DALLAS (Army News Service, March 2, 2007) - Since troops made their way to the Middle East after 9/11, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has aggressively extended the Armed Forces' exchange benefit to the frontlines.

Beyond the theaters of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, AAFES has also delivered support to servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center as part of Public Law 1559 since 2003. Now, with the opening of the Center of the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, AAFES is taking its services to wounded troops recovering at BAMC.

"Because many of these servicemembers are unable to leave their rooms, we are bringing the exchange benefit to them through their very own personal shopper," said Fort Sam Houston General Manager Darryl Porter. "The shopping service allows troops recovering from amputations, burns and other serious injuries at BAMC to concentrate on their rehabilitation instead of worrying about how they are going to get a clean pair of socks or comfortable T-shirt."

AAFES' personal shopper program relies on a clothing request form that indicates each servicemember's sizes, such as waist and length for pants, shoe size and shirt size. The servicemembers can also request special items that make their injuries more comfortable such as sleeveless shirts for arm and shoulder injuries, loose shorts or zip away pants for leg injuries, and hats or scarves for head injuries. Most request comfortable clothing such as athletic shorts, T-shirts and wind suits for stays in the hospital, and jeans and a polo shirt for the trip home.

The Fort Sam Houston Exchange is also taking steps to expand the BAMC personal shopper program by creating a "catalog" highlighting basic merchandise available to those unable to visit the BX/PX.

Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying servicemembers who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from OEF and OIF. While the Army bears the expense of the physical merchandise, the manpower and costs associated with making this program work are the responsibility of AAFES.

"The resolve to dedicate personal shopper positions to various hospitals is indicative of AAFES' commitment to America's troops," said AAFES' Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. "Whether they're at their home station, deployed overseas, providing support in the wake of a natural disaster or even in the hospital, AAFES will be there to serve and support."

In addition to their very own personal shopper, an AAFES barber regularly makes the rounds to cut the wounded patients' hair. Also, many celebrity and "retailtainment" events sponsored by AAFES include a visit to BAMC to visit with the troops.