Aafes Essay Contest

AAFES Corner

by Judd Anstey, AAFES

Exchange Giveaway is Music to Country Fans’ Ears

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Dr. Pepper are starting 2011 on a high note with an exclusive trip to Country Music’s Party of the Year®, the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.

Military shoppers worldwide can visit their nearest Army or Air Force Exchange from Jan. 14-27 to enter to win the grand prize. Valued at $6,000, the winning Exchange shopper will receive roundtrip airfare for two to Las Vegas, deluxe hotel for three nights along with tickets to the ACMA Awards Show, a welcome reception and post show all-star jam.

“We’re rewarding the people who make our country great with a trip to see some great country music,” said the Exchange’sChief of Staff Col. Virgil Williams. “This giveaway is sure to be an instant hit.”

No purchase is necessary to enter and entrants need not be present to win. The Exchange’s Dr. Pepper ACMA sweepstakes drawing will take place on or about Feb. 22.

Gift Cards Ensure No Service Member is Left Behind this Holiday Season

DALLAS – A favorite time of year for thousands of military members serving overseas is just around the corner. While the holiday season and the gifts that accompany them always bring a sense of joy, time is running out for those considering sending mail to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the Military Postal Service Agency, “space-available” mail should be postmarked no later than Nov. 26; parcel airlift mail, Dec. 3; priority and first-class mail, letters and cards, Dec. 10; and express mail military service, Dec. 18. 

Regardless of the date sent, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service offers fast, easy and convenient gift cards that anyone can include in a package or even have sent directly to loved ones serving overseas.

Exchange gift cards can be used at stores, ranging in size from 900 to 24,000 sq. ft., that have all the candy bars, protein shakes and magazines a service member could desire. The Exchange has also partnered with food vendors such as Subway, Burger King and Pizza Hut to ensure troops get a taste of home.

“From milkshakes to sneakers, just about anything you would think of putting in a care package is already on the ground and in these stores,” said the Exchange’s Chief of Staff Col. Virgil Williams.

The Exchange’s infrastructure makes the gift cards both convenient for those looking to send support and the deployed troops who receive it. In fact, the Exchange has developed partnerships with organizations including the American Red Cross, United Service Organizations, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society to ensure donated gift cards reach service members who need them. The Exchange takes the coordination effort and confusion out of gift giving while maximizing funds contributed.

“For many deployed service members a package is the closest they will get to their family this holiday season,” said Williams. “Exchange gift cards are a great way to ensure Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are able to get what they want at any of 81 stores and more than 200 food vendors in contingency locations including Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Friends, family, and even civic groups can send Exchange gift cards ranging from $10 to $500 by calling 800-527-2345 or logging on to https://shop.aafes.com/gcs/default.aspx.

The Exchange ‘Holding Out’ for a Hero

DALLAS – A 300-word essay could be worth $2,000 in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s “My Hero” Essay Contest. To qualify, authorized shoppers must write an essay on their hero, including what makes the nominee unique or what accomplishment or influence they have achieved.

The “My Hero” contest is open to for submissions by military members and all military ID card holders who are 18-years-old or older at the time of entry. Essays of 300 words or less must include name, address, daytime phone number, rank or occupation as well as information regarding the nominee (name, address and contact information).

“There is no doubt that we are walking among heroes every day at the Exchanges,” said the Exchange’s Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. “This is a great opportunity to give these often unsung heroes their opportunity to be recognized.”

Essays may be submitted to PatriotFamily@aafes.com in one of six categories: “community crusader,” “young wonder (under 18),” “family champion,” “peacemaker,” “earth keeper” or “animal wonder.” One essay per household per category may be submitted and each entry must specify which category that entry is for. Essays will be accepted through Nov. 19.

The grand prize winner of the “My Hero” contest will receive a $2,000 Exchange shopping spree while the writers of the best essay for each category (six winners) will take home a $500 Exchange gift card. Judging will be based on the uniqueness, quality and effectiveness in conveying the story of an individual’s military service or support thereof, either as active duty or a Department of Defense civilian.

New Exchange Mobile Center Gets Troops Connected

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service today announced the launch of the Exchange Mobile Center, a new approach to helping military shoppers get the cell phones, wireless devices and service plans they want at the most competitive prices.  

This week the first Exchange Mobile Center opens in the Fort Lewis Exchange at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. A week later, the second Exchange Mobile Center opens at nearby McChord, followed by 28 more installations this year. These attractive wireless departments within the PowerZone or Mall will provide shoppers with immediate access to the most popular phones and plans from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Shoppers can also expect expert service from trained associates and assistance with obtaining military discounts on calling plans.

“For the military shopper, it has never been easier to sort through the dizzying array of wireless choices – whether it be for the latest 3G phone, a better data plan or just the newest skin – and make smarter choices,” said the Exchange’s Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm.

Over the next six months, more than 60 more Exchange Mobile Centers will open at installations within the Continental US. 

