DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, better known by the acronym AAFES, recently made several big changes regarding who can shop in their stores. That meant good news for one segment of the DoD work force.
Beginning on Veterans Day 2017, AAFES opened their online doors to honorably discharged service veterans. The change allowed the huge population of those who served but didn’t retire to once again take advantage of the shopping perk that had previously been available only to active-duty or retired service members and their dependents.
About a year and a half later, in early 2020, access to AAFES stores was expanded to allow veterans with service connected disabilities to shop in the bricks and mortar stores as well as online.
Most recently, AAFES pushed open their doors even wider when they announced that civilians working for the Department of Defense could also shop in person at the once military-only department stores.
Ken Lowell is the general manager at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base Exchange in Harrison Township. His store, though smaller than many AAFES locations at larger bases around the country, still carries a wide variety of clothing, household goods, electronics and sporting goods.
“All that civilian employees need is a current Common Access Card to shop at the exchange,” Lowell said, noting that the CAC is proof enough of their current status as a DoD employee.
The new policy adds a major convenience factor for civilian employees, and according to the AAFES website, increased earnings by stores go directly into the military communities they serve.
“It matters where you shop,” Lowell added. “Civilians will have access to military exclusive pricing, convenient tax-free shopping, and that directly impacts (quality of life) in your community.”
Civilian shoppers will also be eligible to apply for the Military Star Card, the AAFES credit card designed to make shopping easier while offering a rewards-for-purchases program.
AAFES expects to expand tax-free shopping to DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees to include online shopping via ShopMyExchange.com sometime in mid-October.
The Exchange has been serving America’s Warfighters since 1895 and currently ranks 61st of the top retailers in the United States.
Approximately 60% of AAFES earnings go to support DoD Quality-of-Life programs at military installations around the world. They have also contributed $2.2 billion to Child and Youth Services, as well as Armed Forces Recreation Centers.