AAFES Corner 

Eight Billion Dollar Military Retailer Names Michael P. Howard as Chief Operating Officer

by Judd Anstey, AAFES

DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s military leadership has named Chief Financial Officer Michael P. Howard as the 111-year old retailer’s new Chief Operating Officer as of Oct. 21, 2006.

“I first assessed the skills and attributes I believe would be most needed to fit the situation AAFES must deal with in the next couple of years,” said AAFES’ Commander Maj. Gen. Essex. “AAFES faces the toughest financial picture in 2007 and 2008 that it has faced in many years. Capital programs to support BRAC and restationing are very costly, competition outside the gate is increasing, and the need for military Morale, Welfare and Recreation dividends will only continue to grow.”
The selection of Howard as Chief Operating Officer comes at a critical time for the military’s largest and oldest exchange service as it embarks on numerous initiatives to dramatically improve retail operations, including supply chain and merchandising excellence as well as a major Information Technology (IT) project known as RETEK. With this in mind, AAFES leadership felt that Mr. Howard’s strong background in retail operations, IT, finance and accounting would be critical in allowing the $8.7 billion retailer to grow and improve the exchange benefit it provides troops and their families the world over. 

Maj. Gen. Essex solicited input from top civilian and military leaders regarding the position shortly after current Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Iverson announced her plans to retire after 35 years at AAFES. “Most often cited about Mr. Howard was his spotless reputation for integrity and fair dealings. He is regarded as an extremely competent and talented executive who leads with a gentle, but firm hand.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Howard will occupy the highest ranking civilian position at AAFES. “I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead such an outstanding and capable team,” said Howard of AAFES’ workforce of more than 45,000 associates. “While I have great respect for the history and traditions of this outstanding organization, I am excited, willing and able to think and act in new directions to strengthen the exchange benefit AAFES delivers to its 11.5 million authorized customers.”

Michael Howard was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1954 and graduated from high school in Aurora, Colorado, in 1972. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Finance in 1976. He has also been an attendee of the Executive Continuing Education Programs at the University of Chicago and at Darden University.

Howard began his career as a part-time custodial worker at Lowry AFB Exchange, Colorado. 

During his career Howard has held the following positions:

Supervisory Accounting Tech., Central Area, MO 1977-1980
Operations Manager, McChord AFB, WA 1980-1982
Sales and Merchandise Manager, McChord AFB, WA 1982-1983
Sales and Merchandise Manager, Hanau Exchange, Germany 1983-1985
Asst. Main Store Manager, Frankfurt Exchange, Germany 1985-1987
Main Store Manager, March AFB, CA 1987-1991
Main Store Manager, McChord AFB, WA 1992-1997
General Manager, Colorado Springs, CO 1998-2001
Area Manager, Columbia Area 2001–2003
VP Real Estate, HQ AAFES, TX 2003-2004
Project Director, Project Retek, HQ AAFES, TX 2004-2004
Chief Information Officer, Information Technology, HQ AAFES, TX 2004-2006
Chief Financial Officer, HQ AAFES, TX 2006-Present

New Merchandising System Brings Industry Best Practices to Exchanges

1 Lt  LaShonda Bush, AAFES

DALLAS Staying on the cutting edge of business while maintaining quality merchandise and low prices for customers is critical to any successful business. As a government entity that operates like a private retailer, the demands to increase efficiencies during wartime become even greater for the Department of Defense’s largest retail command, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

In order to provide items and services of convenience and necessity at competitively low prices while strengthening the return on investment for active duty military, retirees and their families, AAFES is implementing a state-of-the-art buying system called Retek.

“We turned on ‘Wave 1’ of the Retek project last year,” said AAFES Senior Vice President of Sales Maggie Burgess. “While we had much to celebrate in 2005, we recognize our work is not done.”

The merchandising system, expected to increase sales, reduce inventory investment and decrease operating costs, is projected to increase earnings by $261.4 million over the next five years. Earnings increases will be seen by troops and their families in the form of increased annual dividends to military Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. In the past 10 years, more than $2 billion has been contributed by AAFES to the Army and Air Force to spend on quality of life improvements, including libraries, sports programs and unit functions.

AAFES has embraced the new merchandising technology, which has been adapted by an elite group of retailers, with detailed training for associates. Each associate working with the new merchandising system during the first phase received hands-on training based upon their job role, with 616 associates trained on a menu of 11 courses.

“It’s an intensive process, but the new system will allow AAFES to better monitor its stock assortment and increase customer satisfaction over time by having the merchandise troops and their families are looking for in stock every time they visit their exchange,” said Burgess.

AAFES expects to have Retek fully implemented by July 2007.

Help Wanted! AAFES Recruits Military Family Members

DALLAS As a military command with a retail mission, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service relies on more than 45,000 military and civilian associates to provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support MWR programs from Mosul to Malmstrom AFB.

What often sets an AAFES facility apart from the competition is a core of dedicated military family members who bring a unique understanding of exchange customers’ needs to the PX/BX. These 11,122 active duty military family members now account for nearly a quarter of all AAFES associates, making AAFES one of the largest employers (if not the largest employer) of military families.            

“Military family members are already AAFES customers; they understand troops better than anyone,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Human Resources Mike Westphal. “Having them in our stores is really a win/win for all involved. Customers receive top-notch service from a member of their community, AAFES shares best practices from store to store through associates who move from location to location and family members take comfort in knowing that they’ll receive preferred employment opportunities when they arrive at their new duty station.”

Like other Department of Defense employers, AAFES offers employment preference to military spouses and family members. Once employed, AAFES’ reinstatement program helps military families when they move from installation to installation by allowing eligible AAFES associates to compete with current associates for in-house jobs. “That’s in addition to having up to 36 months to find a job at the new location, while maintaining eligibility for reinstatement benefits,” said Westphal.

As a founding member of the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, AAFES was one of the first employers to sign a statement of support pledging its best efforts to increase employment opportunities and provide training for Army spouses. Out of that partnership, AAFES has developed an aggressive initiative to expand career opportunities for military spouses of all branches called the “Spouse Employment Continuity” program. Started on Feb. 1, 2006, this effort offers non-competitive priority placement to eligible AAFES associates who are spouses of military members, required to relocate with their sponsor. Currently, the provisions of the one-year test apply to spouses relocated to or within the Continental United States. Upon conclusion, and depending on the results of the test, “Spouse Employment Continuity” will be considered for AAFES-wide implementation.

