is made all the more difficult by an arduous transition process from the battlefield. Troops are often flown immediately to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with little more than the clothes on their backs and identification around their necks. From there, wounded troops recuperate at U.S. medical centers and begin reintegration into civilian life.

Walter Gardiner understands the challenges injured troops evacuated from a war zone face first hand. His son, Sgt. Ryan Gardiner, was medically evacuated from Baghdad after sustaining injuries in the global war on terrorism.

When Sgt. Gardiner reached the hospital in Germany , he had nothing to his name until an Army and Air Force Exchange Service personal shopper arrived on the scene. Armed with underwear, socks and a change of clothes, the civilian associate brought more than products, he delivered comfort to a Soldier in need.       

“When someone else cares about my son’s needs as much as his mom and dad do, it brings a sense of belonging to a special family,” said Gardiner.

AAFES associates Shane Warren and Charlotte Stobie are personal shoppers who visit with troops, make a list, then go to the Exchange and select the items.  They return to the hospital and hand deliver items to injured troops.

“It is an honor to help these young men,” Warren said. “I was once wounded and brought to Landstuhl so I know what it means to have a friendly face at a time when you are alone and frightened. You feel the hurt when they get to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center . Our job is to make them feel better. We are here for the people who fight to protect us.” 

The patients come from all services. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are assisted by AAFES staff. More than 6,000 injured troops have been helped by the AAFES personal shopper program in the last 10 months alone. 

Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying service members who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.

 Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone Cards Keep Families Connected

  DALLAS – Petty Officer 2nd Class Miller Shield and his family got lucky this year. His R&R occurred in late November, just in time for Thanksgiving. “We had a great time,” said his mother Deborah Carmon-Coleman. Just before he boarded a plane back to the Middle East earlier this month, Carmon-Coleman gave her son two Military Exchange Prepaid Phone cards for him to call home.

“Thanksgiving was great, but I knew Christmas would be tough,” said Carmon-Coleman. “With both my son and my daughter-in-law deployed, we needed the most cost effective way for us to stay in touch.”

As an employee of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Petty Officer 2nd Class Shield’s mother is “authorized” to shop in the same military exchanges he shops. The “PX/BX” is where Carmon-Coleman purchased the phone cards that will provide her son with more than four hours of phone calls between Bahrain and the United States .

Until the Department of Defense authorized exchanges to sell Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards to “non-authorized” exchange customers in April 2004, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and neighbors were often forced to purchase phone cards designed for calls within the “Continental United States” because family members who do not work for the military (like Carmon-Coleman) or aren’t married to an active-duty or retired military member are considered “non-dependent” family members that do not qualify as “authorized” exchange customers.

Now any American can “Help Our Troops Call Home” by sending Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards to deployed service members through www.aafes.org or 800-527-2345.

These phone cards deliver an instant morale boost with up to four and a half hours of talk time for calls placed from any overseas military installation worldwide to include 70 AAFES call centers in Iraq , Afghanistan , Kyrgyzstan or Kuwait .

“I just worry about parents who are unaware of their ability to purchase these cards,” said Carmon-Coleman. “Most phone cards are designed for calls between Boston and Philadelphia, not Baghdad to Poughkeepsie . Fortunately, when it comes to sending military exchange phone cards we are now all considered ‘authorized.’” 

Designed on a “global platform” for the specific needs of deployed troops, Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards’ minutes never expire and no additional charges or connection fees are ever added to rates as low as .19 cents a minute to call home from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Carmon-Coleman and her son won’t be the only ones on the phone before the New Year. In fact, troops deployed to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom logged more than fifteen million minutes in calls last December. This year AAFES estimates troops in contingency locations will spend more than 20 million minutes on the phone in December alone.

Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards purchased through www.aafes.org or 800-527-2345 can be sent to individual Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House, USO, Coalition to Salute America ’s Heroes, Operation Homefront or Operation Interdependence®.

 

 

Civilians Voluntarily Deploying to Middle East in Support of Deployed Troops

DALLAS – While most Americans plan to spend the next few weeks eating, shopping and generally having a great time with friends and family, many Department of Defense civilians will be leaving their homes and families for 6- to-12 month voluntary deployments to support Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Post and Base Exchanges (PXs and BXs) throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Friends for more than 25 years, Graphic Designers Gloria Michael and Kelly Northcutt have talked about deploying to live and work with the troops. With Michael getting closer to retirement, the two friends who live only six houses away from each other in Red Oak, Tex., decided now was the time to trek more than 7,000 miles to support troops half a world away.

Considering it will be her first time to travel outside the United States, Michael is understandably anxious. “I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t traveled a whole lot, but it is important that I take my support to our Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines on the front lines before I retire.”

With an itinerary that calls for the two “battle buddies” to depart for the Middle East on Dec. 17, both Michael and Northcutt are coming to terms with the fact that this upcoming holiday season will be their first away from spouses, children and grandchildren.

“We made the most out of Thanksgiving and loaded up on holiday cheer,” said Northcutt. “Hopefully, we can take some of that warmth and caring we shared to our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.” 

While Northcutt and Michael prepare for their first deployment, some civilians, like Kadena AB Burger King Manager Marjorie Granvle, will be redeploying this month. A 13-year AAFES associate, Granvle’s last deployment to Bosnia in 2000 was so rewarding that she signed up to spend the first half of 2007 with troops in the desert.

A wife and mother of two who has served the Armed Forces from Edwards AFB, Calif. to her current position in Okinawa, Granvle says her family is supportive of her decision to redeploy. “They are sad to see me leave, but with the faith, love and support that we share in our hearts, we will be together for the holidays. This is my opportunity to support the troops and my country.”

Currently, there are more than 450 volunteer AAFES associates like Granvle, Michael and Northcutt deployed in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. To date, 1,800 AAFES civilians have deployed to provide comfort items and necessities in combat and contingency locations. Service members depend on the PX/BX facilities these associates support for day-to-day health and comfort items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, snacks, beverages and entertainment items.

The merchandise assortment in the deployed environments typically includes basic health and hygiene items and snacks. Over time, that assortment is expanded to other items needed and requested by troops downrange. Today, AAFES stocks electronics, magazines, DVDs and even small appliances at its 58 PX/BX locations scattered throughout the contingency theater.

AAFES Lets Customers ‘TAKE IT HOME TODAY!’ 

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is expanding its “TAKE IT HOME TODAY!” initiative, which puts items of necessity and convenience immediately into the hands of military families the world over. With “TAKE IT HOME TODAY!,” service members can now immediately enjoy furniture, major appliances, carpeting, mattresses and box springs, as well as select electronics. 

The new plan, which was tested at select AAFES exchanges in the United States and overseas last year, includes benefits such as instant credit upon approval, no up front fees or down payment, a low interest rate and low monthly payments.

 “Our tests made it clear that shoppers were excited about the opportunity to make a furniture, appliance or other large purchase and take the product home that very same day,” said AAFES Exchange Credit Program  Business Analyst Colleen Youngblood. “With low interest rates and instant approval, military shoppers can now enjoy their purchase sooner.”

With a $299 minimum purchase, major appliances, 27 inch and larger TVs, carpeting, riding lawn mowers, large exercise equipment and spas may be purchased through the “TAKE IT HOME TODAY!” program. Accessories, including end tables, may also apply when they are purchased with a qualifying item.

“This program is perfectly targeted to meet the needs of today’s highly mobile military community, especially those members just starting military service or their families,” said AAFES’ Pacific Region Commander Col. Ann Borgmann. “Now members can immediately get the furnishings and appliances needed without incurring a large debt.”

“TAKE IT HOME TODAY!” is now available at all AAFES facilities that stock qualifying merchandise. Authorized exchange customers can contact their local exchange’s Store or General Manager for additional details. Specific store-level contact information is available online at www.aafes.com under the BX/PX Store Locator link.


Style and savings combine in new exchange jewelry catalog

DALLAS – The new 2006 Exchange Fall/Winter Jewelry supplement is now available.
With more than 40 pages of the latest trends and unforgettable classics, surprising that special someone this holiday season will be a breeze.

“Whether military service members are looking for fine diamond jewelry, precious gemstones, pearls or designer watches, the new catalog items will help set them apart from the crowd,” said Vice President of Direct Marketing Marie Clift.  “Along with the great values, customers who complete purchases on their Military Star Card receive no payments and no interest accrual for three months.”

The 2006 Exchange Holiday Supplement is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid through Feb. 15, 2007, for any authorized exchange customer. Active duty military members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as military retirees, reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas, exchange employees and their family members are all authorized exchange privileges.

Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone.  Toll free orders can be placed from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam at 800-527-2345.  The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week. Complimentary international access calling is also available from several countries.  Those numbers are:

    Germany             0800-82-16500
    Japan/Okinawa       00531-11-4132
    Korea                       00308-13-0664
    Italy                       8008-71227
    Belgium             0800-7-2432
    Netherlands         0800-022-1889
    United Kingdom      0800-96-8101
    Spain                       900-971-391
Turkey*                 00800-18-488-6312

* Calls cannot be placed from phones on base. Use off-base commercial lines.


AAFES Gift Cards Benefit More Than Just the Recipient

DALLAS – Americans love gift cards. In fact, industry analysts say that nationwide sales doubled over the past five years and are expected to hit $72.8 billion in 2006.

As usual, military families are right in step with their civilian counterparts, steadily increasing their demand for convenient Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) gift cards. And why not? From the purchaser, to the recipient, to military Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs that ultimately benefit from exchange patronage, AAFES gift cards meet the entire military community’s needs.

