A veteran gives a salute to passing Fairchild Air Force Base Airmen during the annual Armed Forces Torchlight Parade May 20, 2017, in downtown Spokane, Washington. The Lilac Festival began as local club that held annual flower shows until the celebration merged with the newly appointed Armed Forces day in 1949.

(U.S. Air Force Photo / Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

Grand Forks GM Gets Word Out about Veterans Online Shopping Benefit

Grand Forks Exchange General Manager Brian Read shares with representatives from Veterans’ groups and support organizations that all honorably discharged Veterans can shop online tax-free for life.


3 great tips for taking to Veterans groups

For Grand Forks Exchange General Manager Brian Read, staying engaged with his community was key to spreading the word to North Dakota Veterans this month about their online shopping benefit.

The Military Affairs Committee of the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce invited Read to speak at its Jan. 16 meeting. Read used the opportunity to tell the Veterans groups in attendance about change in Department of Defense policy to allow all honorably discharged Veterans to shop tax-free for life at ShopMyExchange.com.

His engagement is a prime example of how Exchange stores play a crucial role in delivering news about the benefit to their military communities.

“Too many Veterans don’t know they are eligible for lifelong online shopping privileges,” Read said. “So much has already been done, but we know there are Veterans we have not yet reached.”

The Grand Forks Exchange provides helpful information regarding Veterans online shopping benefit at the Military Affairs Committee meeting

“Too many Veterans don’t know they are eligible for lifelong online shopping privileges. So much has already been done, but we know there are Veterans we have not yet reached.”

-Brian Read, general manager, Grand Forks AFB, N.D.

Col. Benjamin Spencer, 319th Air Base wing commander; and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Thomas, command chief; attended along with nearly 20 representatives from Veterans groups and support organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Disabled American Veterans, University of North Dakota Air Force ROTC and Army National Guard.

During his 10-minute presentation, Read highlighted how Veterans make life better for those who serve today by shopping at ShopMyExchange.com. 100 percent of Exchange earnings support military communities, including Quality-of-Life programs essential to force readiness and resiliency.


One opportunity leading to another

Read made sure his message made an impression. Those in attendance took home Exchange swag and information about the shopping benefit, including instructions on how to determine eligibility.

Read experienced firsthand how one opportunity can lead to another.

“Out of the Military Affairs Committee engagement, I received an invitation to speak at an American Legion event in June,” Read said. “Who knows what’s next?”

Read, a 17-year Exchange associate, credits the Grand Forks Exchange team for the engagement’s success.

“This invitation was extended by the Grand Forks AFB Public Affairs Office because of our efforts to proactively serve others and develop relationships,” he said. “Nothing replaces the impact of goodwill and cooperation.”

3 Tips for Talking With Veterans Groups

Here are three takeaways from Grand Forks Exchange General Manager Brian Read on speaking to Veterans about their online shopping benefit:

  • Earn the right to be heard: Build relationships with the public affairs office and local Veterans group leaders. Find ways to partner with them on their initiatives.

  • Be ready for short and unplanned opportunities: Commit brief talking points to memory. Use these points to spark interest and explain “what’s in it for them” during presentations and spontaneous conversations.

  • Make yourself available: Contact Veterans groups and offer to provide information and address their gatherings regarding their lifelong tax-free online shopping privileges.


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