All of us who have ever served in the U.S. military are familiar with the financial benefits of being able to shop at the Army, Navy, and/or Air Force Exchanges on military bases across the world.  These military mini-malls and accompanying grocery stores, variously known as “the commissary” (the grocery store) and the Navy Exchange (NEX), Base Exchange (BX), or Post Exchange (PX), have been staples of U.S. service-members’ lives for decades.  They are one of the benefits most missed by those of us who separate completely from active duty and reserve service short of a full retirement.

News has arrived, though, that will alleviate this longing!  It seems that the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES), which runs the exchanges, is about to give all honorably discharged veterans a gift this Veterans’ Day 2017.  AAFES has announced that it will open online shopping to all honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. military as of Veterans’ Day. 

AAFES is to be applauded for offering this new benefit, which excites this author, for one, in no small measure.

Prior to this new AAFES benefit being provided, one needed to be active duty, retired, 100 percent disabled, a reservist or National Guard member, or a dependent of one of the above, to receive this benefit.  Your average, everyday veteran, who served less than a full 20-year career, and separated with an honorable discharge, was not eligible to shop at AAFES stores either on-base or online.

As of this Veterans’ Day that will change, and honorably discharged veterans not meeting the above criteria will be eligible to shop military exchanges online.  The announcement of this new benefit came by way of an AAFES Facebook video featuring former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and actor Mark Wahlberg, who portrayed Luttrell in the movie “Lone Survivor,” based on the former’s 2007 book of the same name.  The video can be seen here:

According to the Military Times, the 30-second video had been viewed more than 700,000 times on Facebook by the morning of July 18th, putting it on track to become the most-viewed AAFES video of all time.  As of July 19th, the Facebook video showed over one million views.

Military Times also reported that the video was having the desired impact, as traffic into — the website that handles verification for the benefit — had spiked significantly since the video was first posted last week.