The U.S. Army Financial Management Command recently helped the Army and Air Force Exchange Service celebrate its 124th birthday at a special ceremony at AAFES headquarters here.
“Associates and customers around the world are celebrating the Exchange’s 124th anniversary of serving those we love—Soldiers, Airmen, their families, retirees and veterans,” AAFES said in a release.
As the Department of Defense’s largest retailer, the Exchange has a commitment to taking care of warfighters, no matter where their mission takes them.
“The work you do each day matters,” Exchange Director and CEO Tom Shull told associates during the celebration. “This steadfast and loyal team keeps the 124-year-old shopping benefit alive and well.”
Shull celebrated the Exchange’s successes in 2018, including:
- Supporting more than 155,000 warfighters during military exercises and operations at the tip of the spear,
- Serving Veterans through their online shopping benefit, and
- Taking care of Tyndall Air Force Base after a devastating hurricane.
“I’ve been involved with AAFES for 61 of their 124 years,” said Maj. Gen. David C. Coburn, USAFMCOM commanding general, who attended the ceremony. Coburn said his experience with AAFES goes back as far as he can remember thanks to his father’s service in the Army.
On top of shopping at post exchanges as a kid, the general’s mother worked at AAFES when their family was stationed in Japan in 1965. After his father, Glenn, retired from the Army as a sergeant 1st class, he went to work for AAFES for 16 years.
“They call it ‘coming home,’” recalled the general about his time stationed overseas as a child and a Soldier. “That taste of home when your overseas – you walk in, and it’s like your transported back to the United States.”
Having that connection back to the U.S. is something Coburn said is vital to morale.
“It’s incredibly important for young Soldiers stationed abroad to be able to reconnect with United States, and AAFES does that when they walk in and have the comfort of seeing those American made products, those American sourced products,” he explained.
The general’s experience with the Exchange isn’t the only connection to USAFMCOM.
At deployed locations, AAFES customers use EagleCash, a stored-valued card program administered by the Treasury and co-managed by the Department of Defense that service members can use 24/7 to load up to $350 per day onto a card from kiosks placed at some of the most remote locations in the world.
USAFMCOM helps manage the EagleCash program at the Army’s deployment locations and trains AAFES employees going to serve there.
On top of giving Soldiers comfort and providing for their needs wherever they go, Coburn said he’s also impressed by the benefit offered to first-term troops through the AAFES Military STAR Card, a credit program available to service members featuring low interest rates.
“Many Soldiers come into the service with no established credit score,” the general explained. “AAFES allows them to establish a credit line and credit score, and they charge less interest than typical credit card and don’t charge interest when a Soldier is deployed.”
Looking to the Exchange’s future, Shull said performance in 2019 is strong, noting that earnings are nearly $19.3 million above plan.
According to AAFES, strategic initiatives, including welcoming home all disabled veterans with brick-and-mortar privileges on Jan. 1, expanding wellness services and committing to working with the Army and Air Force on a campus-style dining program, will keep the Exchange benefit strong for future generations of warfighters, families, retirees and veterans.
“AAFES is a great partner, and they do great things for Soldiers and Airmen with all their profits rolling back into (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) programs,” Coburn said. “They’re a great benefit we can’t afford to lose.”
“Here’s to another fantastic year of serving those who serve,” Shull concluded. “It’s an honor to serve with each of you.”
View an Exchange 124th anniversary video from Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
A direct reporting unit to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management & Comptroller, USAFMCOM provides finance support and liaison on matters pertaining to the adequacy of finance policies, systems and reporting requirements to Army commands, component commands, direct reporting units, installations, tactical units and DFAS.
USAFMCOM also performs Army-wide, unique actions such as financial management unit technical training, electronic commerce and classified finance and accounting oversight. The command is also responsible for the delivery of Army-wide Financial Management functions including enterprise resource planning systems support, audit and compliance support, financial operations support, ERP business process standardization support and Army field financial management activities operational oversight.
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