Army & Air Force Exchange Service celebrates 125 years of serving those who serve

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service. (Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ/Released)
July 16, 2020

Since 1895, Warfighters and their families have counted on the Army & Air Force Exchange Service to improve their Quality of Life—no matter where they have served. Today, the Exchange, which offers tax-free goods and services at more than 4,000 facilities on Army and Air Force installations worldwide, is the Department of Defense’s largest retailer.

“Starting from humble beginnings, the Exchange traces its roots to merchants who followed the Army and provided goods from tents on the American frontier,” said Director/CEO Tom Shull. “Today, the hard-earned benefit is a force multiplier to recruiting, resilience and retention, serving military communities in all 50 states and 32 countries.”

The Exchange dates back to July 25, 1895, when the War Department issued General Orders No. 46, directing commanders to open post exchanges at their installations. Throughout its history, the Exchange has supported deployed service members with a taste of home, from snacks and personal necessities to name-brand American restaurants. Exchange associates have served troops on the front lines of warzones, devastating natural disasters and now, global pandemics. Since 9/11, more than 4,800 Exchange associates have deployed alongside America’s Warfighters.

“The Exchange truly is family serving family,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor. “Our associates are dedicated to serving their communities because they’re a part of those communities themselves. That personal investment is what sets the Exchange apart from other retailers—many of our associates have walked in our customers’ boots.”

100% of Exchange earnings support the military community. In the past 10 years, the Exchange has distributed more than $2.2 billion to critical military Quality-of-Life programs that promote military readiness and resiliency. These programs include Child, Youth and School Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers and more. All remaining earnings are reinvested into new and renovated stores.

To learn more about Exchange the Exchange’s history, see the interactive history timeline at To help celebrate the 125th anniversary virtually, visit

Facebook-friendly version: On July 25, 1895, the War Department issued General Orders No. 46, directing commanders to open post exchanges at their installations. 125 years later, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service continues to improve the Quality-of-Life of Warfighters and their families. Read more:

Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 61st-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.2 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at


Follow the Exchange:
Instagram: @shopmyexchange