With Exchanges in more than two dozen countries, the Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa Region is rallying to keep serving those who serve during the COVID-19 pandemic—and supporting 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 high-traffic areas; and expanded restaurant delivery and takeout service. But some of the region’s most meaningful work has occurred behind the scenes.
“Part of keeping Exchange shoppers safe during this time is providing whatever support we can to our installation partners,” said Jason Rosenberg, the region’s senior vice president. “It’s not just that we share the same customers—we share the same family.”
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.
“When they needed help, we were there for them,” said Regional Vice President Tony Ventura. “Later, when we needed help, they were there for us—a great example of a community sticking together.”
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.
“Being deployed to a remote location or stationed in a foreign country can be very stressful, much less during a global pandemic,” Rosenberg said. “Many of us come from military families or have served ourselves, so we know firsthand how important the Exchange is to maintaining normalcy in times of change. That’s what family serving family is all about.”