Department of Defense officials notified the congressional oversight committees January 11th of their intent to open up the military exchange online shopping benefit to all honorably discharged veterans. On January 18th, a memorandum went out with guidance for the military departments to implement the program by November 11th. 

The new shopping privileges will apply only to online shopping, not to brick-and-mortar stores. Newly eligible veterans -- DoD estimates there are 15 million of them -- wouldn't be able to buy uniforms, alcohol or tobacco products. 

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and Navy Exchange Service Command, or (NEXCOM), have online shopping websites, but authorized shoppers can buy from either site, regardless of branch of service. 

HOW IT WILL WORK - As they do with other authorized customers, the exchanges will use data provided by the Defense Manpower Data Center to verify veteran eligibility for online shopping privileges. Veterans whose records are incomplete or don't appear in the Veterans Affairs Department database will need to register through the VA.  The exchange services will provide registration information on their online sites, and the AAFES call center will help veterans navigate the process.

Veterans with honorable discharges will be authorized to shop online at any of the military exchange sites regardless of service branch, but they won't be able to receive a DoD identification card through the program, or gain access to DoD installations and other DoD property where exchanges are located.  There are no plans to extend the benefit to these veterans' dependents because it would be cost prohibitive to collect and track these individuals in the database used for verification of eligibility.  

 

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