AAFES Corner

by Judd Anstey, AAFES

FDA Recalls ‘Exchange Select’ Alcohol Prep Pads, Swabs and Swabsticks  

DALLAS – The Food and Drug Administration issued a recall specific to all lots of alcohol prep pads, swabs and swabsticks manufactured by Triad Group.  

Merchandised under the “Exchange Select” label at various Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Exchanges as well as Veteran’s Canteens, the products have been recalled due to concerns about “potential contamination of the products with an objectionable organism, namely Bacillus cereus.”  

The FDA said it issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution” as use of contaminated alcohol prep pads, swabs or swabsticks “could lead to life-threatening infections, especially in at- risk populations, including immune suppressed and surgical patients.”  

To date, the FDA said it has “received one report of a non-life-threatening skin infection.”  

All affected product has been removed from shelves. Military shoppers who previously purchased Exchange Select alcohol prep pads, swabs or swabsticks are advised to return recalled product at their nearest Exchange or Canteen for a full refund.

Exchange Revving Up the Rewards for Safe Bikers

DALLAS – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, compared to just 20 percent for automobiles.  

Because of this increased danger, the Exchange is supporting the military’s mission to reduce motorcycle-related injuries and deaths among servicemembers by offering a one-time, 20 percent discount off of one Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) item to cyclists that successfully complete their locally required motorcycle safety riding course.  

“Through this initiative, the Exchange is playing a large role in ensuring the safety and well-being of service men and women,” said the Exchange’s Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm. “Since the PPE program has rolled out, military cyclists have been better equipped to meet the local riding requirements.”  

The Exchange PPE program was first tested at Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Eglin AFB in the spring of 2009. The test was so successful that the program was expanded throughout the United States, Pacific and Europe in 2010.  

The Exchange now sells motorcycle PPE, to include helmets, gloves, protective eyewear and body armor, in 136 facilities worldwide as well as online at www.shopmyexchange.com. Products sold through this program meet the highest safety standards to include all military specs and European and Pacific testing standards.

‘Price is Right’ Salutes America’s Armed Forces

DALLAS – Members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard were invited to “come on down” at a recent military-only “Price is Right” taping, scheduled to air on Veteran’s Day. 

This year’s salute to the Armed Forces came complete with an Army color guard and Marine Corps band. The audience, packed with Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, was full of nervous anticipation as the contestants entered the studio.  

A look of hope crept across each service member’s face as they anticipated the fact that they might be the next contestant to place an opening bid, get on stage or maybe even play "Switch, Switch" on a historic nationally televised program.  

As visions of Showcase Showdowns danced through their heads, the affable star of the show, Drew Carey, greeted the crowd and made his allegiance, as a former Marine, known.  

Ultimately, two Marines (Camp Pendleton’s Cpl. Christopher Morrison and Lance Cpl. Zachery Garrison), a Soldier (Pfc. Christina Dubry from Ft. Irwin), Sailor (USS Ronald Reagan Petty Officer Second Class Sharice Elmore), Airman (Tech. Sgt. Amber Honeycutt from Edwards AFB) and Coast Guardsman (Petty Officer Joshua Tighe from the San Pedro, CA sector) found themselves just a spin away from tens of thousands of dollars in prizes.  

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Chief of Staff Col. Virgil Williams, who personally delivered $6,000 in shopmyexchange.com shopping sprees and hundreds of Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone Cards to the CBS studio, was just a few feet away from the action.  

“Everyone serving, or who has served, had a vested interest in the outcome,” said Williams. “The whole show was exciting, but the end was something anyone who watches won’t soon forget.”  

Scheduled to air Nov. 11 on CBS at 11 a.m., ET; 10 a.m., PT, the program marks the third year that the “Price is Right” (the longest-running game show in television history) has dedicated an entire show to America’s Armed Forces. 

New Exchange Experience Begins at Tinker

DALLAS – History has been made at Tinker AFB as yesterday’s BX became today’s “Exchange” with a new look and an improved shopping experience.  

The layout of the facility is a dramatic, new approach to the exchange benefit as the store is divided into three major merchandise worlds – Home, Life and Style. The customer service section has been moved to the front of the store to offer expert service immediately upon entry.  

Additionally, compelling shops and destinations have been created to fit the active lifestyle of military shoppers.  

The evolution of the brand does not stop at the store, however. The rebranding from AAFES to the Exchange has been a holistic approach that will create a new paradigm and consistent corporate message.  

This message will be evident in tabloids, catalogs, exclusive brand packaging on the shelves as well as revisions to the website that will be coming online over the next few months.  

The renovation began on June 1 and just 116 days later… the transformation is complete. The fresh colors, textures and graphics that create a facility custom-designed for military shoppers’ lifestyles are expected to be replicated at Air Force and Army installations worldwide.  

The logo’s new tag line, “You save, we give back,” emphasizes the Exchange’s competitive prices and support to Air Force Services and Army Morale Welfare and Recreation programs.  

As part of its dual mission, roughly two-thirds of Exchange earnings are returned to quality of life programs such as youth services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, arts and crafts, aquatic centers, post functions and golf courses.

Army and Air Force Exchanges Listen…and React

DALLAS – Improved stock assortments, a revamped customer comment program and a focus on social media are just a few ways Army and Air Force Exchanges are listening and adjusting to military shoppers’ needs.  

