Veterans Prepare for Online AAFES Shopping

Washington Report

(July 11) Nearly 100,000 veterans have applied to shop online at the website of the Army, Air Force Exchange Service and other exchange websites. A new policy allows honorably discharged veterans to purchase items from the exchange, a benefit that had been reserved mainly for service members still in uniform, including National Guard and Reserve, their families and retirees.

But starting Nov. 11, any honorably discharged veteran can shop online, but not at the brick-and-mortar stores.

AAFES has said the benefit could add 13 million potential customers, which would increase the amount the exchange service provides support programs for military families and bases.

The benefit also includes for Coast Guard, Marine and Navy exchanges.

The benefit does not extend to family members of honorably discharged veterans because of the logistical difficulty of verifying their identity and eligibility.

This idea has been kicking around since 2014. The Pentagon approved the idea earlier this year. It opens up the exchange to those who serve in uniform, but do not reach the 20-year retirement mark. That describes about 90 percent of people who join the military.

Veterans can prove their eligibility by logging onto is external)and providing their name, the last four digits of their Social Security number, birth date and service branch. They will be notified later of their eligibility. reports that some veterans who have applied have been denied access to the program because their records are not found in the Pentagon’s manpower system. Reasons could be that the service record has not been digitally archived or is missing a vital piece of information.