“I like to say that our gift cards work three times harder than any other,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. “They not only make purchases easy, but also ensure the recipient gets exactly what he or she wants at the best possible price while generating much needed revenue for MWR programs. The bottom line is that all gift cards are not created equal.”

While other cards may look similar to AAFES’, there can be differences in fees and expiration dates. In fact, the FDIC advises that some outlets charge for purchasing or even using their gift cards, while others impose expiration dates on use. AAFES limits military families’ potential for risk with gift cards that never expire and are only subject to a small $2 monthly fee after 24 consecutive months of non-use.

The patriotically inspired cards, available in red, white and blue, can be used the same as cash at AAFES facilities around the world.  To find out more about the AAFES Gift Card, see any cashier, log on to aafes.com or call 888-481-1550.


Tis the season for great shopping

DALLAS – Authorized exchange customers can get a jump-start on holiday shopping with the new 2006 Exchange Holiday Catalog.  Always a customer favorite, the new catalog offers more than 900 great gift ideas, with many under $20.  From holiday home décor to electronics, jewelry to fabulous gift baskets, the new Holiday supplement has just what military customers are looking for this season. 

 “Holiday shopping is quick, easy and economical with the new catalog,” said Vice President of Direct Marketing Marie Clift.  “In addition to finding the perfect gift for anyone in the family,  customers who complete purchases on their Military Star Card receive no payments and no interest accrual for three months.”

The 2006 Exchange Holiday Supplement is available at all main stores and online aafes.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid through Jan. 1, 2007, for any authorized exchange customer. Active duty military members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as military retirees, reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas, exchange employees and their family members are all authorized exchange privileges.

Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone.  Toll free orders can be placed from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam at 800-527-2345.  The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week. Complimentary international access calling is also available from several countries.  Those numbers are:

    Germany                   0800-82-16500
    Japan/Okinawa         00531-11-4132
    Korea                       00308-13-0664
    Italy                           8008-71227
    Belgium                     0800-7-2432
    Netherlands              0800-022-1889
    United Kingdom      0800-96-8101
    Spain                       900-971-391
     Turkey*                 00800-18-488-6312
* Calls cannot be placed from phones on base. Use off-base commercial lines.

Authorized customers can also shop the 2006 Exchange Holiday Supplement online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.


Who’s Authorized to Shop AAFES?

DALLAS - From Ft. Bragg to Baghdad, military installations the world over are home to more than 3,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) food, entertainment and retail options. From contractors to tourists to guests, Army posts and Air Force bases host a variety of visitors who often ask, “Who’s authorized to shop these facilities?”

“That’s probably the most common question I receive,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. “It stands to reason that visitors want to take advantage of the tax relief and competitive prices they’ve heard so much about, but AAFES doesn’t decide who is or isn’t authorized.” 

Exchange service authorization actually begins with the House Armed Services Committee and ultimately ends with the installation commander. The guidelines, as prescribed by Army Regulation 60-20 and Air Force Joint Instruction 34-210, require proper identification of authorized customers including uniformed personnel and members of the Reserve Components and family members, applicable Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, exchange associates and retirees who possess a basic exchange purchase privilege authorization card. Some government civilians also enjoy exchange shopping privileges when they are assigned or TDY overseas; or “TDY and residing” in government quarters on posts/bases in the United States.

The access of authorized customers’ guests is regulated by installation commanders who are empowered by service regulations to determine the guest policy for the main exchange at their respective base/post.

While authorizations governing who can buy merchandise and services can vary from location to location, the doors to AAFES’ 2,109 food facilities, including 1,806 name and signature brand outlets, are open to virtually anyone. In fact, DoD policy allows all federal government employees and even installation visitors to dine at AAFES restaurants as long as their orders are consumed on the installation.      

Anyone who believes they may qualify for exchange benefits including access to the main exchange should contact their local AAFES manager for additional guidance as well as information regarding possible exceptions at specific PX/BX locations. Store-level contact information is available online at www.aafes.com under the BX/PX “Store Locator” link.


From Forest Fires to Falluja, AAFES Goes Where the Troops Go

DALLAS – True to its motto of “We Go Where You Go,” the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has mobilized its next-generation Tactical Field Exchange (TFE) in support of some 550 active-duty Soldiers helping control wildfires that have burned across Washington’s Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests.

“AAFES has pulled off another superb operation in record time,” said AAFES’ Fort Lewis General Manager JW Merriman. “Our associates were able to open the exchange less than six hours after pulling into camp. We opened our doors at 8 p.m. and remained open until 10:30 p.m., serving exhausted troops who had just returned from fighting the 100,000-acre fire.”

The mobile equivalent of a stationary PX/BX found on an Army or Air Force installation, TFEs are 40 to 53 foot trailers (photos available upon request) that have been converted into mobile retail stores to support contingency deployments. Military operations in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo validated the need for this quality of life support to deployed service members, as did last year’s hurricane relief operations for Joint Task Forces Katrina and Rita. Once the TFE arrives on site, receives merchandise and sets up, usually done within 24 hours, the unit is open for business around the clock, as long as needed.

AAFES maintains a fleet of TFEs for use in support of training exercises, war zones and natural disasters. While the exterior of the TFE sent to Washington may look similar to those serving troops throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, all comparisons end with the paint and logo.

“Our new TFEs are being designed through lessons learned in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan,” said AAFES’ Chief of Contingency Plans Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “The feedback we are receiving indicates that the new units will result in better work environments for associates and reduced support requirements from supported units. The TFE in Washington is just the first in a group of self-sustaining exchanges AAFES will be deploying in the years to come.”

Like the older versions, the new TFEs carry a basic stock assortment that includes water, personal care items, basic clothing items, snacks, soft drinks and entertainment.

“While personal sacrifices and inconveniences are a way of life for troops, TFE support plays a significant role in enhancing morale, readiness and mission effectiveness,” said Lt. Col. Dean. “Whether troops are on patrol in a war zone or battling fires in the Pacific Northwest, TFEs make it possible for AAFES to provide support to almost every corner of the globe.”

Task Force Blaze, made up of many Fort Lewis units, is expected to last up to 30 days. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, requested the deployment due to a critical shortage of civilian firefighting crews and unfavorable weather forecasts. The task force includes 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment; 23rd Chemical Battalion; 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment; 4th Battalion, 6th Aviation Regiment; 29th Signal Battalion; and the 28th Public Affairs Detachment.


Would you like a side of boots with that order?

DALLAS – With the latest edition to the Exchange Online Store, busy troops can now assemble their uniforms with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The virtual exchange’s new “Uniform Ready-to-Wear” site makes it easy to complete uniform orders through one easy-to-use web page. The final product is shipped to the Soldier or Airmen’s door, ready to wear right out of the box, with no assembly required.

ACUs and BDUs can be ordered along with add-on items such as boots, belts, t-shirts and socks. For a small fee a local alterations contractor will even attach all nametapes, rank, insignia, badges and patches on BDUs before they are mailed.

“This is the most convenient way for an Airman or officer to purchase a set of BDUs,” said Army & Air Force Exchange Service Air Force Program Manager, Military Clothing Maj. Brian Schooley. “The uniform is delivered directly to the mailbox and once the local command patch is attached the uniform is ready to wear.”

Operational since July 24, the “Uniform Ready-to-Wear” site may be accessed by logging on to www.aafes.com. From there, military service members need only to select “Military Uniforms Ready-to-Wear” to begin creating their custom uniform.

“This is a great opportunity for active and reserve Soldiers in remote locations to purchase their ACUs,” said AAFES Army Program Manager, Military Clothing Maj. Lula Hart-Evans. “Assembling a complete uniform is now as simple as using a pull down menu.”


AAFES Associates “Walk a Mile” in Customer’s Boots

DALLAS – In concert with its motto, “We Go Where You Go,” the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) 45,635 associates deliver support to America’s military at more than 3,100 facilities worldwide. AAFES’ 883 active duty, National Guard and Reserve member associates bring a special understanding of their customer’s expectations, having served on both sides of the counter.

The Atlanta Distribution Center (ADC) is home to several associates who have first-hand knowledge of the benefit AAFES extends to troops throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Donald Jordan, for example, recently returned to the shipping department after a tour of duty in Iraq as a member of a recon scout team with a combat engineer unit. He says having a PX to visit was a bonus for his troops.

“The PX brought up my Soldiers’ morale, brought up morale for me,” said Jordan. “It was a nice place to relax and get away.”

Seeing the difference contingency PX/BXs make impacted Jordan beyond his immediate assignment in Iraq; it now influences his day-to-day work at home in Georgia.

“I took my work seriously before I deployed,” said Jordan. “But coming back, seeing how the guys were looking forward to stuff we ship makes me do my job here even better than before.”

The fact that the snacks, electronics and hygiene items sent from the ADC today will be enjoyed by troops in a war zone half a world away is a source of satisfaction for associates like Jordan. He knows that his work in Atlanta is directly impacting fellow service members who work and live in locations he too has served.

AAFES currently delivers a bit of home to deployed troops of all services through more than 450 associates voluntarily deployed to 56 PX/BX locations and 174 name brand fast food restaurants scattered throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.