AAFES is currently recruiting for entry-level positions and management positions worldwide in Retail, Information Systems, Finance & Accounting, Logistics, Food Service/Restaurant Management, Contracting & Procurement, and occasionally other career fields. Military family members can find out more about AAFES’ “Spouse Employment Preference” program, along with a listing of current job openings, at http://odin.aafes.com/employment/default.asp.  

Step Outside with the New 2006 Outdoor Living Exchange Catalog  

DALLAS The Exchange’s 2006 Outdoor Living Catalog is now available with more than 150 new lawn and garden accessories designed to bring indoor comfort and style to the outdoors. From solar-powered lights and umbrellas to an automatic lawn mower that uses no gas or oil, the 36 page supplement has just what troops need to make the most of their yard this spring and summer.

“Military customers continue to look for quality outdoor living products at affordable prices,” said Vice President of Direct Marketing, Angela Borck. “Because of this, the Exchange Outdoor Living catalog is growing in popularity and will definitely be a customer favorite this year with all of the new and innovative items that are offered.”

The 2006 Outdoor Living Exchange Catalog is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid March 28, 2006, through August 15, 2006, 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.

Authorized customers can also shop the 2006 Outdoor Living Exchange Catalog online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.  

POGs, Gift Certificates that Make Cents

  DALLAS ID card? Check. Protective gear? Check. Plastic coins? Check. Shopping in a war zone presents its own challenges, not the least of which is the weight of traditional currency.  

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service helps troops meet Department of Defense requirements to limit change in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom through polystyrene gift certificates that are used just like cash to purchase a variety of items including sodas and snacks at the PX/BX.

Dubbed POGs, the flat, disc-like gift certificates (images available at aafes.com) come in 5-, 10- and 25-cent denominations. Used primarily in contingency locations to save the DoD the extra cost of shipping heavy coins into war zones, POGs not only facilitate retail operations in war zones, but have become OEF/OIF collectibles. POGs are also lighter for troops to carry and have the added benefit of making no noise in the field when carried in pockets.

“POGs are not only practical, but they are also popular among troops,” said AAFES Graphic Designer Eric Alberts. “Because of the unique military designs, many troops collect POGs and save them to show loved ones back home. Sometimes the certificates even show up on online auction sites.”

The eighth printing of POGs, just released last month, features 36 different designs that pay tribute to military operations and cutting edge weaponry. While mainly used in the more than 50 contingency locations throughout OEF/OIF, POGs are accepted at any AAFES Exchange around the world. 

“Help Our Troops Call Home” Support Passes $3 Million

 Capt Diane "DJ" Weed, USAF
Corporate Communications Division

DALLAS Thanks to the generosity of Americans around the world, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s “Help Our Troops Call Home” phone initiative has surpassed $3 million.

As of Jan. 1, 2006, less than 24 months after the program began in April 2004, more than $3.2 million in Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards have been distributed to troops throughout Iraq and Afghanistan .

“We are delighted by the response,” said AAFES Chief of Corporate Communication Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “From October to December alone, the American public provided more than 21,000 phone cards designed to meet the specific needs of deployed troops through ‘Help Our Troops Call Home.’”

Since the program’s inception in early 2004, 88,634 Military Exchange Global Prepaid phone card orders have been processed. Of those, more than 19,000 have been sent to the attention of “any service member.”

Those wishing to send a phone card can log on to aafes.org or call 800-527-2345. From there, phone cards can be sent to an individual service member (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House or USO.

New catalog offers shopping spree opportunity

DALLAS The new 2006 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog is now available with more than 500 pages of easy-to-shop categories and spectacular values. The new catalog also showcases products that offer fresh solutions, unique designs and innovative functions. 

“The 2006 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog has everything military service members and their families need to start the New Year off right,” said AAFES Vice President, Direct Marketing, Angela Borck.  

Authorized exchange customers can also register for the Spring/Summer 2006 Exchange Catalog shopping spree. Three lucky winners will receive a $500 shopping spree from the Exchange Catalog and Exchange Online Store. Complete details are located inside the new catalog.

The 2006 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid Jan. 18, 2006, through July 17, 2006, 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.

Authorized customers can also shop the 200 Spring/Summer Exchange Catalog online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com

Cards, Gifts Impact Troop Morale

DALLAS In light of recent reports concerning troop support, it goes without saying that those who have bravely volunteered to serve in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom need America ’s support now more than ever before.

Since troops deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in the fall of 2001, the American public has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on stickers and magnets with messages of support. In contrast, critical phone support programs that connect deployed troops with their families have received only a fraction of this attention.

“It’s great to let your friends and neighbors know you support the troops, but it’s important to let those in uniform doing the job on the ground know as well,” said Army & Air Force Exchange Service Chief of Communication Lt. Col. Debra Pressley.

Today, any American can make a tangible impact on the morale of deployed troops by sending a Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone card or a PX/BX gift certificate through one of two Department of Defense-approved AAFES programs, “Gifts from the Homefront” and “Help Our Troops Call Home.” 

“Both of these efforts are designed to bridge the gap between the front lines and the home front with either the gift of communication or American products,” said AAFES Chief of Communication Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “Either method has proven to temporarily transport troops from a war zone to a comfort zone.”

The gift certificate program, dubbed “Gifts from the Homefront,” allows troops to purchase a wide variety of products at any of more than 50 PX/BX stores in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Reports from Iraq indicate that the “Gifts from the Homefront” are regularly redeemed for snack foods, cool drinks and electronics.

“Help Our Troops Call Home” provides Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards that offer up to three hours of calling from the contingency theater to the United States . In December alone, troops spent more than 16 million minutes calling home at 71 call centers located in and around Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. 

“Everyone likes to talk to their family during holidays,” said Lt. Col. Pressley. “Partnering with the American public to help facilitate that communication is the least we can do.”

“Help Our Troops Call Home” Military Exchange Global Prepaid phone cards are available by logging on to www.aafes.org or calling 800-527-2345. “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates can also be sent through www.aafes.org or toll free at 877-770-4438. From there, purchasers may send the phone card or PX/BX gift certificate to individual Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines (designated by the purchaser) or to “any service member” by choosing to have it distributed through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence® 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®.