As seen in the recent rollout of Vera Bradley and Coach Store In Store (SIS) concepts, along with Victoria’s Secret Pink, Exchanges continues to focus on new, trendy and updated styles as well as recognizable name brands.  

In an effort to meet a continuing demand for more of the best brands at the best prices, upcoming rollouts will also include Ladies Izod and Lauren-Ralph Lauren SIS concepts.  

In addition to the increase in selection, Army and Air Force Exchanges are developing an internal system to better assist associates in determining demographic factors when procuring fashion merchandise.  

A web-based learning course has also been created to aid in the merchandising of fashion goods and customer service.  

“We’re continually adjusting the stock assortment to ensure we have what military shoppers want and need,” said the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm. “At the same time, we are reaching out to the military community to find out what they’d like to see more of and what they want less of.”  

Customer feedback continues to be instrumental in allowing the Exchange to better serve military consumers and improve their overall shopping experience. The Customer Comment program, for example, was recently redesigned for 2010 to include postage-paid comment cards as well as new signing and fixtures to make it easier for military shoppers to provide input to Exchange managers.  

Customer comment cards that encourage shoppers to see local managers for on-the-spot corrections or to submit a comment online at shopmyexchange.com, through an 800 number or by mail are available at all Army and Air Force Exchange locations.  

A recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense Washington Headquarters Services and Evaluation Division now even allows for the central management of all AAFES-related Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) comments. The result is more data captured regarding customer satisfaction, trends and issues, providing a “bigger picture” of what military shoppers are saying about the Exchange.  

“By placing a greater emphasis on these customer feedback initiatives, we have nearly doubled the amount of customer comments from this time one year ago,” said Helm. “As a result, this invaluable feedback is helping direct efforts towards delivering a stronger benefit.”  

Beyond one-on-one communication, the Exchange is continually engaged in public conversations with military shoppers through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, an expressed interest in extended savings opportunities in these venues prompted the creation of a recently launched program that makes coupons exclusively available through the Exchange’s Facebook page.

AAFES Shoppers Can Drink in More Than $27,000 of Winnings in Latest Sweepstakes  

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has partnered with Coca-Cola to give military shoppers the opportunity to win one of 10 shopping sprees. The “Coke Living Free” sweepstakes will reward a grand prize of a $5,000 AAFES gift card to five lucky shoppers. Five first place winners will net a $500 gift card.  

“It really doesn’t get any easier than this,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm.  “Just fill out an entry form at your PX/BX and you’re in the running for a dream shopping spree.”  

The “Coke Living Free” sweepstakes runs from now through May 27. Contestants must be 18-years-old and older and no purchase is necessary to enter. Winners will be announced on or about July 13.

Hollywood and AAFES Mark Milestone with ‘The Losers’ Premiere

DALLAS – Since its start in December 2001 with Paramount Pictures’ “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Distributor Appreciation program has hosted 149 preview screenings at military installations the world over.  

On Sunday, April 18, nearly a full week before its U.S. release in commercial theaters, AAFES will team up with Warner Bros Pictures to deliver a landmark 150th military Distributor Appreciation screening when the action thriller “The Losers” will be shown at 12 Army and three Air Force “Reel Time” theaters.  

“150 military Distributor Appreciation previews over the last nine years really is an extraordinary achievement,” said AAFES Vice President of Food and Theater Roy Robertson. “Frankly, none of these events would have been possible without the tremendous efforts of our Motion Picture Team headed up by Jon Walters and the phenomenal support we continually receive from the distributors.  We’re excited about working with our partners to deliver another 150 preview screenings to the military communities AAFES so proudly serves.”  

“The Losers” is centered upon the members of an elite U.S. Special Forces unit sent into the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team finds themselves the target of a lethal betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Presumed dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they're joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda. Working together, they must remain deep undercover while tracking the heavily-guarded Max, a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war.  

“The Losers” Distributor Appreciation Preview Locations:  

Army installations include: Ft. Bliss, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Campbell, Ft. Drum, Ft. Gordon, Ft. Hood, Ft. Irwin, Ft. Jackson, Ft. Lee, Ft. Lewis, Ft. Rucker and Ft. Sill.  

Air Force installations include: Lackland AFB, Nellis AFB and Sheppard AFB.

Checks Go High-Tech at AAFES

 DALLAS – The check “float” at the BX/PX is going the way of rotary phones and dot matrix printers as the Army & Air Force Exchange Service converts to a paper check conversion (PCC) system this year.  

“PCC scans and instantly converts paper checks into electronic debits to the check writer’s account,” said Chief Financial Officer Harold Lavender. “This technology has been operational in contingency locations for roughly ten years now and commercial industry for about five; it’s an extremely efficient system.”  

Rollout of the PCC program will begin in AAFES CONUS locations on March 7 and will be totally implemented in all facilities by June 6. Concurrent rollouts of Pacific and European exchanges will begin early April with complete implementation by June 6.

AAFES Sweepstakes Offers Shoppers Opportunity to ‘Go Country’  

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Dr. Pepper have teamed up to offer a boot-scootin’, star-studded weekend getaway for one lucky shopper or a chance to win one of ten acoustic guitars.  

The Dr. Pepper Academy of Country Music (ACM) sweepstakes features a grand prize of a trip for two to Las Vegas from Apr. 17-19 for the 45th Annual ACM Awards, three nights at a deluxe hotel, tickets to events throughout the weekend as well as meals and transportation. Ten first prize winners will also receive a custom acoustic vintage guitar valued at approximately $200.  