Army & Air Force Exchange Service Names America’s ‘Top Troop Support’ Cities

DALLAS – Bumper stickers and buttons aside, support for America’s military can be difficult to measure. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has just concluded an analysis of orders to its “Gifts from the Homefront” troop support effort to help quantify the general public’s current level of support for deployed troops and recognize the efforts of everyday Americans who are actively making tangible contributions to military morale.

In the survey of 138 metro areas, Dallas, Texas distinguished itself as the #1 troop support city with 2,580 orders made on behalf of deployed troops, nearly three times as many as #2 New York City. After the top two slots, the margins become substantially slimmer with Washington D.C. edging out Hartford, Conn. and Sacramento, Calif. by just a handful of orders. Cleveland, Ohio, Peoria-Bloomington and Chicago, Ill. along with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Penn. rounded out the top 10 sending a total of 923 “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates.

While 12 states and the District of Columbia made the list, cities from California, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas accounted for more than half of the top 20 slots.

America’s “Top Troop Support” cities, based on “Gifts from the Homefront” sent from Jan. 1 through July 31, 2006 are:

        City                        “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates

    1. Dallas, Texas                                    2,580

    2. New York City, N.Y.                          923

    3. Washington, D.C.                                327

    4. Hartford, Conn.                                   322

    5. Sacramento, Calif.                               320

    6. Cleveland, Ohio                                  307

    7. Peoria-Bloomington, Ill.                       302

    8. Chicago, Ill.                                        254

    9. Pittsburgh, Penn.                                 211

    10. Philadelphia, Penn.                              193

    11. Ft. Worth, Texas                                181

    12. Los Angeles, Calif.                             142

    13. Norfolk-Portsmouth, Va.                    112

    14. San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.            110

    15. Honolulu, Hawaii                                  89

    16. Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.                        69

    17. Johnstown-Altoona, Penn.                    69

    18. Las Vegas, Nev.                                  59

    19. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.                   46

    20. San Antonio, Texas                              42

Since the Department of Defense authorized AAFES to begin “Gifts from the Homefront” in March 2003, people from all walks of life have rallied around America’s troops by sending nearly 69,000 gift certificates to troops stationed around the world.

“Gifts from the Homefront” certificates can be addressed to “any service member” or specific military personnel. The Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence®, Soldier & Family Assistance Center or USO have been integral in the distribution of certificates earmarked for “any service member.” To date, these charities have distributed 18,977 certificates, totaling $328,325.

AAFES is charged with providing retail merchandise and services to troops stationed throughout the world, including those in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Today, a small army of deployed AAFES civilians operate 52 modern “PX/BX” retail facilities scattered throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and Djibouti. Troops in these locations depend on these stores to deliver an evolving stock assortment of familiar products such as cold drinks, portable video game systems and, a must for troops with young families, phone cards.

Any American can leverage AAFES’ supply chain on behalf of deployed troops through the “Gifts from the Homefront” campaign. This troop support campaign allows anyone to make a direct contribution to military morale with a gift certificate that can be redeemed for nearly anything that a specific service member wants.

“Americans throughout the country understand that ‘PX/BX’ gift certificates are the most efficient and affordable way to deliver care packages to a war zone,” said Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. “Whether it’s a Rolling Stones CD and a copy of this month’s Sports Illustrated or the new Charmed DVD and some moisturizing sunscreen, that Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine gets support that is tailored to their needs.”

“Gifts from the Homefront” can be sent to troops deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas by logging on to www.aafes.org or calling 877-770-4438. From there, “Gifts from the Homefront” are sent to individual service members (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence®, Soldier & Family Assistance Center or USO.



Welcome Fall with the New 2006 Exchange Fall/Winter Home Décor Supplement

DALLAS – With the new Exchange Fall/Winter Home Décor Catalog, military families can now enjoy more than 700 items specifically designed to help decorate, update and maximize their homes before friends and family arrive for the holidays. The 2006 edition puts 84 pages of new and proven products into military shoppers’ hands.

“This new catalog makes it easy for troops and their families to reflect the change of season in their home décor,” said Vice President of Direct Marketing Marie Clift.  “In addition to great values on bedroom furniture, outdoor patio and leather furniture groups, customers who complete purchases on their Military Star Card receive no payments and no interest accrual for three months.”

The 2006 Exchange Fall/Winter Home Décor Supplement is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid through Dec. 31, 2006, for any authorized exchange customer. Active duty military members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, as well as military retirees, reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians stationed overseas, exchange employees and their family members are all authorized exchange privileges.

Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone.  Toll free orders can be placed from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam at 800-527-2345.  The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week. Complimentary international access calling is also available from several countries.  Those numbers are:

    Germany                  0800-82-16500
    Japan/Okinawa       00531-11-4132
    Korea                       00308-13-0664
    Italy                       8008-71227
    Belgium                  0800-7-2432
    Netherlands             0800-022-1889
    United Kingdom      0800-96-8101
    Spain                       900-971-391
     Turkey*                 00800-18-488-6312
* Calls cannot be placed from phones on base. Use off-base commercial lines.

Authorized customers can also shop the 2006 Exchange Fall/Winter Home Decor Supplement online at aafes.com


Still Serving’ Delivers Exclusive Savings to Military Retirees

DALLAS – A slew of special offers and coupons, as well as a couple of sweepstakes opportunities, are just a few of the exclusive promotions military retirees will find in the new “Still Serving” booklet, scheduled to hit mailboxes in September. As part of its annual three-day salute to “those who served,” the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will begin mailing more than one million of the packets during the third week of August.

At 42 percent, retirees represent the largest portion of the exchanges’ 11.7 million authorized customers. As such, the booklet, chock-full of exclusive offers, is a proactive effort to retain exchange shoppers whose business continues to directly impact active duty families’ day-to-day lives.

“Without year round retiree patronage, AAFES wouldn’t have been able to return an average FY ’05 per capita dividend of $271 for every Soldier and Airman, in addition to the dividends paid to the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Vice President of Direct Marketing Marie Clift. “Whether or not they choose to shop the exchange goes beyond dollars and cents; it is a quality of life issue for the entire military community. Reminding retirees that we’re here to serve them is critical in allowing AAFES to fulfill its dual mission of providing quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generating earnings to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.”   

With discounts on gas, coffee, jewelry, electronics, footwear, eyewear, flowers, hardware, clothing…even soda, competitive low pricing is exactly what the 2006 booklet delivers. “Still Serving” savings aren’t limited to local “brick and mortar” exchanges. In fact, Exchange Online Store and catalog offers have been incorporated into two of the booklet’s 12 pages. In addition to money saving opportunities, veterans will also find details on how to enter two “Still Serving” Sweepstakes, with prizes that include a $500 www.aafes.com shopping spree, a treadmill valued at $589 and a $499 music system.  

“All of our associates love this time of year,” said Clift. “It’s an awesome chance to not only recognize retirees for their past contributions to our country, but also salute them for their continued tangible support of the military community.”

While the “Still Serving” booklet offers year round savings, PXs and BXs throughout CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as participating European and Pacific locations, will host “Still Serving” celebrations with unique specials and events from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. Throughout the weekend, AAFES’ main stores will host drawings, free refreshments and product samples, vendor demonstrations, door prizes, shopping-cart bingo, makeovers and fashion shows. 

 Authorized exchange customers can learn more about activities planned for the weekend of Sept. 29 at their specific exchange by calling their local store manager. Contact information can be found online at aafes.com by clicking on the “store locator” link.


CONUS stores now accept Voyager for payment at pump

DALLAS – To help accommodate more military fleet customers and to speed up fueling transactions, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service now accepts Voyager credit cards for payment at its gasoline pumps at its CONUS locations.

Previously, Voyager credit cards were only authorized when military customers physically went into AAFES facilities to pay because of software limitations that didn’t allow verification of user information at the pump. This limited the use of the card to the hours the facility was attended. Now, anything from officer staff cars to motor pool vehicles can fill up and pay with Voyager at the pump at anytime, day or night.

“AAFES finance and technology directorates worked together for the last two years to make this option available,” said AAFES Chief Financial Officer Mike Howard. “Adding Voyager to the pump is a way to ensure we are serving military communities’ needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

AAFES information technology associates had to reprogram the gas pumps to accept information required by Voyager, such as driver identification number and odometer readings.

Roughly 260 AAFES shoppettes now accept Voyager for payment at the pump.    


Military STAR® Card Strengthens Troops’ Return on Investment

DALLAS – Every time troops use bank issued cards at their exchange, it costs the military community millions of dollars that could be directed to Morale, Welfare and Recreation efforts.

Last year alone, bank issued card processing expenses at Army & Air Force Exchange Service facilities jumped 17.53 percent, ultimately sapping more than $65 million from the Exchange and, in turn, critical MWR programs in 2005. Since 2001, AAFES and its customers have paid more than $246 million to the owners and stockholders of issuing banks, resulting in lost revenues for the Exchange and MWR programs.

“Traditionally, two-thirds of AAFES earnings are paid to MWR, while the other one-third is returned to the military community in the form of improvements, such as technology investments or capital expenditures to enhance the shopping experience,” said AAFES’ Chief Financial Officer Mike Howard. “With 100 percent of AAFES earnings going back to authorized customers in one way or another, something as seemingly insignificant as credit card processing fees can quickly add up to a quality of life issue.”

One way military families can help reduce costs and ultimately strengthen their Exchange benefit is to take advantage of the Exchanges’ exclusive Military STAR® Card. Unlike bank cards, profits generated from the Military STAR® Card are shared with military communities through contributions to the military service's MWR funds. These funds reduce the tax burden of all U.S. citizens, and are used to build libraries, child care centers, gymnasiums, bowling alleys and recreational facilities for service members and their families around the world.