Operation Forward Santa Makes Gift Giving Easy for Deployed Troops *

DALLAS – When thousands of miles separate troops in a war zone from families and friends, participating in the holidays is often relegated to a card and a phone call. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is bridging the gap between troops and those they love with a gift giving program specifically designed to serve deployed troops.

“Operation Forward Santa” lets deployed service members shop for friends and family back home through free fliers distributed throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Featured merchandise focuses on holiday gift ideas, such as food, flowers, jewelry and toys, with a majority of the items available at special promotional prices exclusively for deployed troops.

Deployed service members have several ways to participate in Operation Forward Santa. They can fill out a flier and return the form to any of more than 50 Exchanges in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, where a sales associate will process their order. Troops can also log on to www.aafes.com or call a dedicated “personal shopper” at 214-583-5614 for live individual shopping assistance.

“Reaching out to loved ones during the holidays is important, especially for deployed service members,” said AAFES Vice President of Direct Marketing, Angela Borck. “Operation Forward Santa makes it easier for troops to find what they want for friends and family supporting them back home.”

AAFES launched “Operation Forward Santa” in Fall 2003. The program initially targeted troops deployed in remote locations of Southwest Asia who did not have ready access to phones or the internet. While many troops now do have regular access to electronic communication, Operation Forward Santa still offers benefits such as free gift wrapping on most items, with packages labeled “DO NOT OPEN ‘TIL DECEMBER 25.”

Last year, more than 1,000 “Operation Forward Santa” orders with nearly 1,500 gifts made the holidays a little brighter for military families celebrating the holidays far away from their Soldier or Airman. 

Familiar Food Delivers a Slice of American Life to Troops in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom

DALLAS – While Thanksgiving may conjure up thoughts of lazy days filled with stuffed turkey, yams, family, football and, of course, pumpkin pie, many of America ’s bravest will be lucky to pause 30 minutes in the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan to acknowledge the holiday.

For troops deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, their Thanksgiving feast may be a Turkey sandwich at the Baghdad Subway, an Orange Julius in Kabul , Afghanistan , or even a Big Mac at the Aerial Port of Debarkation-Life Support Area McDonald’s in Kuwait .           

All of these, including more than 100 other name brand fast food locations in and around Iraq , Afghanistan and Kuwait , are operated on secure military installations by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) for deployed troops.

“AAFES even has a food court with a Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Cinnabon, Taco Bell and Popeye’s all co-located at Camp Cooke in Iraq ,” said AAFES’ Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “The smells, the sights and the sounds can instantly transport troops, however briefly, from war zones to comfort zones.”

Through AAFES’ “Gifts from the Homefront” program, anyone can play a part in delivering this “comfort food” to Americans who will be spending their holidays on the front line of the Global War on Terrorism.

By simply logging on to aafes.org or calling 1-877-770-4438, any individual, civic organization or business can purchase a gift certificate that can be redeemed for burgers, pizzas, chicken or tacos at any of the popular fast food outlets scattered throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates can be sent to a specific Soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House or USO.

AAFES officials report that demand for fast food in the contingency theater is insatiable. In fact, the overwhelming craving for Whoppers and fries by the troops at Camp Liberty , Iraq , necessitated the need for AAFES to open a mobile Burger King this past summer.

“Before we introduced the mobile unit, Camp Liberty ’s stationary Burger King was serving up more than 300 apple pies, 1,100 Whoppers and 450 pounds of French fries to 1,200 customers a day,” said Lt. Col. Pressley.  

The mobile Burger King, featuring a standard menu of Whoppers, chicken sandwiches and fries, operates from a custom-fabricated truck fitted with a kitchen designed to produce Whoppers anywhere troops are deployed. The mobile unit boasts a full-size broiler, capable of cooking up to 200 meat patties an hour, and two fryers for chicken sandwiches and fries.

“If you can’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with family, your true loved ones such as your parents, children and friends, there’s no better alternative than eating comfort food with your military family,” said Lt. Col. Pressley. “I hope every American family enjoying the holiday will make a point to log on or call to help show our military that while they may be gone, they are not forgotten.”  

Spring into New Home Decor  

DALLAS – Spring, and all of its required cleaning, is on the horizon. Now is the perfect time to take a “break” with the Spring 2006 Exchange Home Décor Catalog.

“Whether looking for trendy, retro or more traditional styles, the Spring 2006 Home Décor Catalog has everything needed to get ready for a new season,” said AAFES Senior Vice President, Marketing Directorate, Mike Westphal.

Featuring 84 pages with more than 200 new items, military customers will discover endless decorating possibilities with fresh patterns and textures, along with a wide selection of appliances.

The Spring 2006 Home Decor Exchange Catalog is available at all main stores and online at aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid Jan. 24, 2006, through April 24, 2006, 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.

Top Soldiers Sound Off on Exchange Support

  DALLAS –   Last month, four of the Army’s top troops visited the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s world headquarters in Dallas , Texas to learn more about exchange support and provide feedback to AAFES leadership.

Gen. Douglas Macarthur Leadership Award winners, Capt. Julia Bell and Capt. Nicholas Ayers, joined the Army’s Soldier of the Year, Sgt. Chad Steuck, and the 2005 NCO of the Year Sgt. Jeremy Kamphuis, for a day that included photo shoots, interviews and briefings. The day at the headquarters also included a lunch with AAFES’ Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex, Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Iverson, Vice Commander Brig. Gen. James Kennon and other senior leaders.

The Soldiers focused their comments on AAFES’ tactical field support in contingency locations. "Everywhere we’re stationed, AAFES is there. Downrange, Afghanistan , Kuwait , Iraq - they have pretty much everything you could want down there,” said Sgt. Kamphuis. “I mean, what other Army can you be in, in a combat zone, where an AAFES has a mortar round go through the roof and they’re open the next day? That's pretty impressive right there."

Capt. Bell echoed the NCO of the Year’s sentiments as she recalled her favorite PX memory. “When I was in Germany and we deployed to Macedonia and they [AAFES] were setting up Camp Bondsteel and Camp Monteith up in Kosovo,” said Capt. Bell. “There was an 18-wheel tractor trailer where AAFES set up shop there. I don't know how to explain it. It's just being away from home, being able to get a product that you weren't able to get anywhere else, it just makes you feel a little bit closer to home.”

"I see AAFES as part of the community,” said Capt. Ayers. “I've known for awhile that there is a certain amount of money that gets pushed back to Soldiers and the family; not only by employing family members and employing people in the community, but also the amount of money it gives back MWR-wise," said Ayers.