“This is a dream trip, whether you’re a country music fan or not,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm. “With an approximate retail value of $6,000, the grand prize offers everything from the sights and sounds of Vegas to the pomp and circumstance of a major music awards show.”  

From Jan. 8-21, BXs and PXs around the world are accepting entries for AAFES’ Dr Pepper ACM Awards Sweepstakes, with the drawing occurring on or about March 10, 2010.  No purchase is necessary to enter and entrants need not be present to win.

Hundreds of Toys and Thousands of Dollars in Prizes in AAFES’ 2009 Toy Book  

DALLAS – Just in time for holiday shopping, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has unwrapped its biggest and most extensive toy book ever. Jam-packed with the hottest toys, electronics, learning and activities, the 2009 Toy Book has everything to make children’s holiday dreams come true.

 In addition to the incredible selection, the Toy Book sweepstakes offers more than $22,000 in prizes, including a $2,500 and $500 AAFES gift card, Sharp 40” LCD TV, Joykie Bike and much more. Military shoppers can register to win in stores or online.  

Additionally, military Families won’t have to break the bank filling the toy chest as the book features more than $400 in coupons.  

“Kids dreaming of a fun-filled Christmas will find all they could ever want in the Toy Book,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm. “Featuring hundreds of items available at both the BX/PX and online, this is truly a one-stop shopping destination for military Families.”  

The 2009 Toy Book is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com.

BX/PXs’ Revamped Layaway Program makes it Easier to ‘Shop Now, Pay Later’ 

DALLAS – Visit your local exchange and it soon becomes apparent that reports of layaway’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  

In fact, Army & Air Force Exchange Service BXs and PXs are reintroducing and, in some cases, expanding layaway options. 

“Clothing, handbags and shoes are still eligible for 30-day layaway, but full payment on many other categories can be put off for up to 60 days when shopping the exchange,” said AAFES’ Chief Operating Officer Mike Howard.  

Military shoppers whose Families’ holiday wish list included something that sparkles or shines were able to begin making arrangements as far out as Sept. as fine jewelry can be put on layaway for up to 120 days at AAFES.  

Delaying full payment might even be mom and dad’s secret weapon in keeping presents under wraps this year as toys can be put on layaway up until Christmas Eve.  

“Let the kids look in the attic, under the tree or even your car trunk,” said Howard. “Keeping the toys on layaway, and in the exchange’s back room, can really take a lot of stress out of the holidays.”  

Any purchase of $25 or more is eligible for layaway at AAFES. A 15 percent deposit on the total purchase price is required to hold a product.  

Merchandise excluded from AAFES’ layaway program includes clearance merchandise, computers, peripherals, major appliances, furniture, mattresses, exercise equipment, electronics $299 and up as well as seasonal and outdoor living products.


AAFES Partners with Paramount to Bring First Stateside Premier to the Troops

ANDREWS AFB – Service members and their Families stationed on Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland were the first audience to premier Paramount Pictures latest movie, “G. I. Joe, The Rise of Cobra” on July 31, a week before the movie is released for public viewing.

Partnering with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, service members not only got to see the movie, but meet most of the actors, the Vice Chairman of Paramount Motion Pictures Group, the producer and director of the movie as well.

Making their grand entrance in HUMVEES, the actors entered the red carpet area in front of the base theater and spent time meeting 45 wounded warriors and their Families as they signed autographs, took photos and thanked them for their service and sacrifices.  

After making thee rounds on the carpet with the various local media, they entered the auditorium amidst the screams of 1,000 awaiting fans. The visiting guests conducted a brief question and answer session and departed just before the movie began.

Working behind the scenes to make this event become a reality was AAFES’ Motion Picture Program Manager Jon Walters. “This is our 141st early screening since we began this partnership in 2001 with our first premier being Paramount Pictures’ Jimmy Neutron,” Walters said. “The distributors are very supportive of the military. There isn’t one studio that doesn’t support our efforts to improve the morale of our service members stateside and abroad.”

Paramount Motion Pictures Group Vice President Robert Moore who was also on hand echoed Walter’s sentiments. “It is an honor to bring Paramount’s first premier ever on American soil to the service members,” Moore said. “We can’t thank the service members enough for what they do. The military helped a lot with the production of this movie. We are pleased to let them reap the benefits of their efforts.  We are excited to bring this movie to them and their Families.”

Walters added, “We couldn’t make these events happen without the support of the local installations and their leadership. We’ve premiered a few movies at Andrews because it is one of the largest theaters AAFES has, seating 1,000 patrons.   

More than 200 moviegoers were lined up at 2 p.m. to ensure their entrance into the theater, AAFES officials provided a second showing for those who couldn’t get in the first viewing. “G. I. Joe, The Rise of Cobra” was also screened at AAFES theaters on Forts Belvior, Bliss, Bragg, Campbell, Hood, Lewis, Rucker as well as Edwards, MacDill and Sheppard Air Force Bases on August  1.

Military Star® Card Gas Discount to Increase by 60 Percent

DALLAS – Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) gas stations worldwide are helping take the pain out of the pump by increasing discounts for drivers using a Military Star® Card.

Beginning August 8, pumps currently programmed to reflect a discount of three cents a gallon for drivers who pay with a Military Star® Card will jump to five cents a gallon.

