For Barbara Slaughter, or ‘Mama B’ as her coworkers often called her, it was a bittersweet day as she put in her final hours on the clock with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service May 23, retiring after 31 years.
Slaughter, the administrative assistant for the Exchange, began her career with AAFES in 1975 at Fort Ord, California, and has since served the military community in Okinawa, Japan, and here locally at Fort Huachuca.
In 1980, Slaughter had a break in service with AAFES while her husband was stationed in Oslo, Norway. While there, she worked for the Norwegian government due to her ability to speak English.
In 1983, Slaughter and her Family moved to Fort Huachuca and she returned to the AAFES Family. Her career spans through several AAFES implementations such as the military STAR credit card and the Dishonored Check Function.
While Slaughter has held positions in a variety of areas, such as customer service, accounting and management, she has provided direct support to the Fort Huachuca Exchange management team for more than 10 years now.
“If you don’t change, you don’t grow,” Slaughter said. “I adapt to change very easily. I’ve worked with many [general managers] and when they come in, they don’t adapt to you, you have to adapt to them. That’s a challenging part of my job.”
Even though her position has changed throughout her career, Slaughter’s dedication and appreciation for the people that she has worked with or for has never wavered.
When asked what her favorite part of working for AAFES has been, she said, “The most rewarding thing is all the people that I have met, maybe not face-to-face, but just through working with email or telephone. It’s just been very rewarding.
“Our customers are very important to us,” Slaughter said. “The most important thing I have found is to listen and take the time to listen to what they are saying and what they are asking for.”
It was only recently that Slaughter made the decision to retire from AAFES. “I’ve been asked for years ‘When are you going to retire?’ but I wasn’t ready,” she said. “Maybe the body was, but the mind wasn’t. And I knew that when it was time I would know. And I came in one day in February and that was it,” she said.
It’s the people that Slaughter says she will miss the most. “I love what I do and it’s a great sense of satisfaction when you can resolve issues for people and help them,” she explained.
Her plans now are to “enjoy my life with my husband of 50 years, spend more time with my grandchildren and just enjoy the beauty of life.”