Sgt. Steuck, who hails from Fort Polk , La. , pointed out that the exchange services’ relevance is not limited to overseas locations or just being a store offering goods. “They [AAFES] contribute to MWR and our BOSS programs and they help us out as Soldiers,” said Steuck.

AAFES Command was encouraged by the feedback of the Soldiers and their visit. “Feedback is a critical component of what AAFES does,” said Maj. Gen. Essex. “The Soldiers’ visit allowed us to get an impartial assessment of AAFES operations from some of the best the Army has to offer. These troops performed a vital service by taking time out of their schedule to give our senior leadership their thoughts. We truly want to do everything possible to improve AAFES processes and services.”

Military personnel don’t have to win an award to let AAFES know their thoughts. Any authorized customer can provide instant feedback by choosing the “Customer Comments and Feedback” link at aafes.com (http://odin.aafes.com/feedback/default.asp).

The visit by these top Soldiers was a collaborative effort between AAFES and Soldiers Magazine for the 2006 AR 670-1 Wear and Appearance Poster which will be featured in the magazine’s yearly almanac edition. The Soldiers also posed for advertising shots for AAFES to be used throughout the world. 

Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) among Black Professionals Magazine’s Top 25 Companies for African-Americans

  DALLAS – Black Professionals Magazine has named AAFES one of its Top 25 companies for African-Americans.

Black Professionals Magazine, a quarterly publication, surveyed 500 of America ’s major corporations for its Fall 2005 Career issue regarding the representation of African-Americans in senior and middle management, corporate boards, corporate diversity programs and the overall workforce diversity initiatives.

AAFES is proud to be recognized as a leader in workforce diversity as it mirrors the military members it serves,” said AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “Valuing and managing diversity is a great competitive business advantage and we appreciate the contributions each AAFES associate brings to the success of our organization.”

“Workforce diversity positively influences the corporate bottom line and it is essential in keeping companies globally competitive,” said L.P. Green II, the publisher of Black Professionals Magazine. “We know that diversity initiatives have taken great strides in corporate America , but there is room not only for acknowledgement, but improvement. We applaud those companies that have set the standard and have become leaders in the effort.”

AAFES operates more than 3,100 facilities worldwide, in more than 30 countries, five U.S. territories and 49 states. With $8.3 billion in annual revenue and more than 48,000 associates, AAFES remains committed to its mission of providing products and services to military service members, retirees and their families worldwide.

Congress concerned about shipping costs to downrange locations

DALLAS – “A typical (military) family can easily spend $1,500 a year shipping shampoo, baby powder, bedding, phone cards, toothpaste and similar items (to Iraq and Afghanistan).” These are the disturbing findings of New York Congressman Vito Fossella, Jr.

Fossella, along with more than a 100 Congressional Representatives, has been taking a close look at the cost of military mail. His findings confirm what advocates of deployed troops have long known; mailing care packages to troops overseas is extremely expensive.

To combat prohibitive shipping fees, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service offers two initiatives that make it easy and affordable to support military families and troops.

The first effort is called “Gifts from the Homefront.” This program relies on more than 55 exchanges, filled with shampoo, baby powder, bedding and more, in and around Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. An efficient military logistics operation ensures these “PX/BX” operations are stocked with the health and beauty items, movies and comfort foods troops desire.

Service members can redeem “Gift from the Homefront” gift certificates at Tactical Exchanges throughout the Middle East for items priced the same, if not less, than family and friends would find in the United States .

“‘Gifts from the Homefront’ save the sender money and put the choice of what items the Soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor want back into their hands,” said AAFES Chief of Corporate Communications Lt. Col. Debra Pressley. “Military men and women use the gift certificate just like cash to buy their favorite foods, DVDs and other comfort items.”

Reports from Iraq and Afghanistan indicate “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates, available at www.aafes.org or by calling 877-770-4438, are being redeemed for snacks, soft drinks and CDs. Because, all of these items have already been shipped to field Exchanges in Iraq and are available at stateside prices, gift certificates addressed to “any service member” are subject to a flat shipping charge of only $4.95 for orders of $5 to $5,000.

“For only $4.95 shipping anyone could send up to $5,000 worth of ‘Gifts from the Homefront,’” said Pressley. “At 65 cents a bar, that would be the equivalent of 7,692 bars of Dial soap.”

As Rep. Fossella understands, phone cards provide a critical link between the front lines and the home front. AAFES’ “Help Our Troops Call Home” program was created for this very reason.

The second initiative, called “Help Our Troops Call Home,” utilizes the Military Exchange Global Prepaid platform to provide phone cards designed for the unique needs of deployed troops. With rates as low as 19 cents a minute, Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards, available in denominations ranging from $14.99 to $39, can provide more than two hours of talk time from any of 68 phone centers located throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Anyone who wants to support our troops through “Gifts from the Homefront” or “Help Our Troops Call Home” can log on to aafes.org to participate. Gifts certificates are also available toll free at 877-770-4438, phone cards can be sent by calling 800-527-2345. Both forms of support can be sent to an individual service member (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House or USO.

“$1,500 is too much money for military families to pay just for shipping,” said Pressley. “Away from home and in a war zone, simple things like these gift certificates and phone cards make all the difference in a difficult environment and make life away from home just a little more bearable.”

AAFES presents award on WWE® Monday Night RAW®*

 DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service awarded Commander’s, Vice Commander’s and Chief Operating Officer’s Coins Oct. 3 to the World Wrestling Entertainment® (WWE).  The presentation was made prior to the USA Network airing of the WWE Monday Night RAW event held in the American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas

The awards presented were in honor of the WWE partnership with AAFES to improve the quality of life by supporting service members and their families worldwide. Linda McMahon™, WWE CEO, accepted both awards for herself and Vince McMahon™, WWE Chairman.

Dan Stevenson, WWE’s Partnership Marketing Manager, said the company is elated and honored to receive the coins.  “WWE has a very special bond with the men and women of the U.S. military,” said Stevenson.  “We are deeply committed in continuing to find ways to support our men and women in uniform and their families. We believe our ongoing relationship with AAFES is a great way to achieve that goal.”

“The partnership with WWE is unique. The organization is generous in the commitment of resources, providing merchandise and sport entertainment that improves the quality of life of service members and their families worldwide,” said AAFES Vice President of Marketing and Advertising, Richard Sheff.