In addition to the everyday nickel discount, AAFES will periodically be offering increased savings opportunities at specified times throughout the year. The first of these promotions, from Aug. 21-23, will provide a 20 cents per gallon discount, up to 20 gallons, for drivers paying with a Military Star® Card.

“The savings opportunities are going to be unprecedented,” said AAFES’ Chief Operating Officer Mike Howard. “I’m excited about the exclusive gas savings we’re going to offer Military Star® cardholders in the coming months.”

Authorized exchange shoppers can learn more about the benefits available to Military Star® cardholders at www.aafes.com.

AAFES Revs Up Service with Firestone Care Car Centers

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is teaming up with Firestone Complete Auto Care to provide services at 30 Army posts and Air Force bases throughout the continental United States.

The partnership has already brought Firestone Care Centers’ tire and battery, oil, brake, alignment, steering/suspension and general automotive repair services onto several installations, including Ft. Hood, Scott AFB and Ft. Sill.

“This effort is representative of AAFES’ continuing desire to be the premier collaborative partner with both federal and commercial entities,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “This command will continue to explore new business opportunities that provide military shoppers with an outstanding variety of services and selection, further enhancing the shopping experience.”

Firestone’s repair prices at AAFES locations will be discounted 10 percent while lubrication costs will be 5 percent cheaper than off-post prices. Firestone will also include free tire rotation, balancing and repair for authorized shoppers who purchase tire service agreements from AAFES.

 “As with all AAFES services, military shoppers at Firestone can count on reliability, quality and work backed by a nationwide warranty good at locations both on and off post,” said Helm.

AAFES-operated Firestone Complete Auto Care services are currently, or scheduled to be, available at the following locations:

Ft. Campbell, KY
MacDill AFB, FL
Andrews AFB, DC
Lackland AFB, TX
Luke AFB, AZ
Ft. Benning, GA
Langley AFB, VA
Ft Carson, CO
Randolph AFB, TX
Hurlburt AF, FL
Tinker AFB, OK
Scott AFB, IL
Ft. Sill, OK
Ft. Stewart, GA
Buckley AFB, CO
Peterson AFB, CO
Ft. Drum, NY
Kirtland AFB, NM
Ft. Riley, KS
Little Rock AFB, AR
Robins AFB, GA
Ft. Lee, VA
Ft. Myer, VA
Hanscom AFB, MA
Barksdale AFB, LA
Ft. Rucker, AL
Redstone Arsenal, AL
Hill AFB, UT
Shaw AFB, SC
Keesler AFB, MS
Ft. Hood, TX Clear Creek
Ft. Hood, TX Warrior Way
Ft. Hood, TX Tank Battalion

Exchange Online Mall Now Taking Vacation Reservations
DALLAS – The Exchange Service’s Exchange Online Mall has partnered with the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to help troops take a break without going broke.

Now, any authorized exchange shopper can log on to the Exchange Online Mall and book a vacation, including 7-night Alaskan Cruises from $399, Cozumel from $28 per night and an 11-day European Dream vacation, through FMWRC’s Government Vacation Rewards program.

Beyond convenience, the partnership makes it possible for military shoppers to book vacations using the Exchange Service’s proprietary Military Star® card or Military Star® Rewards MasterCard®.

“The competitive interest rate available through the Military Star® card, combined with the buying power that only Government Vacation Rewards can offer, means travel is more affordable than ever before,” said the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Chief Marketing Officer Mat Dromey. “Packed with vacation values, the adventure begins when troops and their Families log on through the Exchange Online Mall.”

Government Vacation Rewards offers access to special military pricing on thousands of cruises, tours, vacation packages, resorts, hotels, air travel and cars. Currently, military shoppers who log on to the site through the Exchange Online Mall can use a Military Star® card to book any package while à la carte offerings, such as hotel, airline and car rental services, can be made using a major credit card. 

“This partnership is just the latest example of our strategic goal to be the premier collaborative partner with federal and commercial entities,” said Dromey. “Doing so allows us, and our partners, to provide world-class support to authorized exchange shoppers, wherever America’s military is called to serve.”

Credit Card Fees up Over 20 Percent at AAFES Facilities in 2008

DALLAS – The convenience and use of bank-issued debit and credit cards at BXs and PXs cost the military community dearly last year. In fact, Army & Air Force Exchange Service shoppers who reached for a bank-issued card in ‘08 ended up shelling out more than $79 million in fees, up 21 percent compared to 2007.

“A dual mission to provide quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs means that something as seemingly insignificant as a credit or debit fee can add up to a major quality of life issue,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “Because banks charge an average of 1.49 percent of the transaction total when the credit or debit card is swiped, every purchase made with one of these cards impacts the exchange’s ability to maximize the investment military Families are making in their community.”

While all purchases, regardless of the form of payment used, have the potential to help strengthen the exchange benefit, shoppers who use the exchanges’ exclusive MILITARY STARSM Card or pay cash maximize their individual impact on critical MWR efforts.

“Traditionally, two-thirds of earnings generated from a sale is paid to morale, welfare and recreation, while the other third is invested in improvements that enhance the shopping experience,” said Helm. “This structure means that decreased fees can quickly provide additional arts and crafts supplies, reduced green fees or maybe even a new aquatic center.”

Since 2001, AAFES shoppers have paid more than $500 million in fees to card-issuing banks, resulting in lost revenues for the military community. Unlike bank cards, profits generated from MILITARY STARSM Card purchases are shared with military communities through contributions to MWR services. These funds reduce the tax burden of all U.S. citizens and are used to fund Youth Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, aquatic centers, post functions and golf courses that are enjoyed by military families across the globe.