“Using the Military STAR® Card is one of the easiest ways for troops to directly impact their Exchange and MWR benefits,” said Howard. “Reducing these unnecessary expenses can go a long way in maximizing the dividend AAFES annually returns to the military community.”

The Military STAR® Card is accepted at AAFES, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Exchange activities, as well as the Exchange Catalog and the Exchange Online store at www.aafes.com.

For more information on the Military STAR® Card, visit www.aafes.com and click on the Military STAR® Card icon.  


AAFES to honor retirees Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 

  DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's 2006 recognition of military retirees will take place Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 at Post Exchanges and Base Exchanges throughout CONUS, Alaska , Hawaii , Puerto Rico, Guam, and at participating Europe and Pacific locations.

In addition to special sales and events at each AAFES main store, this year's "Still Serving" weekend will include an exclusive mailer sent directly to approximately 1.4 million military retirees.

With retirees representing nearly half of AAFES’ military households, the exchange maintains a strong relationship with retirees throughout the entire year. “Retirees make up 43 percent of our military sponsors eligible to shop AAFES exchanges,” said AAFES’ Vice President of Direct Marketing Angela Borck. “While we pause to formally recognize these important customers during this special annual event, AAFES and its associates recognize that military retirees actively make contributions to the military community's quality of life 365 days a year.”

Every time retirees choose to shop at the exchange, they provide needed support for Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, facilities and non-appropriated fund construction projects such as bowling and youth centers, golf courses and outdoor recreation. “Retiree support plays a big part in AAFES’ annual dividend,” said Borck “Without their support it would not have been possible for AAFES to return more than $230 million to Armed Forces MWR programs last year.” 

Throughout the "Still Serving" weekend, PXs and BXs across the globe will host drawings, free refreshments and product samples, vendor demonstrations, door prizes, shopping-cart bingo, makeovers and fashion shows. 

Authorized exchange customers can learn about activities planned for the weekend of Sept. 29 at their specific exchange by calling their local store manager. Contact information can be found online at aafes.com by clicking on the “store locator” link.


Get paid for shopping online as a “Mystery Shopper”

DALLAS – Every industry has a way of monitoring performance in the eyes of their customers. For television, it’s ratings. For the success of a sporting team, it’s wins. For retail stores, it’s sales, of course, as well as customer comments and observations.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is reenergizing its focus on delivering exceptional customer service by upgrading its “Mystery Shopper” program, newly launched March 1.

AAFES’ updated program aims to improve customer service and provide an improved product assortment by using authorized PX/BX customers as anonymous mystery shoppers who review and evaluate how well their PX/BX is delivering the exchange benefit every day. 

The new program provides shoppers with a standardized list of questions to answer and requires that they evaluate issues, such as customer service, quality of product, brands offered, available sizes and price ranges.

“Mystery Shoppers” answer a few simple questions such as:

  • Was the store clean?

  • Were the associates polite?

  • Was the item you wanted in stock?

“Getting feedback from our customers is valuable to all stores and levels of management within the company,” said AAFES VP of Direct Marketing Angela Borck. “It’s a snapshot in time of the daily store operations. As such, it is an excellent tool for improving customer satisfaction.”

Authorized customers may apply to become a “Mystery Shopper” via the “Mystery Shopper” link at www.aafes.com.  Shoppers are selected from a pool of applicants at each Exchange location and as appreciation for their time, “Mystery Shoppers” receive a $30 AAFES gift certificate for each valid survey set submitted.


Red Cross Volunteer Loves Her Work in Iraq
(Courtesy of Sgt. Waine D. Haley, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

TIKRIT, Iraq (April 2006) - Everyday, women are making history here in Iraq , but one Red Cross worker is making history one family at a time.   Heather Ross, Assistant Station Manager, Tikrit-American Red Cross, might not make the history books but she is a part of the Soldiers' and their families' history while in Iraq .

 Ross started as a volunteer with the Red Cross in the United States . This is her fourth trip to this area and she is completing her second year in Iraq .  "I love this job - I absolutely love this job," Ross said. "I love working with the Soldiers - I love hearing their stories - I love being part of this." The main mission for the Red Cross is to provide a communication link between the American public and the Armed Forces.

Ross and the other two members of her team assist the units and the Soldiers in making a decision as to when a Soldier needs to go home on emergency leave. The team also gets to relay good-news messages to Soldiers that might be hard to contact. The Tikrit office also provides some additional services that boost moral such as a coffee shop, giving away free gift cards for phone calls and Army and Air Force Exchange Service also known as the PX, and giving away free bags of coffee. All of the products handed out are donated by businesses and people that support the Armed Services.

 AAFES receives donations from military supporters for the gift checks and they also donate some on there own behalf. Thousands of dollars in phone cards and thousands of pounds of coffee are just some of the other things donated by military supporters in the United States . Ross and her team often stand outside the chow hall and hand out the gifts as people come through. If someone looks grumpy they might get a gift check just to cheer them up.    "Every once-in-awhile you get to touch someone's life at a personal level," Ross said. "We have people all over the world but I feel like it means something to be over here.


From Retail to Restaurants; “We Go Where You Go”

Dallas – Since the first formal exchanges were established in 1895, an exchange system has served side-by-side with troops in tents and trucks, in the field and in permanent facilities, on posts and bases around the world.

While the mission remains virtually the same as it was nearly 111 years ago, the scope of Army & Air Force Exchange Service operations has never been more extensive or necessary as it is today.

Currently, there are more than 450 volunteer AAFES associates deployed in support of America’s military. To date, 1,601 AAFES associates have deployed to dangerous places around the world since September 2001. These associates, and the rapidly deployed facilities they operate, often provide the only source of comfort items and necessities in combat locations. AAFES’ presence in Iraq is a case in point: the first PX/BX opened in Tallil in early April 2004, before Baghdad fell.

Today, service members rely on 56 direct operating exchanges scattered throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom for day-to-day health and comfort items, such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. These large retail operations, in addition to 39 smaller military-operated activities called Imprest Funds, are the primary providers of snacks, beverages and entertainment items for deployed troops.

In addition to delivering traditional retail products to the contingency theater, AAFES operates 68 call centers with 1,742 phones that provide calls to the United States for as little as 19 cents a minute. With an average usage of more than 14 million minutes each month, these facilities are critical to maintaining the link to family and friends back home. 

Providing familiar tastes and aromas, the presence of name brand fast food continues to grow. In fact, AAFES currently operates more than 150 fast food outlets downrange including 28 Subways, 16 Burger Kings, 12 Pizza Huts, five Taco Bells and more than 40 various coffee shops.

AAFES also provides a variety of services to deployed troops to include barber, beauty, photo and gift shops, as well as alterations and even relaxing day spas. While AAFES is able to provide access to local wares and souvenirs including artwork, jewelry and rugs, the merchandise assortment in deployed environments typically includes basic health and hygiene items and snacks.

“Over time, the assortment expands to other items needed and requested by troops,” said AAFES’ Chief of Contingency Plans Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “AAFES now sells electronics, magazines, DVDs and even small appliances. Many service members purchase DVD players, second-generation video game consoles and laptop computers at exchanges throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. We are continually adjusting the stock assortment to meet the unique needs of troops serving far from home.”

Since its establishment in 1895, AAFES has been involved in 14 major contingencies (to include the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) and several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. Nowadays, AAFES operates worldwide in more than 30 countries, five U.S. territories and 49 states (not Rhode Island).

“AAFES motto, ‘We Go Where You Go,’ best summarizes its commitment to America’s modern fighting force,” said Lt. Col. Dean. “AAFES provides exceptional support to troops serving in deployed areas. The scope and intensity of the operations are clear signs that wherever our troops serve, AAFES is dedicated to providing them competitively low prices on the services and merchandise they need…and want…in order to enhance their quality of life.”


AAFES Matches Lower Prices

Dallas – Since they were established in 1895, the military exchanges’ mission has essentially been the same: provide necessary merchandise and services to the military. While the retail landscape has changed dramatically over the past 110 years, PXs and BXs of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service are constantly seeking initiatives that meet the needs of troops and their families in the most affordable manner possible.

“Maintaining the strength of the exchange benefit in today’s competitive retail environment is no easy task,” said AAFES’ Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “It is only through proactive surveying and review that we can ensure that AAFES prices are routinely lower than the competition.”

Even with consistent monitoring, AAFES found it necessary to institute a program that would ensure that, in the event AAFES doesn’t have the lowest price; authorized customers always receive the best price.

Today’s “We’ll Match It!” effort works in two ways. First, if customers see a price differential of less than $10 they can tell the cashier who will match it on the spot. Customers who report a price difference of greater than $10 dollars need only to bring a current local competitor’s ad to receive the reduced price. In either case the competitor’s item, of course, must be identical to the item in the AAFES store.

“AAFES is committed to having low prices,” said Lt. Col. Pressley. “‘We’ll Match It’ is simply our last line of defense. After AAFES conducts national surveys and associates from the store level compare local prices, the customer has this program to make sure no one missed anything.”

“We’ll Match It!” promotes AAFES as a price leader with a pledge that retail stores will match competitors’ current, local price on any identical stock assortment. In addition to this same-day pledge, AAFES also offers a 30-day price guarantee on any item originally purchased from AAFES and subsequently sold at a lower price by AAFES, or another local competitor (excluding unauthorized dealers and warehouse clubs).

