As the Department of Defense's oldest retailer, the Exchange has stood by our Nation’s Warfighters in the most difficult circumstances for over 125 years. During war and natural disasters, we go where they go. The Exchange remains open* to serve those who serve us.
How the Exchange is supporting the military community during these challenging times.
As COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service remains committed to supporting Soldiers, Airmen and military families, just has it has for 125 years. As part of the Department of Defense, the Exchange is mission essential.
The Exchange is working around the clock to meet significant increases in demand. In heavily affected areas, some merchandise may be subject to purchase limits. We continue to work in lockstep with store management and installation leadership to ensure timely delivery of products to our stores worldwide.
Most locations remain open, but hours may be reduced. In some areas, the Exchange has been directed by installation command to temporarily close some CONUS and OCONUS facilities. Additionally, the Exchange has instituted command-directed operational changes including removal of tables and chairs from food courts, rationing of hygiene items, etc. The Exchange’s social media pages provide near-real-time update on hours and services available.
Protecting the force is the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Exchange is mission essential. Most Exchange locations remain open, but hours may be reduced. In some areas, we have been directed by installation command to temporarily close some CONUS and OCONUS facilities.
Additionally, the Exchange has instituted command-directed operational changes including removal of tables and chairs from food courts. Acrylic shields at the point of sale, customer service and restaurants protect shoppers and associates.
Customer-facing associates and those in our distribution centers were given reusable face masks. We started procuring these before the Department of Defense issued guidance on wearing cloth face coverings in public/working space on military installations. The Exchange has provided associates with more than 440,000 units of personal protective equipment so they stand ready to serve.
For contactless shopping, ShopMyExchange.com is always open. Buy online, pickup in store services are available for some items, and curbside pickup is an option. Many of restaurants are open for takeout. The Exchange’s social media pages provide near-real-time updates on hours and services available.
The Exchange deployed a mobile field Exchange to New York City for the first time since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The 53-foot Exchange on wheels was stocked with drinks, snacks and hygiene items to support 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, National Guard and civilian medical professionals working at the Javits Center, the makeshift field hospital was set up to handle COVID-19 patients. MFEs at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Fort Benning and Fort Drum supported troops at those locations during the pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, the Exchange has:
- Fulfilled 150,000 buy online, pick up in store orders and 13,000 curbside orders.
- Assisted with 24,000 personal shopping orders for quarantined troops.
- Served 165,000 grab-and-go school meals to military children overseas.
- Driven an additional 65,000 fleet miles to deliver COVID-19 supplies.
The Exchange is working around the clock to meet significant increases in demand. In heavily affected areas, some merchandise may be subject to purchase limits. The Exchange works in lockstep with store management and installation leadership to ensure timely delivery of products to stores worldwide.
For 125 years, the Exchange has stood by our Nation’s Warfighters in the most difficult circumstances. During war and natural disasters, we go where they go. Unless directed by the Services or installation command, we remain open to serve those who serve us.
In some areas, the Exchange has been directed by installation command to temporarily close some CONUS and OCONUS facilities. In some locations, command limits who can access the installations. Shoppers are encouraged to check their local Exchange’s social media pages for information on hours.
Army Regulation 215-8/Air Force Instruction 34-211(I) (AR 215-8) in support of the Army and Air Force mission authorizes the Exchange to operate retail and food operations to include those providing personal services, and all supporting activities for such operations, including warehousing and distribution channels, construction and the AAFES headquarters operation in Dallas, Texas. All Exchange operations are essential to the mission performed by the U.S. Army and Air Force.
Protecting military shoppers is the Exchange’s top priority during the pandemic. The Exchange has always been committed to maintaining clean, sanitized stores, malls and restaurants. Preventive measures the Exchange has taken to keep military communities safe include:
- Installing acrylic shields at points of sale, customer service areas and restaurants.
- Disinfecting customer service and sales points multiple times daily, including at restaurants and concessionaires.
- Cleaning product demo displays and high-traffic fixtures.
- Routinely cleaning theaters, mall stores and restrooms.
- Halting product sampling.
- Training associates on sanitation and wellness practices.
Specifically for restaurants, the Exchange is:
- Increasing handwashing frequency for associates.
- Cleaning/disinfecting customer touchpoints more often.