“Using the MILITARY STARSM Card or cash is one of the easiest ways for authorized shoppers to directly impact their exchange and MWR benefits,” said Helm. “Reducing unnecessary expenses such as bank fees not only go a long way in strengthening the overall exchange benefit, but also the dividend operations annually generate for the military community.”

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

Authorized exchange shoppers can learn more about the MILITARY STARSM Card by visiting www.aafes.com and click on the MILITARY STARSM Card icon.

AAFES-Backed Gift Cards Deliver Support and Peace of Mind During Tumultuous Times

DALLAS – Retailers and gift card suppliers closing their doors have left thousands of Americans holding millions of dollars of worthless pre-paid plastic. Soldiers and Airmen even experienced a scare last month when a gift certificate vendor of the Department of Defense’s oldest and largest exchange service, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, shuttered its doors and advised recipients that they could “remit” their gifts for “potential reimbursement.”

“AAFES was already in the process of transitioning to an AAFES-backed gift card, so honoring the defunct gift certificates was a fairly easy decision to make,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “The DoD actually authorized AAFES to sell gift cards directly to any American, on behalf on military families, last October As a result, AAFES now offers gift cards without a need for third party fulfillment.”

The differences between a run-of-the-mill retailer’s gift card and AAFES-back gift cards are numerous.

For starters, exchange gift cards can be redeemed just about anywhere on the planet as AAFES operates BXs and PXs in some 30 countries. In fact, AAFES currently operates 89 exchanges throughout the Middle East, including 59 locations in Iraq alone. This means that even in a war zone, a Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine can redeem an exchange gift card for just about anything and, because AAFES operates thousand of facilities, including fast food restaurants, movie theaters and gas stations, the recipient has the power to choose what product or service best meets their needs.

Sending an AAFES gift card is affordable. Today, any American can log on to www.aafes.org, choose from denominations ranging from $10 to $500, send a card to an individual or charity and regardless where the card is going, the sender incurs absolutely not additional “convenience” or “shipping” charges.

Finally, and probably most importantly in light of the economy, AAFES gift cards are backed by the strength of a nearly 114-year old military command.

“When you buy a gift card, you’re taking a gamble that the retailer will be open when the recipient decides to redeem it,” said Helm. “As we’ve seen over the course of the past few months, almost any business can be forced to close up shop due to sudden and catastrophic economic hardship. Fortunately, people who choose to send an AAFES gift card don’t have to worry because whether the card is brought in tomorrow or next year, we’ll be where our troops are; delivering a taste of home to those far from the comforts of friends and family”

AAFES gift cards and gift certificates, up to $500, can be sent by any American who logs on to www.aafes.org or calls 877-770-4438. From there, BX/PX gift certificates 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, Fisher House Foundation Inc., Navy-Marine Corps Relief, USO or Soldiers Family Assistance Center.

AAFES ‘Patriot Family Pet Photo Contest’ Goes to the Dogs

DALLAS – From a military working dog who lost his partner in Iraq to the Himalayan vulture nursed back to health in Afghanistan, photos submitted in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES) “Patriot Family Pet Photo Contest” ranged from heart-tugging to humorous. Of the more than 600 entries, six winners were chosen based on the photo and a 50-word or less description of their pet.

“Considering the amount and quality of entries, there’s no doubt that military Families have a special place in their hearts for their pets,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “It was extremely rewarding to see these photos and hear the stories behind them, but it was also very difficult to narrow them down to just six winners.”

The grand prize winner was a photo of Lex, the K9 partner to Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee, who was killed in Iraq in March, 2007. Lex was injured in the attack and later received an honorary Purple Heart before being retired early and adopted by Cpl. Lee’s family. The Lee family, and Lex, currently visit VA hospitals and attend speaking engagements to honor fallen troops. For his entry, Lex (and his family) received a $1,500 AAFES gift card.

In addition to the photo of Lex, first place winner, Zachery Eierman from Fort Leonard Wood received a $1,000 AAFES gift card, Emily Seibert from Fort Dix and Benjamin Croom of Fort Belvoir took second place honors and a $500 gift card while Tabitha Welsh from MacDill AFB and Alyssa Tinker from Fort Lewis finished third with each pocketing a $250 gift card. Winning “Patriot Family Pet Photo Contest” photos, in addition to 36 runners up, can be found on www.aafes.com by clicking on the Patriot Family Connection “Patriot Family Pet Photo Contest.” All photos will eventually be used in AAFES advertisement publications and its in-house television network, EXTV.

AAFES to Continue Honoring Certifichecks Despite Company’s Closing

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service announced today that they would continue to honor and redeem “Certifichecks,” gift certificates that have been purchased for service members, despite the recent announcement that Certifichecks has ceased operations.

“Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines can be assured that if they have one of these gift certificates they will still be able to use them to purchase whatever they need at our stores,” said AAFES’ Chief of Corporate Communication Lt. Col. Dean Thurmond.

When AAFES’ troop support initiative, “Gifts From the Homefront,” was initiated nearly six years ago, Certifichecks allowed more flexibility than a traditional gift card due to the fact that they could be redeemed at other exchange systems, regardless of branch of service. Today, an AAFES gift card is also accepted at any Navy or Marine exchange, thus making it a more convenient option.