Since AAFES does have a dual mission to provide quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to supplement Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, there are exceptions to the “We’ll Match It!” program. Except for the Exchange Catalog and aafes.com, stores cannot accept challenges from any catalog or website. Other exclusions include “gimmick” promotions, warehouse clubs, special order automotive parts, gasoline, automotive labor/service, double and triple coupons, clearance items, flat percentage off items and vending items.

“We’ll Match It!” is available every day of the year exclusively at AAFES facilities around the world. Purchases from the Exchange generate funds for much needed Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. In 2004, AAFES contributed more than $242 million dollars to MWR in support of youth activities, outdoor recreation, bowling facilities and other quality of life programs on military installations worldwide.


AAFES Restricts Purchase Medicines Containing Dextromethorphan

  DALLAS – Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a common cough-suppressing ingredient contained in more than 140 over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. When taken as directed and used properly, DXM is safe, but recent media reports and research indicate abuse of DXM is becoming more of an issue than previously thought.

While there is not yet a legal requirement to flag products with this ingredient, as of Jan. 24 AAFES is voluntarily limiting sales of products with DXM to customers over the age of 18.

A message on the cash register will alert cashiers to verify the age of the person buying products with DXM. Customers can still find cough and cold medicines with DXM in the Health and Beauty Care department of their BX/PX. The only difference customers will encounter will be at checkout.

“AAFES wants to be proactive when it comes to the health of military service members,”

said AAFES Senior Vice President Sales Directorate Maggie Burgess. “It is our hope that monitoring DXM sales will ensure our military families are not susceptible to abuse.”


Families Hail AAFES’ Program to Help Injured Troops  

DALLAS – When military service members are injured in Operations Enduring or Iraqi Freedom, that trauma is made all the more difficult by an arduous transition process from the battlefield. Troops are often flown immediately to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with little more than the clothes on their backs and identification around their necks. From there, wounded troops recuperate at U.S. medical centers and begin reintegration into civilian life.

Walter Gardiner understands the challenges injured troops evacuated from a war zone face first hand. His son, Sgt. Ryan Gardiner, was medically evacuated from Baghdad after sustaining injuries in the global war on terrorism.

When Sgt. Gardiner reached the hospital in Germany , he had nothing to his name until an Army and Air Force Exchange Service personal shopper arrived on the scene. Armed with underwear, socks and a change of clothes, the civilian associate brought more than products, he delivered comfort to a Soldier in need.       

“When someone else cares about my son’s needs as much as his mom and dad do, it brings a sense of belonging to a special family,” said Gardiner.

AAFES associates Shane Warren and Charlotte Stobie are personal shoppers who visit with troops, make a list, then go to the Exchange and select the items.  They return to the hospital and hand deliver items to injured troops.

“It is an honor to help these young men,” Warren said. “I was once wounded and brought to Landstuhl so I know what it means to have a friendly face at a time when you are alone and frightened. You feel the hurt when they get to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center . Our job is to make them feel better. We are here for the people who fight to protect us.” 

The patients come from all services. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are assisted by AAFES staff. More than 6,000 injured troops have been helped by the AAFES personal shopper program in the last 10 months alone. 

Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying service members who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom. 


 Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone Cards Keep Families Connected

  DALLAS – Petty Officer 2nd Class Miller Shield and his family got lucky this year. His R&R occurred in late November, just in time for Thanksgiving. “We had a great time,” said his mother Deborah Carmon-Coleman. Just before he boarded a plane back to the Middle East earlier this month, Carmon-Coleman gave her son two Military Exchange Prepaid Phone cards for him to call home.

“Thanksgiving was great, but I knew Christmas would be tough,” said Carmon-Coleman. “With both my son and my daughter-in-law deployed, we needed the most cost effective way for us to stay in touch.”

As an employee of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Petty Officer 2nd Class Shield’s mother is “authorized” to shop in the same military exchanges he shops. The “PX/BX” is where Carmon-Coleman purchased the phone cards that will provide her son with more than four hours of phone calls between Bahrain and the United States .

Until the Department of Defense authorized exchanges to sell Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards to “non-authorized” exchange customers in April 2004, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and neighbors were often forced to purchase phone cards designed for calls within the “Continental United States” because family members who do not work for the military (like Carmon-Coleman) or aren’t married to an active-duty or retired military member are considered “non-dependent” family members that do not qualify as “authorized” exchange customers.

Now any American can “Help Our Troops Call Home” by sending Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards to deployed service members through www.aafes.org or 800-527-2345.

These phone cards deliver an instant morale boost with up to four and a half hours of talk time for calls placed from any overseas military installation worldwide to include 70 AAFES call centers in Iraq , Afghanistan , Kyrgyzstan or Kuwait .

“I just worry about parents who are unaware of their ability to purchase these cards,” said Carmon-Coleman. “Most phone cards are designed for calls between Boston and Philidelphia, not Baghdad to Poughkeepsie . Fortunately, when it comes to sending military exchange phone cards we are now all considered ‘authorized.’” 

Designed on a “global platform” for the specific needs of deployed troops, Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards’ minutes never expire and no additional charges or connection fees are ever added to rates as low as .19 cents a minute to call home from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Carmon-Coleman and her son won’t be the only ones on the phone before the New Year. In fact, troops deployed to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom logged more than fifteen million minutes in calls last December. This year AAFES estimates troops in contingency locations will spend more than 20 million minutes on the phone in December alone.

Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards purchased through www.aafes.org or 800-527-2345 can be sent to individual Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House, USO, Coalition to Salute America ’s Heroes, Operation Homefront or Operation Interdependence®.


Familiar Food Delivers a Slice of American Life to Troops in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom

DALLAS – While Thanksgiving may conjure up thoughts of lazy days filled with stuffed turkey, yams, family, football and, of course, pumpkin pie, many of America ’s bravest will be lucky to pause 30 minutes in the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan to acknowledge the holiday.

For troops deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, their Thanksgiving feast may be a Turkey sandwich at the Baghdad Subway, an Orange Julius in Kabul , Afghanistan , or even a Big Mac at the Aerial Port of Debarkation-Life Support Area McDonald’s in Kuwait .           

All of these, including more than 100 other name brand fast food locations in and around Iraq , Afghanistan and Kuwait , are operated on secure military installations by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for deployed troops.

“AAFES even has a food court with a Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Cinnabon, Taco Bell and Popeye’s all co-located at Camp Cooke in Iraq ,” said AAFES’ Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “The smells, the sights and the sounds can instantly transport troops, however briefly, from war zones to comfort zones.”

Through AAFES’ “Gifts from the Homefront” program, anyone can play a part in delivering this “comfort food” to Americans who will be spending their holidays on the front line of the Global War on Terrorism.

By simply logging on to aafes.org or calling 1-877-770-4438, any individual, civic organization or business can purchase a gift certificate that can be redeemed for burgers, pizzas, chicken or tacos at any of the popular fast food outlets scattered throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates can be sent to a specific Soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House or USO.

AAFES officials report that demand for fast food in the contingency theater is insatiable. In fact, the overwhelming craving for Whoppers and fries by the troops at Camp Liberty , Iraq , necessitated the need for AAFES to open a mobile Burger King this past summer.

“Before we introduced the mobile unit, Camp Liberty ’s stationary Burger King was serving up more than 300 apple pies, 1,100 Whoppers and 450 pounds of French fries to 1,200 customers a day,” said Lt. Col. Pressley.  

The mobile Burger King, featuring a standard menu of Whoppers, chicken sandwiches and fries, operates from a custom-fabricated truck fitted with a kitchen designed to produce Whoppers anywhere troops are deployed. The mobile unit boasts a full-size broiler, capable of cooking up to 200 meat patties an hour, and two fryers for chicken sandwiches and fries.

“If you can’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with family, your true loved ones such as your parents, children and friends, there’s no better alternative than eating comfort food with your military family,” said Lt. Col. Pressley. “I hope every American family enjoying the holiday will make a point to log on or call to help show our military that while they may be gone, they are not forgotten.”  


 Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) among Black Professionals Magazine’s Top 25 Companies for African-Americans

  DALLAS – Black Professionals Magazine has named AAFES one of its Top 25 companies for African-Americans.

Black Professionals Magazine, a quarterly publication, surveyed 500 of America ’s major corporations for its Fall 2005 Career issue regarding the representation of African-Americans in senior and middle management, corporate boards, corporate diversity programs and the overall workforce diversity initiatives.

AAFES is proud to be recognized as a leader in workforce diversity as it mirrors the military members it serves,” said AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “Valuing and managing diversity is a great competitive business advantage and we appreciate the contributions each AAFES associate brings to the success of our organization.”

“Workforce diversity positively influences the corporate bottom line and it is essential in keeping companies globally competitive,” said L.P. Green II, the publisher of Black Professionals Magazine. “We know that diversity initiatives have taken great strides in corporate America , but there is room not only for acknowledgement, but improvement. We applaud those companies that have set the standard and have become leaders in the effort.”

AAFES operates more than 3,100 facilities worldwide, in more than 30 countries, five U.S. territories and 49 states. With $8.3 billion in annual revenue and more than 48,000 associates, AAFES remains committed to its mission of providing products and services to military service members, retirees and their families worldwide.


