AAFES receives high level recognition at convention

At the National Retail Federation Annual Convention, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service was awarded the American Spirit Award. The award recognizes exceptional achievement and is presented only when circumstances dictate.
During the awards luncheon, the NRF Chairman of the Board declared that Dallas-based AAFES was selected for the 2004 honor because of its support of U.S. service men and women fighting abroad against terrorism.
When she accepted the award, AAFES’ Commander Maj. Gen. Kathryn Frost took the time to specifically thank Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Iverson and Senior Vice President Europe Karen Stack. General Frost praised Ms. Iverson and Ms. Stack for their leadership in focusing AAFES on the importance of the mission to support deployed troops.
“Everyone in AAFES contributes to the war effort in their own way and the KMC Consolidated Exchange is no exception. 
We currently have 12 associates deployed from local AAFES Kaiserslautern facilities throughout the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom theaters and sent 28 associates downrange in 2003,” said Gary Burton, KMC AAFES general manager.
KMC was also selected as the training site for newly-hired deploying managers. AAFES recruits former military members with deployment experience to supplement our volunteer workforce downrange, said Mr. Burton.
“One of our most significant contributions has been our support of the wounded soldiers and airmen who receive care at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. AAFES provides a full-time representative on site to assist the wounded as they return to Germany for care,” said Mr. Burton.
General Frost also relayed how the benefit AAFES is providing deployed troops had a profound effect on her during a trip to Kuwait at the peak of the troop build up before the invasion of Iraq.
“That’s when I realized that in locations like this, Soldiers and airmen don’t always visit a (post exchange) because they need to buy something. They often come to the PX because they are surrounded by things that are familiar: U.S. products, well-known labels, popular brands and AAFES employees. In remote and hostile regions, sometimes a visit to a PX is simply a connection to home.”
She said witnessing this firsthand compelled her. “That’s when I knew AAFES would do whatever was necessary to bring a little bit of home to Soldiers and airmen fighting for us.”
For example, Thomas Grossarth, from the Ramstein (base exchange) customer service department, provides personal shopping services for non-ambulant patients to ensure they have clothing for their return to their home installation.
He also provides feedback from the troops to help continuously improve the service we provide to our deployed customers, said Mr. Burton.
Today, AAFES continues to bring that bit of home to troops with nine stores in Kuwait and 30 in Iraq, with about 450 associates deployed at any given time. Those associates live and work right alongside the deployed troops. In addition, AAFES supports 88 unit run Imprest Funds that serve forward operating bases where it is too remote or dangerous to set up a store.
Additionally, AAFES runs 37 call centers throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom where deployed troops can go to make a call home to their loved ones. For information, visit www.aafes.com /pa/default. (Courtesy of AAFES)