DALLAS – With stores in more than two dozen countries, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa Region is rallying to keep serving those who serve during the COVID-19 pandemic—and support other Department of Defense activities in their efforts to do the same.
Shoppers across the region can readily see the steps Exchanges have taken to slow the virus’ spread: Associates wearing face masks; regular disinfection of surfaces and high-traffic areas; and expanded restaurant delivery and takeout service. But some of the region’s most meaningful work has occurred behind the scenes.
“The Exchange is family serving family—and we always want to keep our family safe,” said Col. Scott McFarland, the Exchange’s Europe/Southwest Asia commander. “As a mission essential function, it’s critical that we provide whatever support we can to our installation partners.”
At Chievres Air Base in Belgium, the Exchange provided linens and comforters to help the installation furnish contingency housing for those in quarantine. In Germany, the Ramstein Air Base Exchange supplied the Red Cross with linens, pillows and towels, while the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Exchange provided the Red Cross with furniture for quarantine housing.
The Wiesbaden Exchange has provided prepaid phone cards to garrison command for distribution among those in quarantine, providing a lifeline to Warfighters in isolation needing to contact family and friends back in America. Additionally, the Wiesbaden Exchange has supported the installation’s home office initiative by accommodating several large unit purchases of laptops.
Wiesbaden also provided the commissary with floor decals to remind shoppers to practice physical distancing. Later, the commissary provided the Exchange with disinfectant suitable for use on PIN pads.
“In times like this, it’s critical that we all help each other out,” McFarland said. “It’s not about returning favors. It’s because we share the same mission and will both do whatever’s necessary to help each other take care of service members and their families.”
Exchanges in the United Kingdom and Turkey also shared the physical distancing floor decals with their local commissaries. Additionally, U.K. Exchanges have connected force support squadrons, medical groups and commissaries with suppliers who can provide acrylic cash register shields, as well as parking cones that can help food truck operators encourage physical distancing among guests.
In addition to deploying a Mobile Field Exchange to support the Defender 20 exercise in Poland, the Exchange assisted the Red Cross in sourcing health, beauty and food necessities for U.S. troops deployed to the country for training. The Exchange also helped the 7th Army Training Command source 40 hair clippers for Soldiers training in Powidz, Zagan and at the Bemowo Piskie Training Area.
“Protecting the force is the Exchange’s first priority,” McFarland said. “The team knows that this global pandemic has exacerbated the everyday stresses of military life for those living overseas, and they will do everything in their power to comfort them in their time of need.”
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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 62nd-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.3 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at http://www.shopmyexchange.com or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ExchangePAO.
For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Conner Hammett, 214-312-2714 or email@example.com.
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