- Transitioning to take-out or drive-thru only in most restaurants—installation commands have requested closure of dining rooms in most locations.
- Removing condiments from dining room.
- Eliminating use of personal cups.
- Providing new cups for all refills.
The Exchange is also:
- Reopening Reel Time movie theaters at command request with social distance measures and additional sanitation procedures in place.
- Reopening barber shops, beauty shops and spas at command discretion.
- Expanding “unattended” micromarket locations.
- Increasing sanitization when filling vending machines. Vending machines are open, but in some cases, command has limited vendors’ access to installations, which could impact quantities of product available.
The Exchange stands with Warfighters and military families during this crisis. Examples of support include:
- Deploying a mobile field Exchange to the Javits Center in New York City to support service members and medical personnel on the front lines in fighting COVID-19. MFEs supported troops at Joint Base San Antonio-Houston, Fort Benning and Fort Drum as well.
- Serving grab-and-go meals provided to military children engaging in virtual learning in South Korea, Japan, Okinawa and Europe.
- Ramping up production at the bakeries and water plants in Europe and Pacific regions by about 8% through August. Bakery products to commissaries have increased 18% and products to DLA have increased 17%. Water production has increased 5%, producing 3.31 million gallons of water in FY 2020 (through August), an increase of more than 125,000 gallons over the same period FY 2019.
- Training associates on sanitation and wellness protocols.
- Training food service workers on safety, cleanliness and personal hygiene; reviewing and following food safety and hygiene measures.
- Posting up-to-date information on Exchange social media channels.
- Deploying signing to remind shoppers of physical distancing guidelines and marking the floor with decals to ensure shoppers keep 6 feet of distance while waiting in line.
- Asking MILITARY STAR® cardholders affected by the pandemic to MilitaryStar@aafes.com for assistance with their account.
Setting up personal shopping programs to help quarantined troops get what they need.
To maximize the availability of high-demand items, purchase limits on select products have been implemented. The following items are limited to two per shopper in store and online:
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Disinfecting products (including wipes)
As the global health emergency effects every aspect of the supply chain (from manufacturing to shipping), the Exchange continues to explore all potential opportunities to route needed products to impacted areas.
The Exchange is not limiting access to its stores but is following command-directed restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates regarding command-directed requirements are being posted to the Exchange’s installation-specific Facebook pages.
Some Exchange barber shops, salons, nail salons and spas have closed at the direction of installation command, and many are reopening. For those locations that are open, Exchange barbers are increasing their focus on sanitation, including staying home if sick, frequent hand washing and routinely cleaning door knobs, faucet handles, etc. The safety of customers and associates is the Exchange’s No. 1 priority, and the team continues to provide this critical service to the communities we are honored to serve.
ShopMyExchange.com is always open. Buy online, pickup in store services and curbside pickup are available for many items.
IDs are checked at the point of sale.
The Exchange expects shoppers to adhere to Department of Defense and installation requirements regarding face coverings. The Exchange has radio announcements and in-store signing to remind its guests of physical-distancing standards and face mask guidance.
Taking care military shoppers is our top priority. The Exchange supports preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Common practices, such as washing hands, help limit the spread of the virus.
Customer-facing associates and those in our distribution centers were given reusable face masks. We started procuring these before the Department of Defense issued guidance on wearing cloth coverings in public/working space on military installations. Through training and signage, the Exchange encourages good hygiene practices, such as washing hands, to limit the spread of the virus.
Associates with COVID-19 symptoms notify their supervisor and stay home. The Exchange has a liberal leave policy for all associates. The Exchange has a liberal leave policy for all associates.
The Exchange has deployed resources to help associates stay well physically and mentally. Signs to encourage good hygiene and reinforce handwashing, with guidance from the CDC, have been posted in restrooms. Hand sanitizer is available as well.
The Exchange is paying up to two weeks administrative leave for associates affected by COVID-19. This administrative leave is available to associates displaced as a result of a curtailment in operations, closure of a facility, or if quarantine is required based on the direction of medical authorities.
Information For Your Location
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Encourages Customers to Limit Cash Purchases to Help Fight Spread of COVID-19
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is enlisting the help of military shoppers in its fight to protect Warfighters, families and installation communities from the global spread of COVID-19.
To learn more about the Exchange Credit Program visit www.myECP.com.