Congress concerned about shipping costs to downrange locations

DALLAS – “A typical (military) family can easily spend $1,500 a year shipping shampoo, baby powder, bedding, phone cards, toothpaste and similar items (to Iraq and Afghanistan).” These are the disturbing findings of New York Congressman Vito Fossella, Jr.

Fossella, along with more than a 100 Congressional Representatives, has been taking a close look at the cost of military mail. His findings confirm what advocates of deployed troops have long known; mailing care packages to troops overseas is extremely expensive.

To combat prohibitive shipping fees, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service offers two initiatives that make it easy and affordable to support military families and troops.

The first effort is called “Gifts from the Homefront.” This program relies on more than 55 exchanges, filled with shampoo, baby powder, bedding and more, in and around Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. An efficient military logistics operation ensures these “PX/BX” operations are stocked with the health and beauty items, movies and comfort foods troops desire.

Service members can redeem “Gift from the Homefront” gift certificates at Tactical Exchanges throughout the Middle East for items priced the same, if not less, than family and friends would find in the United States .

“‘Gifts from the Homefront’ save the sender money and put the choice of what items the Soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor want back into their hands,” said AAFES Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “Military men and women use the gift certificate just like cash to buy their favorite foods, DVDs and other comfort items.”

Reports from Iraq and Afghanistan indicate “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates, available at www.aafes.org or by calling 877-770-4438, are being redeemed for snacks, soft drinks and CDs. Because, all of these items have already been shipped to field Exchanges in Iraq and are available at stateside prices, gift certificates addressed to “any service member” are subject to a flat shipping charge of only $4.95 for orders of $5 to $5,000.

“For only $4.95 shipping anyone could send up to $5,000 worth of ‘Gifts from the Homefront,’” said Pressley. “At 65 cents a bar, that would be the equivalent of 7,692 bars of Dial soap.”

As Rep. Fossella understands, phone cards provide a critical link between the front lines and the home front. AAFES’ “Help Our Troops Call Home” program was created for this very reason.

The second initiative, called “Help Our Troops Call Home,” utilizes the Military Exchange Global Prepaid platform to provide phone cards designed for the unique needs of deployed troops. With rates as low as 19 cents a minute, Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards, available in denominations ranging from $14.99 to $39, can provide more than two hours of talk time from any of 68 phone centers located throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Anyone who wants to support our troops through “Gifts from the Homefront” or “Help Our Troops Call Home” can log on to aafes.org to participate. Gifts certificates are also available toll free at 877-770-4438, phone cards can be sent by calling 800-527-2345. Both forms of support can be sent to an individual service member (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House or USO.

“$1,500 is too much money for military families to pay just for shipping,” said Pressley. “Away from home and in a war zone, simple things like these gift certificates and phone cards make all the difference in a difficult environment and make life away from home just a little more bearable.”


Civilian retailer delivers copycat uniforms to unsuspecting Soldier

DALLAS While Soldiers await the arrival of the new Army Combat Uniform, the Army & Air Force Exchange and Army G-1 Uniform Policy Section are receiving numerous complaints regarding commercial retailers offering look-alike uniforms that do not meet the Army’s specifications for quality and design.

“Some commercial outlets are aggressively appealing to Soldiers awaiting the arrival of the official ACU in January,” said Military Clothing Sales Store Army Program Manager Maj. Rachel Danielson.

AAFES has received complaints regarding commercial retailers delivering non-spec uniforms while representing themselves as an official MCSS. An Army Reserve staff sergeant who received a look-alike uniform advised of numerous problems.

There was no NSN number on the label,” wrote Staff Sgt. Grant Von Letkemann. “The top did not have a bellowed back, the arm pockets did not have the IR square or the covering tab, there was no pen pocket on the left sleeve, and the zippers were not as described in the PEO one sheet for the ACU. The bottoms did not have a draw string on the hip pocket, there were cinch straps on the sides, and no drawstring in the front. The flag was not the (correct) size…I looked at the invoice and saw that there was no AAFES logo or letterhead. The invoice had the title ‘Military Clothing Sales Store MCSS.’”

Army Regulation 670-1 states, “Soldiers purchasing uniforms, uniform items, or heraldic items from establishments other than the Army military clothing sales store must ensure the items are authorized for wear and conform to appropriate military specifications or are manufactured in accordance with the UQCP (Uniform Quality Control Program) or the heraldic quality control system.”

“Soldiers and commanders are responsible for ensuring they are purchasing and wearing uniforms that are authorized for wear,” said Major Danielson. “Unfortunately, a retailer falsely representing themselves as an AAFES MCSS can make it very difficult for troops to fulfill this responsibility.”

AAFES MCSS stores are operated only on military installations. All AAFES-operated MCSS stores are listed by installation under the “store locator” link at www.aafes.com


Shoplifting, a high price crime

DALLAS – Military service members spend years building careers on values such as trust, competency and responsibility, all which can come crashing down with one shoplifting incident. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has several avenues to prevent shoplifting, and supports legislation to recover stolen merchandise.

AAFES Loss Prevention associates focus on deterring shoplifting by identifying areas that tend to have high pilferage rates. These areas include electronics, sporting goods and cosmetics. Most AAFES exchanges have some type of surveillance, whether it is cameras, detectives or both to monitor these areas and try to prevent shoplifting before it occurs.

If a customer has passed the opportunity to pay for merchandise, loss prevention associates turn the issue to military police. In addition to action pursued by military police, the Federal Claims Collection Act allows AAFES to enact a Civil Recovery Program, which began March 1, 2002. The flat, administrative cost, applicable to every shoplifting incidence, is $200 and there may be further fees depending on the condition of the recovered stolen merchandise.

“The costs involved in shoplifting affects more than just the shoplifter,” said AAFES Loss Prevention Vice President David Drake. “AAFES has a mission to return dividends to Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, so it ultimately affects everyone.”

Shoplifting in military exchanges cost service members millions of dollars annually. In fact, AAFES detained 9,076 shoplifters in 2004 alone.

Civil Recovery allows AAFES to recoup some of the cost associated with shoplifting; however, the damage to a career and reputation can be irreparable.


Deploying Troops Discover the STAR® Treatment

DALLAS – In an attempt to ease the financial stress associated with assignment to contingency locations overseas, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) offers two Military STAR® Card options to deploying troops.

Military STAR® cardholders on their way to locations in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom may be eligible for a plan that offers: a six percent interest rate with no monthly payments and deployment credit limits or an option that also provides six percent interest rate with monthly allotment payments and increased credit limits. A deployed credit limit stabilizes the credit limit for the length of deployment while an increased credit limit raises credit limits while deployed.

Further benefits of both options include no annual or late fees, online account management and exclusive promotional offers.

Keith Howell, Exchange Credit Program Marketing manager, explained that the unique options offer powerful financial tools for the exclusive use of deployed troops. “This is a great opportunity for deployed service members to effectively manage their finances while they are stationed in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom,” said Howell.

While the nearly 60 AAFES PX/BXs located throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom do accept other credit cards, the Military STAR® Card offers more benefits and assistance than many other cards.

The Military STAR credit program is specifically tailored to service members and their family’s credit needs. Its many financial benefits include a 24 hours/7 days per week online and call center account management capability; exclusive special promotions; and FREE standard shipping on Exchange Catalog and Exchange Online Store purchases at www.aafes.com. Military STAR cardholders are also not subject to over limit, late payment or annual fees which can amount to as much as 37 percent of other credit cards issuers’ income. 

For more information on the Military STAR® Card, visit aafes.com and click on the Military STAR® Card icon.  


AAFES/BK Give Away Mustangs: One Down, Two to Go 

     DALLAS - Every now and then military family members are entitled to a little luck, and this time that honor was bestowed on one lucky spouse who has claimed a 2006 Ford Mustang courtesy of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Burger King (photo available upon request). Peggy Clark, winner of the "Dog Tagg Drill Call" Game, collected all four game pieces of the four AAFES Burger King characters "The Grill Instructor," "Major Money," the "Grill Instructor's Mom," and the Grill Instructor's dog, "Tagg." Clark and her husband, Staff Sgt. Lyn Clark, were on their way from their home in Germany to Normandy and Paris to celebrate his recent return from Iraq when they collected all four of the game pieces needed to win one of the three grand prizes. "We went through the Burger King drive thru for breakfast, then pulled over to eat," said Clark. Before breakfast was over, they had won a 2006 Ford Mustang. 

      "We got all four pieces at that moment and couldn't believe it!" she exclaimed. The grand prizes of the AAFES Burger King "Dog Tagg Drill Call" contest are three 2006 Ford Mustangs. Clark was the winner of the Ford Mustang designated for Europe. There are still two unclaimed Ford Mustangs, one earmarked for the Pacific region and the other for CONUS. Game pieces were available on 32 oz. and 42 oz. soft drinks, the Angus or Tendercrisp(tm) sandwiches, or breakfast sandwiches. Service members, retirees and their families also had up to three chances to win by ordering any King Size Value Meal. While the game pieces are no longer being distributed, there are still prizes waiting to be claimed. 

      "We still have two unclaimed 2006 Ford Mustangs along with other prizes," said Phil Story, senior restaurant program manager. "Burger King guests have until June 20, 2005, to claim their prizes, so it is not too late to redeem winning game pieces. We encourage authorized AAFES customers to check their wallets, desk drawers and glove boxes; anywhere they might have left a game piece." AAFES' "Dog Tagg Drill Call" contest was held worldwide exclusively in Burger King restaurants on military installations from March 7 - April 18, 2005. Military service members and their families stationed in the United States and abroad were eligible to receive game pieces to the contest, for over 1 million prizes, including instant win AAFES shopping sprees up to $5,000.