WWE continues to support the troops through the sponsorship of major sweepstakes and personal appearances of superstars worldwide. In 2004, WWE Superstars participated in the AAFES supported Welcome Home celebration for 25,000 troops of Task Force Ironhorse in Fort Hood , Texas .

Civilian retailer delivers copycat uniforms to unsuspecting Soldier

DALLAS While Soldiers await the arrival of the new Army Combat Uniform, the Army & Air Force Exchange and Army G-1 Uniform Policy Section are receiving numerous complaints regarding commercial retailers offering look-alike uniforms that do not meet the Army’s specifications for quality and design.

“Some commercial outlets are aggressively appealing to Soldiers awaiting the arrival of the official ACU in January,” said Military Clothing Sales Store Army Program Manager Maj. Rachel Danielson.

AAFES has received complaints regarding commercial retailers delivering non-spec uniforms while representing themselves as an official MCSS. An Army Reserve staff sergeant who received a look-alike uniform advised of numerous problems.

There was no NSN number on the label,” wrote Staff Sgt. Grant Von Letkemann. “The top did not have a bellowed back, the arm pockets did not have the IR square or the covering tab, there was no pen pocket on the left sleeve, and the zippers were not as described in the PEO one sheet for the ACU. The bottoms did not have a draw string on the hip pocket, there were cinch straps on the sides, and no drawstring in the front. The flag was not the (correct) size…I looked at the invoice and saw that there was no AAFES logo or letterhead. The invoice had the title ‘Military Clothing Sales Store MCSS.’”

Army Regulation 670-1 states, “Soldiers purchasing uniforms, uniform items, or heraldic items from establishments other than the Army military clothing sales store must ensure the items are authorized for wear and conform to appropriate military specifications or are manufactured in accordance with the UQCP (Uniform Quality Control Program) or the heraldic quality control system.”

“Soldiers and commanders are responsible for ensuring they are purchasing and wearing uniforms that are authorized for wear,” said Major Danielson. “Unfortunately, a retailer falsely representing themselves as an AAFES MCSS can make it very difficult for troops to fulfill this responsibility.”

AAFES MCSS stores are operated only on military installations. All AAFES-operated MCSS stores are listed by installation under the “store locator” link at www.aafes.com

Shoplifting, a high price crime

DALLAS Military service members spend years building careers on values such as trust, competency and responsibility, all which can come crashing down with one shoplifting incident. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has several avenues to prevent shoplifting, and supports legislation to recover stolen merchandise.

AAFES Loss Prevention associates focus on deterring shoplifting by identifying areas that tend to have high pilferage rates. These areas include electronics, sporting goods and cosmetics. Most AAFES exchanges have some type of surveillance, whether it is cameras, detectives or both to monitor these areas and try to prevent shoplifting before it occurs.

If a customer has passed the opportunity to pay for merchandise, loss prevention associates turn the issue to military police. In addition to action pursued by military police, the Federal Claims Collection Act allows AAFES to enact a Civil Recovery Program, which began March 1, 2002. The flat, administrative cost, applicable to every shoplifting incidence, is $200 and there may be further fees depending on the condition of the recovered stolen merchandise.

“The costs involved in shoplifting affects more than just the shoplifter,” said AAFES Loss Prevention Vice President David Drake. “AAFES has a mission to return dividends to Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs, so it ultimately affects everyone.”

Shoplifting in military exchanges cost service members millions of dollars annually. In fact, AAFES detained 9,076 shoplifters in 2004 alone.

Civil Recovery allows AAFES to recoup some of the cost associated with shoplifting; however, the damage to a career and reputation can be irreparable.

Deploying Troops Discover the STAR® Treatment

DALLAS In an attempt to ease the financial stress associated with assignment to contingency locations overseas, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) offers two Military STAR® Card options to deploying troops.

Military STAR® cardholders on their way to locations in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom may be eligible for a plan that offers: a six percent interest rate with no monthly payments and deployment credit limits or an option that also provides six percent interest rate with monthly allotment payments and increased credit limits. A deployed credit limit stabilizes the credit limit for the length of deployment while an increased credit limit raises credit limits while deployed.

Further benefits of both options include no annual or late fees, online account management and exclusive promotional offers.

Keith Howell, Exchange Credit Program Marketing manager, explained that the unique options offer powerful financial tools for the exclusive use of deployed troops. “This is a great opportunity for deployed service members to effectively manage their finances while they are stationed in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom,” said Howell.

While the nearly 60 AAFES PX/BXs located throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom do accept other credit cards, the Military STAR® Card offers more benefits and assistance than many other cards.

The Military STAR credit program is specifically tailored to service members and their family’s credit needs. Its many financial benefits include a 24 hours/7 days per week online and call center account management capability; exclusive special promotions; and FREE standard shipping on Exchange Catalog and Exchange Online Store purchases at www.aafes.com. Military STAR cardholders are also not subject to over limit, late payment or annual fees which can amount to as much as 37 percent of other credit cards issuers’ income. 

For more information on the Military STAR® Card, visit aafes.com and click on the Military STAR® Card icon.  

AAFES Gift Certificates Help Bring Home Closer to Deployed Troops

By Jennifer Johnsen, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

 DALLAS – Anyone who wants to support troops deployed to Operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom can show how much they care by sending “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates, and the American public is doing so in record numbers. In fact, more than 46,000 gift certificates have been purchased and sent to troops since the program began in March 2003. These gift certificates, available for purchase by anyone (even those not in the military), have significantly boosted the morale and welfare of troops and families associated with the U.S. military.

 “This program is a great way for Americans to show their support for deployed troops,” said Lt. Col. Debra Pressley, Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) chief of Corporate Communications. “Gift certificates that can be used at the PX or BX allow troops to immediately acquire items that they want or need.”

 Today, AAFES operates 54 stores located throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Reports from AAFES officials in Operation Iraqi Freedom indicate that “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates are being redeemed at these facilities to purchase drinks, candy, music, DVDs, health and beauty items, video games, magazines, batteries, powdered drinks, snack, canned food, and much more.

 The most popular items purchased by troops at AAFES facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan include Monster Energy Drinks, global prepaid phone cards and Duracell batteries. “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates are redeemable for merchandise at all Exchange facilities worldwide, and can be purchased by logging on to www.aafes.com or calling 877-770-GIFT (4438), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. AAFES gift certificates, which can only be redeemed by authorized AAFES customers, come in denominations of $5, $10, $15 and $20.

