By Wanda “Sistah Soldier” Petty, President & CEO, SHE VET, iNC.
The fiscal 2019 National Defense Act expanded the pool of eligible shoppers on military bases. Effective Jan 1, 2020, over 3 million people will be eligible to shop at certain military stores (i.e., commissary and exchanges) worldwide. Eligibility also applies to the Coast Guard facilities.
Service members from all branches of service identified by the VA as disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and primary caregivers will be eligible to shop.
In addition to access, new customers will also gain privileges to utilize specific morale, welfare and recreation activities (MWR). Expansion such as this hasn’t taken place in over 60 years and should make a considerable difference if observed as a savings opportunity.
The plan has been in motion for six months or more to ensure the shelves are well stocked.
There’s no main-exchange within reach? Let’s not forget the opportunity to virtually shop. For those who enjoy tax-free online shopping, accessing AFFES at www.shopmyexchange.com will be available.
Although this is long overdue, shoppers will now have the ability to enjoy the best of both worlds. Here are a few ways to take advantage of utilizing access.
- Make a list of important holidays and mark the sale periods on your calendar to ensure you won’t miss upcoming sales.
- Attend the truckload sales and buy large quantities and save time on multiple trips for things you use frequently.
- Always compare high priced ticket items with off-base stores before purchasing. Be sure to check the differences in warranties and compare them before, during, and after you acquire items. Having no hassle when the warranty kicks in can make a tremendous difference when purchasing electronics.
- 4.The commissary does not stock some items, but it’s worth bringing your coupons just in case you scope out your favorite things. It’s filled with name brands at a tremendous discount, good quality foods (to include international groceries), and many of the stores carry local items.
- There’s no sales tax on purchases. However, the commissary charges a surcharge fee. Since prices are lower, they can decrease your weekly grocery expenses.
Contact the local military installations personnel office to inquire about necessary documents or identification(s) required to gain access. If you’re not sure where the nearest facility is located, check the base listings on military.com. Lastly, for those who are just gaining access, welcome aboard!
Sistah Soldier is an inspirational activist who helps veterans, women and minorities step into their divine purpose for their lives. She’s the CEO, host, and producer of SHE VET iNSPIRES Television Show. She can be contacted at www.she vetinspires.com.