Although many services on military installations have closed or curtailed operations, as a result of the federal government shutdown that began Oct. 1, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service remains open to support service members, retirees and their family members.
“Some of our military installations are located in rural areas, with a few located as far away as a two hour drive to a major metropolitan area. So when, as result of the government shutdown, the on-base commissaries and other appropriated funded services close, the Exchange is able to step up and provide an outlet for service members to purchase essential items,” said the Exchange’s Deputy Director Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward.
He added, “The Exchange has worked with its vendors to keep Express convenience stores well stocked with customer essential items, such as diapers, bread, milk and frozen food, during this period of higher demand as a result of commissary and dining hall closures (overseas commissaries remain open).”
The Exchange goes wherever service members work or live and operates facilities during contingency operations, such as in Afghanistan, when military personnel responded and assisted in Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or during the current government shutdown.
‘We are proud of our ability to respond whenever the need arises; whether it is a contingency, disaster relief or a government shutdown, the Exchange stands ready to answer the call,” said Ward.
The Exchange operates facilities for service members, retirees and their families in more than 30 countries, 50 states and five U.S. territories. Nearly two-thirds of the Exchange’s earnings are given back in the form of dividends to the Army and Air Force to support morale, welfare and recreation programs on military installations.
“All of our stores, including our website http://www.shopmyexchange.com, are open during this government shutdown providing tax-free shopping with quality products, including name brands at convenient prices too,” added the Exchange’s Chief of Staff Col. Tom Ockenfels.
“The Exchange is largely unaffected by the shutdown as it is a non-appropriated funded instrumentality,” said Ockenfels. “This means nearly 97 percent of the Exchange’s funding is generated by sales and three percent from tax dollar support.”
“By operating the Exchange as a non-appropriated funded instrumentality with 97 percent of its operating budget funded through sales, while providing dividends back to help service members and their families and to support quality life programs, we saved American taxpayers $688 million last year,” said Ockenfels.
The Exchange’s worldwide facilities, including 131 main stores, 174 Military Clothing stores, 72 movie theaters, 850 specialty stores (Express convenience stores, gas stations, troops stores, Class Six outlets, bookstores, etc.) and 1,590 quick serve restaurants, such as Taco Bell, Subway, Burger King, Popeye’s and Starbucks remain open to support service members and their families during this shutdown.