“In addition to its convenience, AAFES gift cards also improve the morale of troops and ensure that they are able to get exactly what they want while reducing shipping expenses for military supporters,” said Thurmond.

AAFES gift cards, up to $500, can be sent by any American who logs on to www.aafes.com or calls 877-770-4438. From there, BX/PX gift cards 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, Fisher House Foundation Inc., Navy-Marine Corps Relief, USO or Soldiers Family Assistance Center.

‘Exchange Select’ Quality and Price Take Exchange Benefit Further

DALLAS – As energy prices rise and consumer confidence slides, budget-conscious military shoppers are maximizing their exchange benefit as they reach for “private label” products manufactured under the Exchange Services’ “Exchange Select” brand.

“Our ‘Exchange Select’ products save exchange shoppers anywhere from 20 to approximately 50 percent when compared to name brand counterparts,” said the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Senior Vice President of Sales Maggie Burgess. “And savvy shoppers know that this added savings doesn’t come at the price of reliability; as the Exchanges’ ‘exclusive label’ merchandise offers quality that is equal to or better than equivalent national brands.”

Some examples of “Exchange Select” savings available today include:

Name Brand Mint Mouthwash 1 liter                           $3.99
“Exchange Select” Mint Mouthwash 1 liter                   $1.79 (55% Savings)

Name Brand Ibuprofen 50 ct                                      $4.85
“Exchange Select” Ibuprofen 50 ct                             $1.99 (59% Savings)

Name Brand Hi-Potency Multi-Vitamin 100 + 30 tabs       $9.55
“Exchange Select” Century Multi Tab 100 + 30 tabs       $4.69 (50% Savings)

Performance and safety of “Exchange Select” products are assured thanks to a Quality Assurance team that actively visits suppliers’ plants to verify ‘Good Manufacturing Practices,’ as set by the Food and Drug Administration and other governing agencies, are used. In fact, all “Exchange Select” over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, meet FDA established guidelines, which are the same for “private label” and national brand equivalent products.

A steady demand for affordably priced, quality products by the military community continues to drive expansion of the “Exchange Select” brand, available exclusively at Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Exchanges, Veterans Canteen Service locations and AAFES BXs and PXs. Last year, the exchanges introduced 37 new items including vitamins, cough drops and sunscreen. The entire portfolio now includes 557 unique items, all priced to deliver substantial savings.

Name brand quality combined with “private label” pricing continues to attract military shoppers as “Exchange Select” sales increased by nearly a million dollars in 2007. As a result, the Exchange Services continue to broaden their “private label” assortment through line extensions in existing categories, such as health and beauty care items, household cleaning and laundry products and even a single-use cameras, as well as expansion into new programs.

“Exchange Select” stock assortment additions currently in development include allergy medicine, nicotine gum, non-optical brightener detergent and orange furniture polish.

$80 Million in Business Opportunities Garners Diversity Recognition for AAFES

DALLAS – For the second year in a row the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has been recognized by DiversityBusiness.com as one of America’s Top Government Organizations for multicultural business opportunities.

The annual list is produced by DiversityBusiness.com, the nations’ leading multicultural B-to-B Internet Web site. More than 600,000 diversity businesses owners had the opportunity to participate in an online election to determine the “Top” agencies. The honor recognizes 20 government agencies and 50 corporations, and is collectively called the Div50. The business owners based their decisions on such factors as the volume, consistency and quality of business opportunities granted. AAFES garnered recognition due to the fact that it did more than $80 million worth of business with women-, minority- and Veteran-owned companies in 2007.

“AAFES works diligently to ensure a diverse product mix is represented in our stores,” said AAFES’ Commander Brig. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood. “Having the right product, at the right price and at the right time is what our customers expect, and what they deserve. Tapping into all sources just makes good business sense.”
AAFES, along with the other winning companies, will be honored at a special awards ceremony at DiversityBusiness.com’s 8th Annual Multicultural Business Conference in Las Vegas in April.

AAFES ‘Green’ Initiatives Expected to Pay Off for Military Community

DALLAS – The Department of Defense’s oldest and largest retailer, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, is embarking on a variety of energy-saving initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment and strengthen the exchange benefit military families have come to depend on.

From vending machines to gas station canopies, AAFES is implementing “green” initiatives at exchange facilities on Army and Air Force installations across the globe. 

“AAFES is a global retailer with more than 3,100 facilities in some 30 countries,” said AAFES’ Energy Program Manager Ann Scott. “Considering the size and scope of our mission, it makes sense to evaluate every possible ‘green’ option available. Fortunately, new opportunities to save energy and increase earnings are growing every day.”  

More options are turning into reduced energy consumption in AAFES’ vending operations as 40 additional ENERGY STAR® beverage vending machine models became available in 2007. With older vending machines consuming some 192 kwh per month compared to 172.5 kwh for ENERGY STAR® versions, AAFES is focused on ensuring at least 10 percent or more of their 21,000 beverage machines are ENERGY STAR® compliant before the end of 2008. Successful expansion of ENERGY STAR® beverage vending machines from 1,664 currently in place at AAFES to 2,264 is projected to generate annual savings of more than $42,000 once the 10 percent target is met.

“Drinks stay cold, less energy is used and AAFES is able to return the savings to the annual dividend this command annually provides to the military community,” said AAFES’ Commander Brig. Gen. Keith Thurgood. “It’s smart business decisions like this that will make it possible for AAFES to deliver even more in the coming decade than the $2.4 billion it provided the Armed Forces in the past 10 years.”

