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AAFES marks 113 years of service, support

DALLAS --

- As the Army & Air Force Exchange Service readies to mark 113 years of service and support to America's military, the command's mission remains basically the same: provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

Established July 25, 1895, when the War Department issued General Order No. 46 directing post commanders to establish an exchange at every post where practicable, AAFES continues to deliver a comprehensive and customer-focused benefit to troops and their families at installations throughout America, Europe, the Pacific and Middle East.

In addition to its flagship main base and post exchange facilities, modern AAFES operations now include convenience stores, car care centers, military clothing sales stores, fast food restaurants, retail concession services such as flower shops and gift stores, vending, telecommunications support and a wide variety of personal services through more than 3,100 facilities in 30 countries, five US territories and 49 states. The scope of current operations goes well beyond the conventional offerings the War Department might have envisioned in the late 1800's as AAFES even operates bakeries, water bottling activities and provides 24,000 meals a day to troops' sons and daughters at 92 Department of Defense Schools in nine countries.

Just like the merchants who supplied provisions to America's troops in the late 19th century, AAFES associates continue to live and work alongside those they serve. In fact, more than 350 associates are currently deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, actively delivering a slice of Americana to troops through 85 BX/PX operations, 75 phone centers and 197 fast food restaurants scattered throughout the Middle East.

Closer to home, the largest and most senior exchange service is focused on energizing outreach efforts to communicate the value, benefit and capabilities it brings to the military community. Recognizing the pivotal role National Guard and Reserve troops are playing as they transition from a strategic force to an operational force, AAFES is specifically reaching out to "Citizen Soldiers'" families to ensure they understand the value of their exchange benefit not only downrange, but also on the installation, online or over the phone.

"AAFES' commitment to America's troops has never been stronger," said AAFES' senior enlisted advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. "Whether at their home station, deployed overseas, providing support in the wake of a natural disaster, or even in the hospital, AAFES is there."

Keeping in the spirit of exceptional service and support, BXs and PXs and the Exchange Online Store are inviting authorized customers to "celebrate the savings" beginning Friday. Exchange shoppers who stop by CONUS exchanges on AAFES' 113th birthday can score a $100 AAFES gift card with purchase of a Sharp 37" LCD HDTV or pick up a Zvue "Spirit" MP3 player, preloaded with 15 patriotic themed songs, for the special buy price of $31.13. Additionally, AAFES exchanges across the globe will feature a variety of local special incentives such as opportunities to win gift bags, coupons or gift cards. Authorized shoppers can contact their nearest Base Exchange for specific details as contest and promotions will vary from location to location (contact information is available under the "store locator" link at www.aafes.com). More money saving deals will also be available at www.aafes.com, through July 31, including black diamond solitaire earrings discounted more than 45 percent and $150 off an Apple 17" MacBook.

Since its establishment in 1895, AAFES has been involved in 14 major contingencies (to include the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans and Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) and several dozen humanitarian and disaster relief contingencies.

AAFES is a joint command of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, and is directed by a Board of Directors who is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff. AAFES has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and of generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.