Military shoppers who prefer to buy online can also enjoy Exchange Mobile Center.  By visiting The Exchange’s website, shoppers can choose from more than 180 phones, service plans from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, and a selection of more than 800 accessories, all at competitive prices. The online service offers side-by-side comparisons of phones and plans, plus tips and education on military discounts that can help save on monthly phone service Authorized shoppers can access the Exchange Mobile Center online directly at www.aafes.com/mobilecenter.

“The Exchange’s customers live a very mobile and connected lifestyle, and typically want the latest and greatest in new technology and devices,” said Chief Helm. “Exchange Mobile Center brings the wireless world to the military’s fingertips and into their stores with top brands and great services, all at competitive prices.”

This latest initiative complements the recently launched Exchange Home Services, which allows military families in the continental United States go online to compare local offerings for TV, internet and telephone, individually or bundled, to ensure they are receiving the best deals in their area.

AAFES Reimbursing Shoppers Affected by Double Credit Card Charges at Local Level

DALLAS – While the Army & Air Force Exchange Service continues to work around the clock to remedy erroneous credit and debit card charges created as a result of a processing error, shoppers who incurred overdraft fees are being reimbursed at their local facility.

“We promised to do the right thing for our customers that were affected by this unfortunate glitch and we are honoring that promise,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Jeffry Helm. “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused and want to reimburse them as quickly as possible.”

Shoppers whose credit cards were double charged and, as a result, suffered overdraft fees, can simply bring documentation, such as an overdraft notice or online statement, to their nearest exchange for a full refund of the fees.

The processing error that produced duplicate charges affected AAFES locations worldwide. Depending on the type of card used, corrective action could be visible to the customer anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks.

AAFES Working Double Time to Correct Inadvertent Charges

DALLAS – Numerous transactions at Army and Air Force Exchange operations are experiencing a double whammy no one saw coming; a processing error resulting in duplicate charges on credit and debit card transactions.

“Shoppers who swiped their cards anytime between Aug. 7 and Aug. 9 at an AAFES facility are strongly encouraged to review their statements to see if they are impacted by this issue,” said AAFES’ Chief of Staff Col. Virgil Williams. “If a customer finds a billing anomaly, no action will be required on their part as we’re working to correct inaccuracies on their behalf.”

Scores of associates from AAFES’ Information Technology and Finance and Accounting teams are working around the clock to remedy any and all erroneous charges created as a result of the processing error.

“We’re putting all the resources we have towards doing the right thing for customers affected by this unfortunate turn of events” said Williams. “If there is an overdraft fee as result of a duplicate charge, we’re going to fix it. Our priority is to take corrective action as quickly as possible and return customers’ accounts to the exact state they were prior to this glitch.”

The processing error that produced duplicate charges affected AAFES locations worldwide. Depending on the type of card used, corrective action could be visible to the customer anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks.

“The timeline is subject to a number of variables,” said Williams. “Regardless, we want exchange shoppers to know that every possible measure is being taken to eliminate any additional charges and rectify any concerns created as a result of this processing miscue.”

Lights, Camera, Action! AAFES to Open First-Run Movie Theater at Ft. Bliss

DALLAS – Military moviegoers living on and around Ft. Bliss will soon be able to see the hottest releases, on the installation, as the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Southern Theaters, L.L.C. works to open a first-run movie theater at the new Freedom Crossing Lifestyle Center this fall.

The Grand Theater will feature 10 screens, all digital projection, and stadium seating. Capable of seating 1,712 moviegoers, the theater will be only the second theater in CONUS to show first-run movies on a military installation (Ft. Benning).

“This is just one of many exciting announcements we anticipate making in the upcoming months as we continue the development of Freedom Crossing,” said Joe Giuffreda, vice president of the Community Development Initiative at AAFES. “Being able to provide first-run movies is a great way to enhance the lifestyle and quality of life for Army personnel, their families and retirees that work and live on or around Fort Bliss.”

Freedom Crossing at Fort Bliss is a public/private venture that will offer national, regional and local retailers the unique opportunity to privately operate within a shopping center on a military installation. In addition to the traditional Post Exchange and Commissary, the open air center will feature premium branded specialty retail offerings including apparel, jewelry, sporting goods and several full service restaurants.

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.

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.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is glad to announce Caring Scholarship Contest. The Exchange is excited to reward young scholars who are making a difference in their community. Military students who excel at serving their communities can earn cash for college by telling their stories in an essay contest. Through the worldwide Rewards of Caring scholarship contest, four winners will each be awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

For more than 118 years, the Exchange’s mission has been to support the men and women of the armed forces during military operations, humanitarian missions and other endeavors around the world.


  • Military students who excel at serving their communities can apply
  • To enter, authorized students in grades six through 12 with a 2.5 or higher grade-point average

How to Apply:

For applying the scholarship contest, the students can submit an essay in English of 500 words or less explaining their involvement in community service projects and why their community is important to them.

Submitting Details:

Students can submit essays to:

AAFES Rewards of Caring Scholarship Contest
P.O. Box 7837
Melville, NY 11775-7837

Award Amount:

Four winners will be selected and each be awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

Application Deadline:

The applicants can submit their essay from Feb. 5, 2016 through March 3, 2016.

Link for More Information:


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