Vets can shop until their fingers drop

Nov 01, 2018

A few months out of high school, I enlisted in the Army. Then, after graduating from basic training, I was allowed to shop in the wonderworld of our Post Exchange (PX). Wow! What deals did I see?  Even with my peon private’s salary there were outstanding prices, and consequently I came back to my barracks loaded with a lot of good stuff.

Then, three years later and even though I was honorably discharged, the avenue for purchasing cheap, but yet high quality items was immediately closed to me. Over the years I have thought, “How nice it would be if I could only shop in a Post Exchange (PX) without having to re-enlist in the Army.”

Online military exchange shopping is available to active-duty, reserve, Guard members, retirees, 100 percent disabled veterans, their dependents and “certain others.” But what about all the rest of us who dared to serve?

While out walking with my close friend John Lovick, a veteran Coast Guard (Coastie), he told me about a new program that lets us veterans shop at any of the Armed Forces exchanges. This PX shopping information immediately caught my attention.

This special veterans’ privilege came into focus on May 14, 2015, when Tom Shull, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service CEO, with his “can do” and follow-through attitude, proposed expanding online shopping for all honorably discharged veterans.

Looking into this further, and not a surprise to anyone who has dared to serve, our military didn’t exactly throw its doors wide open to Shull’s proposal. After all, it takes years before any newfangled idea can be pulled out of the many different Armed Forces’ bureaucrats’ inboxes.

I can visualize an Air Force enlisted person picking up Shull’s proposal, looking at it several times, and then wondering about which of the three boxes on her desk she should place it. Her in-box? Her out-box? Or her fog-bound box?

Then, due to Shull’s determination and bird-dogging his pet project to honor those who dared to serve our country, on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2017, his assertiveness paid off.  Since that date all military exchanges have opened their merchandise shelves to all verified, honorably discharged U.S. Armed Forces veterans.

The key words here are “for a verified, honorably discharged U.S. Armed Forces veteran.” To receive confirmation of your discharge, a veteran MUST go on a computer and, using the new VetVerify.org website, start the process to have the Defense Department’s Defense Manpower Data Center (DDDMDC) “certify” the applicant’s military discharged status.

Then, depending on how complicated it is for the DDDMDC to research a veteran’s military history, one’s clearance to shop can take from a few hours to several days. In my case, it only took 15 hours to approve me (an unbelievable Army response time!), so now I can indulge myself with my PX-only online shopping!

Coming from the old Army M-1 rifle era, I am not really up to speed using a computer but, surprisingly, the first time I went onto the VetVerify.org site, I found it to be an easy process.

After going to the VetVerify.org site, follow their easy instructions. The last phase before you push the send button is to upload your DD214, or NG-22 or DD 256/257 form.

After I was approved, I was once again able to purchase products, tax-free and at a great discount, as I did when I was an active serviceman. But unlike an active military person, I cannot purchase, nor do I wish to, any uniforms, alcohol, or tobacco products.

No matter which brand of our Armed Forces one served, the veteran can shop at any of following websites: shopmyexchange.com; shopcgx.com; mymcx.com; mynavyexchange.com.

I enjoyed my first march through a two-hour shopping spree, and as I jumped from page to page I felt that once again I was living in Oregon. No sales tax. Then, when I used my bank card to pay for over $45 worth of commodities, (which is extremely easy for me to do), I smiled because, at that point I met the $45 threshold, and I was eligible for free shipping.

Darn right my fellow honorable sister and brother veterans, please use Shull’s newly-paved road so that you can receive your well-deserved government clearance and your earned right to shop online until your fingers drop.

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