APRIL 30, 2021 – The Department of Defense announced today the expansion of access to military exchanges.
Starting May 1, 2021, DOD and Coast Guard appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund civilian employees are authorized to shop at military exchange stores in the United States and the U.S. territories and possessions. Online exchange access will also be available for active and retired DOD and Coast Guard appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund civilian employees by mid-October. This shopping access does not include the purchase of military uniforms, tobacco products or alcohol.
Previous in-store exchange access for DOD and Coast Guard civilian employees was limited to those on service agreements overseas (i.e., in foreign countries and the U.S. territories and possessions) and access was limited to overseas exchanges. The expansion will allow all DOD and Coast Guard civilian employees to shop in exchange stores in the United States and the U.S. territories and possessions.
“Every shopper of the exchange helps improve the military community and the benefit for service members and their families,” said Patricia “Patty” Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. “We welcome our DOD and Coast Guard civilian employees to take advantage of the convenience and familiarity of military exchanges. Shopping at our military exchanges is a quality of life experience that serves the community in ways no other commercial entity does.”
Online exchange access will be available later this year for all active and retired DOD and Coast Guard civilian employees with a U.S. mailing address, including territories and possessions and APO and FPO addresses. Online exchanges are not permitted to ship to local addresses in foreign countries.
After the change in Department of Defense policy, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is opening its doors to 575,000 DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees starting May 1. The DoD announced the policy change April 29. Access to ShopMyExchange.com will start later this year.
Opening exchange access to DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees working on installations will improve dividends to Quality-of-Life programs, leverage the military exchanges’ buying power and strengthen the Exchange benefit for Soldiers, Airmen and Guardians—past, present and future.
“Shopping the Exchange brings convenience to civilians working on installations,” said Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull. “They can stop by the Exchange for essentials on breaks or to and from work instead of shopping outside of the gate—and 100% of Exchange earnings go right back to the military community.”
Tax-free shopping is authorized for active DoD and Coast Guard appropriated fund and non-appropriated civilian employees in the United States and the U.S. territories and possessions. Retired DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees will have access to online exchange shopping later this year.
“Exchange stores have the capacity and merchandise quantities to handle the expanded shopping base,” Shull said. “The Exchange is honored to welcome civilians while strengthening the hard-earned benefit for Soldiers, Airmen and Guardians.”
The Exchange, the DoD’s largest retailer and the 61st largest retailer in the United States, has served Warfighters since 1895. The Exchange offers tax-free shopping and military-exclusive pricing. Exchange earnings support Soldiers, Airmen, Guardians and their families. Roughly 60% of earnings support Quality-of-Life programs on military installations worldwide. In the last 10 years, the Exchange has contributed $2.2 billion to Child, Youth and School Services; Armed Forces Recreation Centers; and other programs to support troops and their families. All remaining earnings are reinvested in enhancing the customer shopping experience.
The privilege expansion marks the third time since 2017 that the Exchange’s shopping base has grown. In January 2020, all Veterans with service-connected disabilities were welcomed back to the installation to shop in person. On Veterans Day 2017, all honorably discharged Veterans were welcomed home to shop tax free at ShopMyExchange.com.
To learn more about military exchange access, visit the commissaries and exchanges webpage on the Military OneSource website.
Story by Julie Mitchell
Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