Exchange Retail Management Training Program Empowers Veterans to Keep Serving

Veterans in the summer 2018 class of the Exchange’s Veteran Retail Management Training program toured the main store at Fort Hood, Texas.

When Joevany Ortega deployed to Kosovo eight years ago, he saw firsthand how much the Army & Air Force Exchange Service means to America’s Warfighters.

Now, he wants to pay it forward.

Ortega is one of 10 Veterans in the summer 2018 class of the Exchange’s Veteran Retail Management Training program, which prepares new and current associates for manager positions.

“I don’t see any better way to say ‘thanks’ to our heroes than by serving them,” said Ortega, who served in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard from 2008 to 2018. “By personal experience, I know what they go through. It’s not easy being apart from home, and the Exchange is like a safe haven.”

Hands-on instruction 

The class started with two weeks of initial training at headquarters, including a June 18 day trip to Fort Hood. The 10-week program will take trainees to Exchanges all over the country for hands-on instruction in the management of Exchange stores, Expresses and more.

Stephanie Burns, right, talks to the Veterans before they tour the Exchange at Fort Hood, Texas.

Associates who complete the training will be placed in permanent roles. The program is an extension of the Exchange’s commitment to hiring 50,000 Veterans and military spouses by 2020.

“The Exchange is Family Serving Family,” said Stephanie Burns, Vice President of HR-Talent. “That’s why we’re offering these Veterans not just a job, but a rewarding career opportunity that empowers them to continue their service to this great Nation.”

Alabama to Hawaii

In addition to Ortega, trainees in the summer 2018 Veteran Retail Management Training program include:

  • Emily Felix, U.S. Army, 2010-2017 (Shift manager, Fort Campbell Express)
  • Rodolpho Gallardo, U.S. Air Force, 1984-2011 (New hire from Clarksville, Tenn.)
  • Roneice Hines, U.S. Army Reserve, 2011-2017 (New hire from Birmingham, Ala.)
  • Karen Langley, U.S. Army, 1998-2003 (New hire from Kansas City, Mo.)
  • Garth Penrod, U.S. Army, 1986-1990 (New hire from Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii)
  • Steven Pope, U.S. Army, 1996-2016 (New hire from Anderson, S.C.)
  • Gregory Price, U.S. Army, 1991-1995, 1998-2014 (New hire from Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Amanda Shepard, U.S. Air Force, 2003-2011 (Shift manager, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland AFB Express)
  • Christopher Smith JR, U.S. Army Reserve, 2016-current (New hire from Pinette, Mich.)


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  1. Yvonne Reeves on July 3, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Worked for the exchange service for 30+ yrs and would not trade the experience for anything.
    Company is a great service to all military members n their families.
    Highly recommend, especially if you like traveling and meeting new people.
    Military, active duty and retired have a wonderful asset in the exchange service.

    • Steve Smith on July 5, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Ms. Reeves:

      Thank you very much for writing to your Exchange Post. I’ve worked here for 10+ years and it’s the best job I’ve ever had, best company I’ve ever worked for.

      What about others out there in Exchange Postland?

      Steve Smith
      Editor, The Exchange Post

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