From cool beverages to hot food, AAFES is also partnering with a number of name-brand franchises to reduce energy consumption in its fast food offerings. Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway are just a few of AAFES’ name-brand partners that are leading the way in inventive “pollution solutions” such as adjustable HVAC systems that run based on need versus a constant rate, eco-friendly building designs, LED menu boards and concept signing, as well as energy efficient refrigeration and heating methods.

Historically, fast food facilities, main exchanges and shoppettes have accounted for the majority of energy consumption at AAFES. Shoppettes, essentially the military version of convenience stores, often have gas pumps that require constant lighting for drivers to be able to fill up 24/7. The canopies that cover these pumps can easily consume 6,000 watts of electricity with standard lighting. Testing of a new generation of energy efficient fixtures has yielded savings of up 44 percent.

Recognized as an ENERGY STAR® retailer, AAFES began an aggressive training program in August 2007 to help its main store associates better assist energy-conscious shoppers. An on-going ENERGY STAR® awareness campaign is now branching out beyond appliances and electronics as the AAFES stock assortment now features a 20 percent mix of Compact Fluorescent Lighting options that use less energy and have a longer-rated life than conventional light bulbs.

CFL purchases at AAFES activities have grown steadily in the past two years, increasing from 8.2 percent of retail lighting sales in 2006 to 10 percent in 2007. Launched in February 2008, AAFES’ CFL light bulb awareness campaign is focused on the prominent display of CFL products and options.

“The CFL initiative is consistent with the military’s goal to cut energy costs and protect the environment,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Sales Maggie Burgess. “Compact florescent bulbs will go a long way in meeting these objectives as they use 75 percent less energy than standard lighting and last up to 10 times longer.”

In addition to the merchandise inside the store, AAFES designers and architects from its Real Estate division and industry partners are pursing initiatives in energy and environmental design with the US Green Building Council LEED NC Retail pilot program that focuses on energy and water reduction efforts to decrease operating costs and earth friendly materials to positively impact the environment and community.

“We’re incorporating sustainability initiatives for long term improvements to the environment,   energy consumption reduction and to protect earnings for the Army and Air Force MWR programs from energy cost increases,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Real Estate Dan Metsala. “The Shopping Center new construction projects being developed for Ft. Polk, Randolph AFB, Ft. Belvoir and Ft. Bliss will set a new standard for us in energy efficiency as we go forward”.

All four projects are seeking LEED Silver certification. Construction of the first two AAFES LEED retail pilot facilities are scheduled to begin at Ft. Polk and Randolph AFB later this year with grand openings anticipated around December 2009.

“Cleaning up the environment begins at home. For AAFES facilities residing on Army and Air Force installations across the globe, ‘home’ is the military community,” said Thurgood. “As such, I’m excited about the steps AAFES is taking to make the ‘homes’ we share with military Families better places to live, work and, of course, shop thanks to reduced energy consumption, increased dividends and a better quality of life.”

Lose pounds (and save money) while supporting American troops

DALLAS – A recent hike in postal rates has Americans wishing to support deployed troops feeling light in the wallet. A seven pound parcel sent first class mail from the U.S. to Iraq now costs $37 just for shipping and handling, not including the amount already spent for the contents inside the package.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) “Gifts from the Homefront” program reduces mail expenses and ensures that virtually all funds earmarked for the troops go to the troops.

Created in March, 2003 after the Department of Defense gave its “stamp of approval,” AAFES’ troop support initiative makes it easy and affordable to support those downrange. For a flat shipping and handling charge of just $4.95, Americans can send as much as they want through a lightweight gift certificate that can be redeemed for anything in the BX/PX.

“This effort minimizes shipping costs while enabling Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines to get exactly what they need,” said AAFES spokesperson Lt. Col. Dean Thurmond. “Instead of spending a great deal of money sending a hefty package, gift certificates that can be redeemed for merchandise already in the war zone maximizes support for our troops and reduces expenses for their advocates.”

AAFES currently operates 53 facilities in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. While inventories can vary from location to location, most facilities carry a full assortment of health and beauty items, toiletries, snacks and drinks.

“Gifts From the Homefront” can be sent to deployed troops by logging on to www.aafes.org or calling 877-770-4438. From there, the gift certificates 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® or USO. “Gifts From the Homefront” gift certificates can be redeemed at exchange facilities worldwide. Recent reports indicate troops shopping their contingency exchanges are reaching for beauty items, soft drinks, snacks, Military Exchange Global prepaid calling cards, magazines, movies and more.

As of July 31, approximately 91,000 “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates have been sent since the Department of Defense approved the exchange support campaign in March 2003. More than 23,000 of these have been delivered to service members and their families via AAFES’ 10 charitable partners.

AAFES and SmartPay® make good cents

DALLAS – The competitive prices and convenience Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) operations offer military shoppers don’t end at work. In fact, all authorized GSA SmartPay® Card holders can quickly and easily get the items their unit or office needs without leaving the installation or, if making a purchase through the Exchange Online Store, without even leaving their desks.

