From Chuck Weber, your Veteran Service Officer...

Online shopping privileges for all vets is likely, official says

Expanding online shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when,” the chief executive officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said at a meeting in Washington on Wednesday.

“We still have a ways to go,” acknowledged Tom Shull, but he said AAFES is working with its sister exchange services to iron out some issues.

One of those is determining how to share dividends for morale, welfare and recreation programs when a Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard veteran buys online.

The issues “are not insurmountable,” said Shull, speaking at the annual convention of the American Logistics Association, an industry trade association that conducts business with commissaries, exchanges and MWR activities.

In May, AAFES officials gave a formal proposal to defense officials to allow all honorably discharged veterans to shop at its online exchange store only; the proposal doesn’t extend to brick-and-mortar stores. Concerns subsequently were raised within the Defense Department that expanding online access would lead to “benefit creep” — access for veterans to brick-and-mortar exchange stores and to other quality-of-life benefits.

Shull said he is adamant that this proposal will not lead to that — and has said “no” to recent talk about allowing DoD civilians overseas to shop online.

Other sources have said the proposal is not a done deal, and that AAFES still has difficult questions to answer about how the proposal would help not just veterans, but service members and their families.

AAFES must present its business case for the proposal to the DoD Executive Resale Board. The next meeting of the board has been delayed tentatively until the end of November.

He noted that the current customer base is made up of a finite number of active-duty, Guard and reserve members and retirees that has been shrinking with the drawdown of the military.

He contends the move also would benefit the military community, by increasing sales and providing more profits that could be contributed to MWR programs, and to improve brick-and-mortar stores.

[Source: Military Times, Oct 30, 2014 (edited)]


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