AAFES Dividends Benefit Armed Forces' Morale, Welfare and Recreation

By Judd Anstey, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

DALLAS - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has announced that it is returning $242.3 million to the services' Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. For 2004, this dividend represents an average per capita dividend of $277 for every Soldier and Airman, a 5 percent increase over last year. In 2003, AAFES paid a per capita dividend of $264.

"AAFES' mission is to provide goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support MWR programs," said AAFES Commander Brig. Gen. Toreaser Steel. "These contributions to the U.S. Armed Forces and their families make AAFES a major non-pay benefit to customers."

The value AAFES offers the military community extends far beyond its ability to provide quality merchandise and consumer services. With the help of AAFES dividends, MWR, CFSC and Air Force Services have completed hundreds of community enhancement projects at Army and Air Force installations around the world. AAFES supports the mission of the services' MWR to improve the troops' quality of life and the well being of the overall military community. AAFES will continue to focus its efforts on providing value by offering low-cost shopping options and delivering an annual dividend. 

"Every time troops shop at the exchange, they provide support to MWR programs, facilities and non-appropriated fund construction projects such as bowling and youth centers, golf courses and outdoor recreation," said Brig. Gen. Steele.

Historically, roughly 67 percent of AAFES earnings are paid to MWR programs. In the past 10 years, more than $2 billion has been contributed by AAFES to the Army and Air Force to spend on quality of life improvements for Soldiers, Airmen and their families, including libraries, sports programs, swimming pools, youth activities, tickets and tour services, hobby shops, music programs, outdoor facilities and unit functions.

AAFES support to the military is not limited to Soldiers and Airmen. Because AAFES operates at Marine and Navy locations, AAFES is also able to return funds to Marines and Sailors. The FY 2004 dividend of $242.3 million will be distributed as follows:

Army: $147.5M
Air Force: $82.3M
Marines: $11.9M
Navy: $.6M
TOTAL: $242.3M

"We are proud of our partnership with NEXCOM and MCX," said Brig. Gen. Steele. "I know I speak for all Exchange associates when I say that the end of year dividend is extremely important. It makes the day-to-day sacrifices much more gratifying when you see the financial benefit Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and their families will reap from all the hard work."

Troops are not the only ones who can enhance the annual dividend AAFES provides MWR services. Civilians (aka non-authorized exchange customers) can also contribute by purchasing "Gifts from the Homefront" gift certificates or "Help Our Troops Call Home" phone cards. Both programs allow anyone to make a direct contribution to the morale of troops by sending a gift certificate or phone card that can be used in any AAFES retail or phone center operation in the world including those in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. While initial purchases made through these programs offer an immediate benefit to troops, the long-term advantage is that a portion of the funds used to purchase the phone card or gift certificate this year will go back to the military community next year. "Gifts from the Homefront" gift certificates and "Help Our Troops Call Home" phone cards are both available online at www.aafes.com.


 AAFES Grand Opening in Iraq Serves 80 Whoppers an Hour
By Sgt. First Class Heatherann Bozeman

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's newest Burger King in Iraq opened at the International Zone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, April 12.  Ambassador Stephen Browning and AAFES' Vice President of Iraqi Operations Dan Tompkins did the honors in the Post Exchange Complex courtyard with more than 400 hungry participants waiting to eat. The IZ PX food courtyard is now home to a Burger King, Pizza Inn, Gyro King and coffee shop.

"This is a great day and AAFES is proud to partner with the command to bring the troops this great looking food court," said Tompkins.

The new BK averaged over 80 Whoppers an hour and by the end of the busy opening day, had served 888 Whoppers and 357 pounds of fries.

"It's so great to be able to bring them a taste of home," said Rick Mora, Baghdad AAFES general manager. "The talk of the day among the troops here [at the opening] has been 'I can't wait to get my Whopper!'"

The IZ service members join troops stationed in Tallil, Tikrit, Balad, Kirkuk, Taji and Camp Liberty near Baghdad who are also "having it their way" while deployed. Coalition forces deploying through the military hub at the Baghdad International Airport now also have an opportunity to grab a Subway meal with the opening of the IZ Subway just days after the BK opening. With the new Burger King and Subway opening in the IZ, the grand total for name brand fast food in Iraq (including Pizza Hut and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee restaurants) now stands at 31, with 23 more sites pending.

Iraq is, of course, only one piece of AAFES' fast food operations in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Dairy Queen and Orange Julius co-branded restaurant opened in Bagram, Afghanistan, on April 10. Qatar hosts two Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts combinations as well as Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, Orange Julius and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee outlets. AAFES also operates Hardee's, Pizza Hut, Subway, Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Pizza Inn, Baskin Robbins and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee facilities in Kuwait.  

"There are now 11 name brand fast food operations in the 'Stans' with five more pending," said Richard Sheff, vice president of AAFES' Food and Theater Division. "AAFES fast food activities in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have been growing at a rate of 1.3 a month in Iraq since 2003 when the first Burger King opened in Tallil."

According to AAFES' Region Food Business Manager for Iraq Terry McCoy, opening a Subway in a war zone is not like opening one on an American street corner. "The logistics of getting the trailer in here alone takes huge coordination and command buy in," said McCoy. "But it makes it all worthwhile when you see the troops so excited at an opening or hear them talk about going to get a Whopper when they come off duty."

Talk to the troops and they'll tell you how they feel about name brand fast food in contingency locations.

"I like the chow hall and they do a really good job," said Sgt. Benjamin Miller deployed to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas. "I just like to get a burger if I want, you know? We have so few choices here that having the Burger King here really helps."

"We all want to know when Taco Bell is going to open," said Sgt. First Class Ulysses Rayford in Kuwait. "I love Taco Bell and wish I knew when it was going to open. That's going to really be great here."

AAFES officials admit that nailing down an opening date is a difficult process. Receiving approvals, according to Sheff, is only one part of the battle. "Different countries require different levels of support for the facility," said Sheff. Assuring power, water and safety standards can change opening dates by weeks, explained Sheff. Unit rotations bring command changes, camp closures or troop numbers changes. There are still more difficulties; skilled technicians and local availability of supplies like gravel and concrete, as well as sanitary and environmental conditions have to be in place. Finally, the friendly face smiling behind the counter needs to live, eat and receive country clearance to be in the war zone.

Despite these challenges, AAFES continues to forge forward for deployed customers. "It's amazing when you see everything that goes into opening one fast food trailer here in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Billy Cobb, AAFES Iraq military operations liaison officer. "These folks work hard to make it happen and it's not easy."

The Third Infantry division has returned to Iraq and can see a definite change in what they saw on the camps over two years ago, particularly with fast food available now. Many of the Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Forces and Coalition Iraq are on their second and even third tours.

"It's much nicer than when we first came through. So much has built up, like Subway and Pizza Hut right here on base," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross, a personal security detachment military policeman stationed at Camp Victory on his second tour in Iraq. "We still work long hours and stay on the roads handling business, but coming back to camp is a lot nicer with the stuff we have here now."

For AAFES, Ross' comments make all the difference. "The work here is very satisfying because you see how hard these guys work," said Tompkins. "We enjoy giving our troops a little taste of home and they appreciate it, they really do."  


Good Housekeeping Recognizes AAFES' Baby's Choice Infant Formula

By Judd Anstey, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

DALLAS - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has received the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval®* from the Good Housekeeping Institute for its Baby's Choice Infant Formula line. Recognized around the world as a symbol of excellence, the Seal is awarded to products only after extensive quality testing. 

"Every parent wants the best for their baby," said AAFES' Retail Food Divisional Merchandise Manager Elizabeth Burkepile. "Good Housekeeping has simply affirmed what military moms and dads already know; AAFES' Baby's Choice Infant Formulas safely and effectively provides complete nutrition for babies at a fraction of the cost of the expensive national brands."

Backed by the FDA, Baby's Choice Infant Formulas are manufactured to the highest standards by PBM Nutritionals LLC, a trusted name in infant formula. Seeking to provide quality products at a lower cost to customers, Burkepile says AAFES joined forces with PBM to manufacture infant formulas, "that won't put a dent in a military family's budget."

Available in both milk and soy varieties, Baby's Choice Infant Formulas are fortified with iron and are now available with the essential nutrients DHA and ARA. These two nutrients are found naturally in mother's milk and help support a baby's brain and eye development.

Products approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute may be advertised in The Good Housekeeping Magazine and are backed by their consumer's policy, which states that if a product bearing the Seal proves to be defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the product or refund the purchase price. Baby's Choice Infant Formula will appear in the special overseas military advertising section of the next edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine.


Army Announces Next AAFES Deputy Commander

  DALLAS – The U.S. Army has announced that BG James Lewis Kennon will be the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) next Deputy Commanding General. BG Kennon, currently Director, Logistics, Engineering and Security Assistance, J-4, United States Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, is expected to report to AAFES’ World HQ in Dallas before the end of July.

 “We are excited about the skill set BG Kennon will bring to AAFES,” said AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “His background and experience in logistics should be a valued asset to AAFES’ global mission of service and support.”

 A graduate of Chaminade University Honolulu, Hawaii with two Masters Degrees from Central Michigan University and National Defense University , BG Kennon’s 36-year career has taken him from Vietnam to Hawaii and to the majority of the Army bases in between. “The Army has allowed me to visit almost every corner of the globe,” said BG Kennon. “At every stop, AAFES was there for me and my family.  I look forward to playing a part in maintaining the benefit AAFES is known to deliver.”

