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DoD Expands Online Exchange Shopping Eligibility

shop exchange

By Debbie Gregory.

Some 16 million honorably discharged military veterans will soon be able to make purchases from online military exchanges, under a recently announced Department of Defense policy change.

Slated to begin appropriately November 11, Veterans Day, the move is a way to improve the quality of life for veterans and their families, as well as strengthening the exchanges through the Department of Defense’s increased online presence, competitive prices and selections, and bargaining power with vendors when millions of additional customers are added.

Although veterans will not be able to buy uniforms, alcohol or tobacco products, the rest of the Exchange Services’ inventory, including clothing, appliances, jewelry, etc. will be available. The Exchange also carries high-end name branded merchandise

Brick-and-mortar military exchanges on bases or posts are already open to many veterans who live near them, as well as their dependents and surviving spouses. But the new policy will benefit those who don’t live near a base or who may not have the means to get to the base store.

Months of preparation are needed to make e-shopping portals more robust and to allow the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) time to create software for verifying veterans’ status using Department of Veterans Affairs records.

“As a nation, we are grateful for the contributions of our service members. Offering this lifetime online benefit is one small, tangible way the nation can say ‘Thank you’ to those who served with honor,” said Peter Levine, acting under-secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The commissary shopping benefit isn’t involved, so there won’t be any dilution to that benefit, or any increase in crowding or product availability.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DOD Allowing More Vets to Shop Exchanges Online

exchange1

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Defense has made a policy change to allow 16 million honorably discharged veterans to shop online for discounted military exchange products.

Not only does the change reward those who have served by giving them a 20 percent savings over commercial department stores, but it will also increase exchange revenues to offset recent declines.

Peter K. Levine, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, signed a memorandum announcing the benefit expansion, effective Veterans’ Day 2017.

Months of preparation are needed to make e-shopping portals more robust and to allow the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) time to create software for verifying veterans’ status using Department of Veterans Affairs records.

Several million vets already are eligible to shop in exchanges — on base or online — because they are active or reserve component retirees, or 100-percent disabled from service-connected injuries or ailments, or Medal of Honor recipients.

The military relies on the revenue from the exchanges to fund its Morale, Welfare and Recreational activities. By adding veterans to the online patron base, exchange services expect total annual online sales to jump from $250 million to $1 billion in less than four years.

The commissary shopping benefit isn’t involved, so there won’t be any dilution to that benefit, or any increase in crowding or product availability. Military retirees, 100-percent disabled veterans and Medal of Honor recipients would still be the only veterans allowed to shop in base exchanges.

The online benefit does not extend to veterans’ dependents, although spouses and family members theoretically could use the authorized customer’s log-in credentials, given the nature of an online shopping benefit.

Proponents were anxious to see the initiative approved before the Obama administration ends Jan. 20 to avoid having to re-argue its merits to new leaders.

Military exchanges acknowledge that they are losing sales to popular online sites such as Amazon, particularly as military patrons grow increasingly comfortable with using smart phones and tablets to shop.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.