 “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates can be sent to individuals, or distributed to “any service member,” through the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, USO, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, or Fisher House. To date, AAFES’ charitable partners have distributed more than 16,000 “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates.  

AAFES/BK Give Away Mustangs: One Down, Two to Go 

     DALLAS - Every now and then military family members are entitled to a little luck, and this time that honor was bestowed on one lucky spouse who has claimed a 2006 Ford Mustang courtesy of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Burger King (photo available upon request). Peggy Clark, winner of the "Dog Tagg Drill Call" Game, collected all four game pieces of the four AAFES Burger King characters "The Grill Instructor," "Major Money," the "Grill Instructor's Mom," and the Grill Instructor's dog, "Tagg." Clark and her husband, Staff Sgt. Lyn Clark, were on their way from their home in Germany to Normandy and Paris to celebrate his recent return from Iraq when they collected all four of the game pieces needed to win one of the three grand prizes. "We went through the Burger King drive thru for breakfast, then pulled over to eat," said Clark. Before breakfast was over, they had won a 2006 Ford Mustang. 

      "We got all four pieces at that moment and couldn't believe it!" she exclaimed. The grand prizes of the AAFES Burger King "Dog Tagg Drill Call" contest are three 2006 Ford Mustangs. Clark was the winner of the Ford Mustang designated for Europe. There are still two unclaimed Ford Mustangs, one earmarked for the Pacific region and the other for CONUS. Game pieces were available on 32 oz. and 42 oz. soft drinks, the Angus or Tendercrisp(tm) sandwiches, or breakfast sandwiches. Service members, retirees and their families also had up to three chances to win by ordering any King Size Value Meal. While the game pieces are no longer being distributed, there are still prizes waiting to be claimed. 

      "We still have two unclaimed 2006 Ford Mustangs along with other prizes," said Phil Story, senior restaurant program manager. "Burger King guests have until June 20, 2005, to claim their prizes, so it is not too late to redeem winning game pieces. We encourage authorized AAFES customers to check their wallets, desk drawers and glove boxes; anywhere they might have left a game piece." AAFES' "Dog Tagg Drill Call" contest was held worldwide exclusively in Burger King restaurants on military installations from March 7 - April 18, 2005. Military service members and their families stationed in the United States and abroad were eligible to receive game pieces to the contest, for over 1 million prizes, including instant win AAFES shopping sprees up to $5,000.

AAFES Dividends Benefit Armed Forces' Morale, Welfare and Recreation

By Judd Anstey, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

DALLAS - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has announced that it is returning $242.3 million to the services' Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. For 2004, this dividend represents an average per capita dividend of $277 for every Soldier and Airman, a 5 percent increase over last year. In 2003, AAFES paid a per capita dividend of $264.

"AAFES' mission is to provide goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support MWR programs," said AAFES Commander Brig. Gen. Toreaser Steel. "These contributions to the U.S. Armed Forces and their families make AAFES a major non-pay benefit to customers."

The value AAFES offers the military community extends far beyond its ability to provide quality merchandise and consumer services. With the help of AAFES dividends, MWR, CFSC and Air Force Services have completed hundreds of community enhancement projects at Army and Air Force installations around the world. AAFES supports the mission of the services' MWR to improve the troops' quality of life and the well being of the overall military community. AAFES will continue to focus its efforts on providing value by offering low-cost shopping options and delivering an annual dividend. 

"Every time troops shop at the exchange, they provide support to MWR programs, facilities and non-appropriated fund construction projects such as bowling and youth centers, golf courses and outdoor recreation," said Brig. Gen. Steele.

Historically, roughly 67 percent of AAFES earnings are paid to MWR programs. In the past 10 years, more than $2 billion has been contributed by AAFES to the Army and Air Force to spend on quality of life improvements for Soldiers, Airmen and their families, including libraries, sports programs, swimming pools, youth activities, tickets and tour services, hobby shops, music programs, outdoor facilities and unit functions.

AAFES support to the military is not limited to Soldiers and Airmen. Because AAFES operates at Marine and Navy locations, AAFES is also able to return funds to Marines and Sailors. The FY 2004 dividend of $242.3 million will be distributed as follows:

Army: $147.5M
Air Force: $82.3M
Marines: $11.9M
Navy: $.6M
TOTAL: $242.3M

"We are proud of our partnership with NEXCOM and MCX," said Brig. Gen. Steele. "I know I speak for all Exchange associates when I say that the end of year dividend is extremely important. It makes the day-to-day sacrifices much more gratifying when you see the financial benefit Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and their families will reap from all the hard work."

Troops are not the only ones who can enhance the annual dividend AAFES provides MWR services. Civilians (aka non-authorized exchange customers) can also contribute by purchasing "Gifts from the Homefront" gift certificates or "Help Our Troops Call Home" phone cards. Both programs allow anyone to make a direct contribution to the morale of troops by sending a gift certificate or phone card that can be used in any AAFES retail or phone center operation in the world including those in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. While initial purchases made through these programs offer an immediate benefit to troops, the long-term advantage is that a portion of the funds used to purchase the phone card or gift certificate this year will go back to the military community next year. "Gifts from the Homefront" gift certificates and "Help Our Troops Call Home" phone cards are both available online at www.aafes.com.

 AAFES Grand Opening in Iraq Serves 80 Whoppers an Hour
By Sgt. First Class Heatherann Bozeman

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's newest Burger King in Iraq opened at the International Zone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, April 12.  Ambassador Stephen Browning and AAFES' Vice President of Iraqi Operations Dan Tompkins did the honors in the Post Exchange Complex courtyard with more than 400 hungry participants waiting to eat. The IZ PX food courtyard is now home to a Burger King, Pizza Inn, Gyro King and coffee shop.

"This is a great day and AAFES is proud to partner with the command to bring the troops this great looking food court," said Tompkins.

The new BK averaged over 80 Whoppers an hour and by the end of the busy opening day, had served 888 Whoppers and 357 pounds of fries.

"It's so great to be able to bring them a taste of home," said Rick Mora, Baghdad AAFES general manager. "The talk of the day among the troops here [at the opening] has been 'I can't wait to get my Whopper!'"