Whether shopping in-store, online at www.aafes.com or through an Exchange Catalog, GSA cardholders who procure items through BX/PX operations save time as there is no need to carry, show and explain a state tax exemption letter because almost everything the exchange carries is already free of taxation. Purchases made through AAFES activities also save Department of Defense money as exchange operations proactively survey and review product assortments to ensure prices are routinely lower than the competition. Beyond convenience and cost effectiveness, GSA card transactions made through AAFES also generate dividends used to support Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

“AAFES is a military command with a dual mission to provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support MWR programs,” said AAFES’ Chief of Communications Lt. Col. Dean Thurmond. “This structure ensures that all unit and office related GSA purchases made through BX/PX operations not only are a judicious use of funds, but also a generous contribution that helps support critical military quality of life efforts.”

Department of Defense civilians who are not normally entitled to exchange privileges, but authorized to make organizational purchases, need only show their SmartPay® Card and a government ID card to make official purchases. Last year GSA SmartPay® purchases helped generate more than $200 dollars for much-needed Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. These funds are used in support of Youth Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, post functions and other quality of life initiatives enjoyed by military families on installations across the globe.

Military StarSM Card Strengthens Troops’ Return on Investment

DALLAS –The use of bank-issued cards by troops at their exchanges costs the military community millions of dollars annually that could be directed to Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) efforts.

Last year alone, bank issued card processing expenses at Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) facilities jumped approximately 12 percent, ultimately sapping more than $65 million from the Exchange and, in turn, critical MWR programs in 2007. Since 2001, AAFES has paid more than $310 million in fees to card issuing banks, resulting in lost revenues for the military community.

“Traditionally, two-thirds of AAFES’ earnings are paid to MWR, while the other 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 Harold Lavender. “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 strengthen their Exchange benefit is to take advantage of the Exchanges’ exclusive Military StarSM Card. Unlike bank cards, profits generated from the Military StarSM 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 fund Youth Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, aquatic centers post functions and golf courses that are enjoyed by military families across the globe.

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

The Military StarSM 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 StarSM Card, visit www.aafes.com and click on the Military StarSM Card icon.

Exchanges Introduce First-Ever Name Brand Supplement

DALLAS – Authorized exchange shoppers looking for high quality, name brand items at great prices need look no further than the 2007 Name Brand Supplement. Scheduled for release on Jan. 9, 2007, this first-ever 30-page catalog is filled with top-brand electronics, sporting goods, giftware, toys and much more. Another first for the new catalog will be the inclusion of a promotional code good for a one-time 10 percent savings off an entire order.

“We’re breaking new ground in convenience and affordability with this catalog,” said AAFES Chief Marketing Officer Richard Sheff. “We’ve shopped for the best brands, keeping style and savings in mind and are even providing an opportunity to take an additional 10 percent off the already low prices military families have come to expect from their Exchange catalog.”

From the most advanced in home audio and video equipment to top-quality living room furniture and the newest appliances, the 2007 Name Brand supplement has something for every member of the military family, including some of the most popular fragrances (for both him and her), classic watches and fashionable clogs and sandals.

Prices in this all-services supplement are valid through April 3, 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.

Patriotic Quilt Warms Deployed Troops’ Hearts

DALLAS – As part of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s ongoing Patriot Connection campaign, a new chapter, nearly a year in the making, is beginning for quilt squares that carry messages of support and reminders of home to troops serving throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (photos available on request).

Early in 2006, associates from AAFES Post and Base Exchanges (PXs/BXs) began enlisting the support of their local military communities to create quilt squares highlighting the images and traditions unique to their installation. Squares full of unit patches, messages of encouragement and salutes to the military’s storied past soon began pouring into AAFES headquarters in Dallas, Texas. After taking receipt of more than 100 squares, a team of civilian and military personnel got to work assembling the individual squares into combined displays that have spent the past 10 months on the road at Army, Air Force and Marine installations throughout the United States, Pacific and Europe.

“The response was overwhelming,” said AAFES’ Chief Marketing Officer, Richard Sheff. “In the end, a total of 128 quilt squares were combined to create two giant, 24 ft. x 18 ft. panels that bring the military’s rich history to life. The final products are colorful and exciting displays that highlight the fact that we all are but a tiny piece of a large ‘quilt’ which connects us together, if only by a thread.” 

After swinging through Europe and the Pacific, the quilt displays spent the holiday season at PXs/BXs at Bagram AB in Afghanistan and Camp Liberty in Iraq. Both panels will stay in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom through the end of this month and will then start their tour back to where the process all began, AAFES HQs in Dallas, Texas. The quilt squares are scheduled to make various stops en route to Dallas for last-chance displays at various installations. Once back in Texas, a permanent home will be determined.

“We’ve explored sectioning the squares out to various military hospitals, displaying a portion in AAFES’ Heritage Hall or even working with the Smithsonian to ensure future generations can bear witness to the pride our military exudes today,” said Sheff.

AAFES’ Ptriot Connection campaign is not limited to quilt squares. In fact, the Patriot Family connection provides family members, friends of deployed service members and AAFES associates a chance to record their greetings, words of support and thanks free of charge. Messages, that can be recorded 24 hours a day, are forwarded to American Forces Radio and broadcast to U.S. service men and women, DoD civilians, and their families serving outside the continental United States. Anyone can record a message by calling 1-800-713-1302. Another initiative, dubbed “We All Have a Hand in Securing Our Freedom,” is a partnership with military communities to create commemorative banners composed of handprints that depict the same theme. These banners are also sent to exchanges worldwide and displayed in AAFES facilities to include locations in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

Additional information concerning all of AAFES’ Patriot Connection efforts is available online at http://www.aafes.com/Patriot_Family/home.asp.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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>.


     "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

     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.



Locate your Favorite Posters