Exchange Brings Holiday Cheer to Young Service Members at Joint Base San Antonio

lacklandbmtJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service helped Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors at Joint Base San Antonio bridge the gap from Texas to home with two holiday shopping events this month.

On Dec. 3, the JBSA-Lackland Exchange held a special event for more than 3,000 Basic Military Training recruits. The recruits, who are normally not allowed outside of their dorms when not training, were able to purchase, wrap and ship gifts home in time for the holidays.

Just a week later, the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Exchange held an event for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) students, many of whom were about to travel home for the first time in months. Discounts of up to 50 percent were offered on merchandise such as apparel, luggage, fragrance gift sets, handbags, holiday décor and candy.

The JBSA-Lackland event made an impact on service members like 23-year-old Air Force trainee John Strader, who is spending his first holiday away from his wife and two children in Claremore, Okla. He was able to not only ship gifts home for the holidays, but also for his daughter’s third birthday.

“Training has been demanding, but it’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve had yet,” Strader said. “I’m away from my flight right now due to an injury, but if I make it I know it will be good for the family.”

Both stores opened at 6 a.m. – two-and-a-half hours earlier than normal – for their respective events. At JBSA-Lackland, the recruits were taken from the Exchange to the BMT Reception Center, where ROTC volunteers and Exchange associates helped them wrap and ship gifts home. At JBSA-Fort Sam, Exchange associates helped students gift wrap their presents in the Exchange mall.

“The Air Force is a big family, and part of that family is the Army & Air Force Exchange Service,” said Col. William D. Fischer, commander of the 737th Training Group. “We need to teach these recruits that no matter where they go or where they are stationed, great mission partners like the Exchange will be there to help make life better.”

Both events allowed service members to line up and take photos with Santa, which could then be sent home to family members. Attendees were also able to cut loose on a DJ-powered dance floor at both events.

John Burk, general manager of the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Exchange, said his store’s event was a great example of family serving family.

“A lot of happy troops got one of their first experiences with the Exchange on Saturday,” Burk said. “I overheard one of the students talking to her mom on the phone about all the prizes and the dance-offs, and I know I would be one happy parent knowing that my kid was taken care of while they’re in AIT. It’s always an honor to serve these young service members as they launch their careers in the armed forces.”

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The Army & Air Force Exchange Service goes where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives through goods and services provided. Exchange earnings provide dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs. The Exchange is part of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors, responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force through the Chiefs of Staff.  To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our Web site at or follow us on Twitter at


Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Conner Hammett, 214-312-2714 or [email protected].

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