The IZ service members join troops stationed in Tallil, Tikrit, Balad, Kirkuk, Taji and Camp Liberty near Baghdad who are also "having it their way" while deployed. Coalition forces deploying through the military hub at the Baghdad International Airport now also have an opportunity to grab a Subway meal with the opening of the IZ Subway just days after the BK opening. With the new Burger King and Subway opening in the IZ, the grand total for name brand fast food in Iraq (including Pizza Hut and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee restaurants) now stands at 31, with 23 more sites pending.

Iraq is, of course, only one piece of AAFES' fast food operations in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Dairy Queen and Orange Julius co-branded restaurant opened in Bagram, Afghanistan, on April 10. Qatar hosts two Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts combinations as well as Pizza Hut, Burger King, Subway, Orange Julius and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee outlets. AAFES also operates Hardee's, Pizza Hut, Subway, Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, Pizza Inn, Baskin Robbins and Green Beans Gourmet Coffee facilities in Kuwait.  

"There are now 11 name brand fast food operations in the 'Stans' with five more pending," said Richard Sheff, vice president of AAFES' Food and Theater Division. "AAFES fast food activities in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have been growing at a rate of 1.3 a month in Iraq since 2003 when the first Burger King opened in Tallil."

According to AAFES' Region Food Business Manager for Iraq Terry McCoy, opening a Subway in a war zone is not like opening one on an American street corner. "The logistics of getting the trailer in here alone takes huge coordination and command buy in," said McCoy. "But it makes it all worthwhile when you see the troops so excited at an opening or hear them talk about going to get a Whopper when they come off duty."

Talk to the troops and they'll tell you how they feel about name brand fast food in contingency locations.

"I like the chow hall and they do a really good job," said Sgt. Benjamin Miller deployed to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas. "I just like to get a burger if I want, you know? We have so few choices here that having the Burger King here really helps."

"We all want to know when Taco Bell is going to open," said Sgt. First Class Ulysses Rayford in Kuwait. "I love Taco Bell and wish I knew when it was going to open. That's going to really be great here."

AAFES officials admit that nailing down an opening date is a difficult process. Receiving approvals, according to Sheff, is only one part of the battle. "Different countries require different levels of support for the facility," said Sheff. Assuring power, water and safety standards can change opening dates by weeks, explained Sheff. Unit rotations bring command changes, camp closures or troop numbers changes. There are still more difficulties; skilled technicians and local availability of supplies like gravel and concrete, as well as sanitary and environmental conditions have to be in place. Finally, the friendly face smiling behind the counter needs to live, eat and receive country clearance to be in the war zone.

Despite these challenges, AAFES continues to forge forward for deployed customers. "It's amazing when you see everything that goes into opening one fast food trailer here in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Billy Cobb, AAFES Iraq military operations liaison officer. "These folks work hard to make it happen and it's not easy."

The Third Infantry division has returned to Iraq and can see a definite change in what they saw on the camps over two years ago, particularly with fast food available now. Many of the Soldiers assigned to Multi-National Forces and Coalition Iraq are on their second and even third tours.

"It's much nicer than when we first came through. So much has built up, like Subway and Pizza Hut right here on base," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross, a personal security detachment military policeman stationed at Camp Victory on his second tour in Iraq. "We still work long hours and stay on the roads handling business, but coming back to camp is a lot nicer with the stuff we have here now."

For AAFES, Ross' comments make all the difference. "The work here is very satisfying because you see how hard these guys work," said Tompkins. "We enjoy giving our troops a little taste of home and they appreciate it, they really do."  

Good Housekeeping Recognizes AAFES' Baby's Choice Infant Formula

By Judd Anstey, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

DALLAS - The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has received the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval®* from the Good Housekeeping Institute for its Baby's Choice Infant Formula line. Recognized around the world as a symbol of excellence, the Seal is awarded to products only after extensive quality testing. 

"Every parent wants the best for their baby," said AAFES' Retail Food Divisional Merchandise Manager Elizabeth Burkepile. "Good Housekeeping has simply affirmed what military moms and dads already know; AAFES' Baby's Choice Infant Formulas safely and effectively provides complete nutrition for babies at a fraction of the cost of the expensive national brands."

Backed by the FDA, Baby's Choice Infant Formulas are manufactured to the highest standards by PBM Nutritionals LLC, a trusted name in infant formula. Seeking to provide quality products at a lower cost to customers, Burkepile says AAFES joined forces with PBM to manufacture infant formulas, "that won't put a dent in a military family's budget."

Available in both milk and soy varieties, Baby's Choice Infant Formulas are fortified with iron and are now available with the essential nutrients DHA and ARA. These two nutrients are found naturally in mother's milk and help support a baby's brain and eye development.

Products approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute may be advertised in The Good Housekeeping Magazine and are backed by their consumer's policy, which states that if a product bearing the Seal proves to be defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the product or refund the purchase price. Baby's Choice Infant Formula will appear in the special overseas military advertising section of the next edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine.

Army Announces Next AAFES Deputy Commander

  DALLAS – The U.S. Army has announced that BG James Lewis Kennon will be the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) next Deputy Commanding General. BG Kennon, currently Director, Logistics, Engineering and Security Assistance, J-4, United States Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, is expected to report to AAFES’ World HQ in Dallas before the end of July.

 “We are excited about the skill set BG Kennon will bring to AAFES,” said AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “His background and experience in logistics should be a valued asset to AAFES’ global mission of service and support.”

 A graduate of Chaminade University Honolulu, Hawaii with two Masters Degrees from Central Michigan University and National Defense University , BG Kennon’s 36-year career has taken him from Vietnam to Hawaii and to the majority of the Army bases in between. “The Army has allowed me to visit almost every corner of the globe,” said BG Kennon. “At every stop, AAFES was there for me and my family.  I look forward to playing a part in maintaining the benefit AAFES is known to deliver.”

 AAFES operates thousands of facilities worldwide; including more than 12,000 facilities in more than 35 countries and in 49 of the 50 states. These include 3,150 retail facilities of which 161 are main stores on Army, Air Force, and Marine installations around the world. AAFES also plays a large role in contingency operations with 55 stores throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Army Retirees Now Authorized to Purchase and Wear Physical Fitness Uniforms

DALLAS - The Chief of Staff of the Army has authorized Army retirees to wear the Physical Fitness and Improved Physical Fitness Uniforms (PFU and IPFU). The IPFU is immediately available at all Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Army MCSS locations and online at www.aafes.com 

Army officials recognize that throughout the year, retirees continue to show their support to, and affiliation with the Army. "This authorization allowing retirees to wear the PFU or the IPFU symbolizes recognition to our retirees' commitment to continued fitness practices and membership within the Army's family" said MCSS Army Program Manager Maj. Rachel Danielson. "We are very pleased with this announcement and will continue to support our valued retiree customer base". 

