From Fort Lewis, Wash., to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, military installations across the globe are home to more than 3,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Service food, entertainment and retail options. The Army posts and Air Force bases where exchange operations are located host a variety of visitors, contractors and Department of Defense civilians who often ask, "Who's authorized to shop these facilities?"
"Frankly, AAFES offers varying levels of service to every member of the military community," said AAFES' senior enlisted advisor Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm. "It stands to reason that guests want to take advantage of the tax relief and competitive pricing they've heard so much about, but AAFES doesn't decide who is or isn't authorized to shop."
Exchange service authorization actually begins with the House Armed Services Committee and ultimately ends with the installation commander. The guidelines, as prescribed by Army Regulation 215-8
/Air Force Instruction 34-211 (I)
, require proper identification of authorized customers, including uniformed personnel and members of the Reserve Components and family members, applicable DoD civilians, exchange associates and retirees who possess a basic exchange purchase privilege authorization card.
While authorizations governing who can buy merchandise and services at BX or PX often applies to a chosen few, the doors to AAFES' 1,384 food facilities and 279 Shoppettes are open to virtually anyone looking for a quick bite to eat. In fact, DoD policy allows all federal government employees, and even installation visitors, to dine at AAFES restaurants as long as their orders are consumed on the installation. Furthermore, anyone can purchase single-serve consumables from a Shoppette, an option that is especially valuable late at night considering many AAFES convenience stores offer
"The 'Snack Avenue' inside most AAFES Shoppettes offers a robust selection of single-serve consumables," said Chief Helm. "Candy bars, soft drinks and even hot dogs can be picked up by just about anyone with business on the installation."
Anyone who believes they may qualify for exchange benefits, including access to the main exchange, should contact their local AAFES manager for additional guidance as well as information regarding possible exceptions at specific BX/PX locations. Store-level contact information is available online at www.aafes.com
under the BX/PX "Store Locator" link.