By John B. Snyder, Watervliet Arsenal Public AffairsOctober 3, 2017
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Military Veterans have been a part of the Arsenal since it opened its gates in 1813. But beginning this Veterans Day, more than 30,000 Veterans in New York's Capital District will suddenly have the ability to affect the morale and welfare of the Arsenal's workforce. And, they may never know it.
The Department of Defense's military exchange services will launch on November 11 online shopping for all honorably discharged Veterans. Prior to Veterans Day, the online shopping benefit was limited primarily to active-duty troops; National Guardsmen, Reservists and their dependents; and retirees and their dependents. This benefit, however, will not provide Veterans access to brick-and-mortar Exchange stores.
According to an Exchange Service press release, extending online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged Veterans will directly improve family and support programs for Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members as well as their families. Increased sales and earnings as a result of Veterans online shopping benefit have the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars in additional dividends to Quality-of-Life programs. These funds decrease taxpayers' burden to support services and programs on military installations around the world.
Pamela Hammond, who runs the Arsenal's Exchange express store, said that a portion of the Arsenal's Exchange store's earnings are returned to the Arsenal's Morale, Welfare and Recreation or MWR programs.
"For every online sale made in the Capital District, we will receive up to 75 percent of the profit," Hammond said. "Given that the Arsenal has fewer than 300 Veterans, the ability to reach out to tens of thousands of Veterans in the community should produce a significant turnaround in profits that will be shared with the Arsenal workforce."
The additional revenue could not come at a more appropriate time as sales have declined in recent years, thus reducing the amount of dollars toward the Arsenal's MWR program.
According to Arsenal Financial Program Coordinator Dave Madsen, the Arsenal's MWR program had received nearly $19,000 in 2009, but by fiscal year 2016, the Arsenal's share of the profits dropped to about $5,400.
This money is critical to supplement such MWR activities as the Arsenal's Body Forge fitness center, swimming pool, playground area, and the Cannon Club, Madsen said.
As the Department of Defense's military exchange services prepare to welcome potentially 13 million honorably discharged Veterans back to their military families this coming Veteran's Day, the website https://www.vetverify.org/ has been launched to confirm eligibility. VetVerify.org will use information from the Defense Department's Defense Manpower Data Center to verify a Veteran's status and will notify the Veteran if their request is accepted or not accepted. Veterans should register today so that they will be ready to shop on Veterans Day.
The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned and -operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It is a subordinate command to the Army Materiel Command and the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.