All personnel, including retirees, who wear the PFU or the IPFU are authorized to wear the clothing as currently worn by personnel in the active Army. Uniform wear policy is described in Army Regulation 670-1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniform and Insignia.  For those who haven't worn the uniforms in a while, AAFES includes the following guidelines as a courtesy to its retired customers: 

1. Retirees may wear parts of the PFU or the IPFU with civilian attire off the installations

2. When wearing the PFU or the IPFU as a complete uniform; i.e. trunks and short-sleeve shirt/sweatshirt or sweatpants with short-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt retirees will:

A. Wear only authorized accessories corresponding to those worn by personnel of the active Army

B. Keep the sleeves down on the sweatshirt or jacket, the legs down on the pants, and they will tuck the T-shirt inside the trunks

C. Not roll or push up the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt or the IPFU jacket

D. Wear the sleeves of the IPFU sweatshirt cuffed or uncuffed; they may not cuff the IPFU jacket sleeves

E. Wear the black knit cap pulled down snugly on the head, with the bottom edge of the cap folded up; retirees will not roll the edge of the cap.

F. Pregnant retirees are authorized to wear the T-shirt/sweatshirt outside the trunks/sweatpants

Troops Tie the Knot for Less with AAFES' New Online Bridal Boutique

DALLAS - Wedding season is just around the corner and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's new online bridal store can help military brides-to-be save precious time in planning for their special day.

Military Bride, which was launched at AAFES.com's CentricMall on March 3, is just a click away and offers savings of 10 to 80 percent on new designer bridal gowns and accessories that authorized exchange customers and their family members can buy wherever they are.

All gowns feature the latest styles in bridal fashion and are made from premium quality fabrics such as Duchess Satin, Venice Lace and English Net.  Each dress is accentuated with hand-sewn seed pearls and crystals.  Custom sizing, extra length and petite cuts are also available.  Most gowns are stocked for immediate shipping and are easily altered upon receipt.
  Military Bride has been in the bridal business for more than 25 years and unlike most bridal stores has a return policy, fast delivery and satisfaction is guaranteed.  An experienced staff is ready 18 hours a day to help exchange customers with all their bridal needs.

Military Bride has everything needed to make a wedding day perfect to include flower girl dresses, ring-bearer tuxes, bridesmaids' dresses, gloves, tiaras and more.  To see what Military Bride has to offer, go to www.aafes.com and click on the CentricMall link.

Exchange Services' Spring/Summer 2005 Jewelry Catalog brings the "Bling"

DALLAS - The Spring/Summer 2005 Exchange Jewelry Catalog is now available. The newest all-services catalog features more than 30 pages of sparkling diamonds, brightly colored gemstones and multicolored cultured freshwater pearls, as well as trendy titanium, religious, patriotic and personalized pieces. A vast assortment of well-known, quality watches are also available in casual, dressy, contemporary and chic designer looks.

"While the varied, high-quality assortment will appeal to shoppers, I think the value this catalog offers is even more compelling," says Direct Marketing Vice President Angela Terry.

The Spring/Summer 2005 Jewelry Catalog is available for free at all main stores and online at www.aafes.com, usmc-mccs.org, navy-nex.com or cg-exchange.com.

Prices in this all-services catalog are valid April 5, 2005 through Aug. 31, 2005, 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 have all been authorized exchange privileges.

Orders can be placed by mail, fax or phone.  To place orders toll free from the United States, Puerto Rico or Guam just call 1-800-527-2345.  The Exchange Catalog center is open around-the-clock, seven days a week.  Complimentary international access calling is available from several countries.  Please check the customer service area at your Exchange Online Store for details.  

Authorized customers can also shop the Spring/Summer 2005 Jewelry Catalog on the Internet at aafes.com <http://www.aafes.com/>, usmc-mccs.org, <http://www.usmc-mccs.org/> navy-nex.com <http://www.navy-nex.com/> or cg-exchange.com <http://www.cg-exchange.com/>.

Earnings generated by purchases in the Exchange and Exchange Online Store as well as Exchange Catalogs such as the Spring/Summer 2005 Jewelry Catalog are returned to the military community in the form of funding for Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities and programs.

AAFES Saves Customers an Average of 22.09% Everyday

  DALLAS According to a national independent market basket survey, prices at Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) PXs and BXs are on average 22.09 percent lower than comparable retailers.

 Conducted in February by RetailData, the 2005 market basket survey sampled everyday prices of 150 similar items found in six military communities. Communities surveyed included Fort Meade , M.D.; Eglin AFB, Fla. ; Fort Hood , Texas ; Fort Lewis , Wash. ; Offutt AFB, Neb. ; and Luke AFB, Ariz.

 According to AAFES officials, the savings exchange shoppers receive doesn’t end at 22.09 percent. “It’s important to remember that the average savings cited by RetailData’s survey is before any additional tax-free advantage authorized exchange customers enjoy,” said AAFES’ Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “Depending on where a service member or military retiree lives, shopping the PX or BX can offer an average savings up to 31.44 percent when you consider that our customers don’t pay sales tax.”

 RetailData’s market basket survey is designed to focus on the most popular items sold at AAFES facilities and represents all major retail departments. National name brand items prices were surveyed. In addition to name brand savings, AAFES’ private label merchandise keeps even more money in military customers’ pockets.

 “As more and more retailers are targeting military service members as customers, AAFES is working twice as hard to offer compelling value to military customers,” said AAFES’ Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Iverson. “When you look at this survey and compare ‘apples to apples,’ I think it’s clear that AAFES saves its customers money everyday, regardless of their location.”

 A market basket survey is a snapshot in time. The retail industry conducts similar surveys as an industry best practice to remain competitive. In addition to the national survey, each major AAFES Exchange location conducts local price surveys monthly to ensure AAFES pricing is consistently competitive. The 2005 market basket survey average savings of 22.09 percent represents an increase over AAFES’ 2004 results of 21.89 percent. AAFES will continue to conduct annual surveys to ensure prices are the lowest possible.

 Detailed survey results can be found at www.aafes.com.

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.



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