 AAFES operates thousands of facilities worldwide; including more than 12,000 facilities in more than 35 countries and in 49 of the 50 states. These include 3,150 retail facilities of which 161 are main stores on Army, Air Force, and Marine installations around the world. AAFES also plays a large role in contingency operations with 55 stores throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.


Army Retirees Now Authorized to Purchase and Wear Physical Fitness Uniforms

DALLAS - The Chief of Staff of the Army has authorized Army retirees to wear the Physical Fitness and Improved Physical Fitness Uniforms (PFU and IPFU). The IPFU is immediately available at all Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Army MCSS locations and online at www.aafes.com 

Army officials recognize that throughout the year, retirees continue to show their support to, and affiliation with the Army. "This authorization allowing retirees to wear the PFU or the IPFU symbolizes recognition to our retirees' commitment to continued fitness practices and membership within the Army's family" said MCSS Army Program Manager Maj. Rachel Danielson. "We are very pleased with this announcement and will continue to support our valued retiree customer base". 

All personnel, including retirees, who wear the PFU or the IPFU are authorized to wear the clothing as currently worn by personnel in the active Army. Uniform wear policy is described in Army Regulation 670-1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniform and Insignia.  For those who haven't worn the uniforms in a while, AAFES includes the following guidelines as a courtesy to its retired customers: 

1. Retirees may wear parts of the PFU or the IPFU with civilian attire off the installations

2. When wearing the PFU or the IPFU as a complete uniform; i.e. trunks and short-sleeve shirt/sweatshirt or sweatpants with short-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt retirees will:

A. Wear only authorized accessories corresponding to those worn by personnel of the active Army

B. Keep the sleeves down on the sweatshirt or jacket, the legs down on the pants, and they will tuck the T-shirt inside the trunks

C. Not roll or push up the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt or the IPFU jacket

D. Wear the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt cuffed or uncuffed; they may not cuff the IPFU jacket sleeves

E. Wear the black knit cap pulled down snugly on the head, with the bottom edge of the cap folded up; retirees will not roll the edge of the cap.

F. Pregnant retirees are authorized to wear the T-shirt/sweatshirt outside the trunks/sweatpants


Troops Tie the Knot for Less with AAFES' New Online Bridal Boutique

DALLAS - Wedding season is just around the corner and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's new online bridal store can help military brides-to-be save precious time in planning for their special day.

Military Bride, which was launched at AAFES.com's CentricMall on March 3, is just a click away and offers savings of 10 to 80 percent on new designer bridal gowns and accessories that authorized exchange customers and their family members can buy wherever they are.

All gowns feature the latest styles in bridal fashion and are made from premium quality fabrics such as Duchess Satin, Venice Lace and English Net.  Each dress is accentuated with hand-sewn seed pearls and crystals.  Custom sizing, extra length and petite cuts are also available.  Most gowns are stocked for immediate shipping and are easily altered upon receipt.
  Military Bride has been in the bridal business for more than 25 years and unlike most bridal stores has a return policy, fast delivery and satisfaction is guaranteed.  An experienced staff is ready 18 hours a day to help exchange customers with all their bridal needs.

Military Bride has everything needed to make a wedding day perfect to include flower girl dresses, ring-bearer tuxes, bridesmaids' dresses, gloves, tiaras and more.  To see what Military Bride has to offer, go to www.aafes.com and click on the CentricMall link.


AAFES Saves Customers an Average of 22.09% Everyday

  DALLAS According to a national independent market basket survey, prices at Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) PXs and BXs are on average 22.09 percent lower than comparable retailers.

 Conducted in February by RetailData, the 2005 market basket survey sampled everyday prices of 150 similar items found in six military communities. Communities surveyed included Fort Meade , M.D.; Eglin AFB, Fla. ; Fort Hood , Texas ; Fort Lewis , Wash. ; Offutt AFB, Neb. ; and Luke AFB, Ariz.

 According to AAFES officials, the savings exchange shoppers receive doesn’t end at 22.09 percent. “It’s important to remember that the average savings cited by RetailData’s survey is before any additional tax-free advantage authorized exchange customers enjoy,” said AAFES’ Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “Depending on where a service member or military retiree lives, shopping the PX or BX can offer an average savings up to 31.44 percent when you consider that our customers don’t pay sales tax.”

 RetailData’s market basket survey is designed to focus on the most popular items sold at AAFES facilities and represents all major retail departments. National name brand items prices were surveyed. In addition to name brand savings, AAFES’ private label merchandise keeps even more money in military customers’ pockets.

 “As more and more retailers are targeting military service members as customers, AAFES is working twice as hard to offer compelling value to military customers,” said AAFES’ Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Iverson. “When you look at this survey and compare ‘apples to apples,’ I think it’s clear that AAFES saves its customers money everyday, regardless of their location.”

 A market basket survey is a snapshot in time. The retail industry conducts similar surveys as an industry best practice to remain competitive. In addition to the national survey, each major AAFES Exchange location conducts local price surveys monthly to ensure AAFES pricing is consistently competitive. The 2005 market basket survey average savings of 22.09 percent represents an increase over AAFES’ 2004 results of 21.89 percent. AAFES will continue to conduct annual surveys to ensure prices are the lowest possible.

 Detailed survey results can be found at www.aafes.com.


The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is a joint command of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and is directed by a Board of Directors who is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff. AAFES has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and of generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. To find out more about AAFES' history and mission, please visit our Web site at <http://www.aafes.com/pa/default.asp>.


NEXCOM UPDATE


     "The  Navy  Exchange  Service  Command (NEXCOM) worked with its vendor partner,  AT&T,  to bring lower rates to our service men and women, just in time   for   the   holiday   season,"   said   Mary   Beth   Morse,  NEXCOM telecommunication  service operations specialist.  "We hope these new lower
rates  will  allow  more  families to talk to their loved ones who are away from  home  or would just like to have better rates for their long distance calling."

     AT&T  Prepaid Phone Cards, available at any Navy Exchange worldwide in 300,  150  and  50 units, have been lowered to $.05 - $.09 per minute.  "In keeping with the prepaid phone card industry standard, the more minutes you buy, the better the rate becomes," said Morse.

     Long  distance rates for overseas calling have also been lowered by as much as 50 percent for some countries. To call the United States, the costs from  various  overseas locations using a 300, 150 or 50 AT&T Prepaid Phone Card  are as low as: Bahrain: $0.29 per minute; Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland,
Italy  and Vatican City, Japan, Singapore, Spain and United Kingdom: $0.15; Guantanamo  Bay, Cuba: $0.81; Philippines: $0.44; and United Arab Emeritus: $0.22.

     NEXCOM  is  also  introducing a new 800 minute AT&T Prepaid Phone Card for  $0.05  per minute for calls made within the United States.  "Just like our  Liberty  Phone  Card,  this  new  card has no hidden charges, does not expire  and  can  be  recharged  at any time," said Morse.  "With its lower
rates  in  the United States and higher international rates than the 50,150 and  300  minute  cards, the new 800 minute will only be sold in the United States."

     The new cards will be sold in Navy Exchanges beginning on November 24.

                         
 Navy Ship's Servicemen Now Have Touch Access for Ship Store Resources

      Navy  Ship's Servicemen (SH) now have one place they can go to access all  ship  store  bulletins,  manuals and catalogs needed to do their jobs. The  Navy  Exchange  Service  Command's  (NEXCOM)  Ship's Store Program has launched  a  web-site, www.navy-shipstores.com or www.navy-nex.com, to make one-touch supply easier for ashore and afloat SHs.

     "We've  been  working  towards a paperless working environment for the past  several  years,"  said  Charles Vaughan, director of the Ship's Store Program.   "Placing  all this information on our website was just a natural evolution  of  that process. I wanted the Ship's Store Program to be in the vanguard  in  providing  'world  class'  service  to  our Ship's Servicemen wherever they are afloat or ashore."

     Now  available  on  the  website  are  all  parts  manuals, ship store bulletins  and  training  manuals for the SH rate.   There's also a section describing  NEXCOM's  Fleet  Assistance  Teams and the services they offer. The  site also allows the user to contact the Ship's Store Program with any
questions or comments on improving the site.

     "We  are  very excited about this site," said Vaughan.  "It's going to become  a very important resource for the SH community.  It's a win-win for everyone.   We  cut  down  on the amount of paper we use and the amount SHs have to file.  On the other side, SHs can access this site from anywhere at
anytime."

     NEXCOM has 185 ship stores and 4 ship store ashore sites worldwide.

 

Save Big at your Local Commissary Now!

     Commissary Shoppers Now Save More than 30% on Their Groceries Commissary shoppers now save more than 30% on their groceries according to the latest market basket pricing survey conducted in October.  "This means that a commissary patron shopping for a family of four can save nearly $2,500 each year compared with off-base shopping," said DeCA'S director, Air Force Major General Robert J. Courter Jr. "This is a goal that we at DeCA have been after for a long time, and we made it.  Our shoppers will definitely benefit financially." The survey compared prices of virtually every Universal Product Coded (UPC) item sold in all commissaries in the 48 contiguous states.  DeCA conducted meat and produce pricing surveys at randomly selected commissaries as well as surrounding retail grocery stores. The actual percentage of savings is 30.4 percent.

 

 


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