AAFES-Be Fit Dining Options

Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka

AAFES Offers Community Healthier BE FIT Dining Options • DALLAS

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) reported that in 2020, it opened more than 40 new restaurants worldwide, 55 percent of which are from better-for-you (BFY) brands that offer healthier fare that fits into the BE FIT lifestyle. The Exchange offers these meals and snacks to service members and their families, while at the same time keeping the safety and well-being of its customers as top priorities.

“With more better-for-you meal and snack options than ever, the Exchange makes it easy to maintain a BE FIT lifestyle,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, AAFES senior enlisted advisor. “Whether dining out or on the go, warfighters can count on the Exchange to help them meet their nutritional goals while maintaining a safe, sanitized and secure environment.”

All of the Exchange’s 1,700 restaurants, including Qdoba, Starbucks and Subway, offer BFY options that support warfighters’ readiness and resiliency.

Soldiers, Airmen and their families can also find BFY meal and snack options on the go. At more than 320 Express convenience stores, shoppers can easily spot BFY meal and snack options thanks to “Healthier Choices, Healthier Lifestyle” shelf tags.

AAFES reported that its exchanges and Express convenience stores carry more than 400 BE FIT-approved items, including fresh fruit; yogurt; hard-boiled eggs; trail mix and nuts; tuna; grass-fed meat snacks and jerky; veggie chips; and bottled water.

Exchange vending machines and “micro markets” — automated self-serve stores typically positioned in small or remote locations without a nearby Exchange or Express — also offer a variety of BFY options.

SAFETY COMES FIRST

AAFES restaurants worldwide are committed to maintaining a safe, sanitized and secure environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safety measures include expanding takeout and delivery service; limiting capacity or access to in-person dining areas as dictated by local conditions; requiring food workers to wear gloves and masks; and regularly sanitizing restaurant counters and food preparation areas.

Other preventative measures at all AAFES facilities include minimizing the use of cash; requiring face masks; and regularly disinfecting PIN pads, countertops, door handles, shopping carts and baskets.

Clear acrylic shields separate cashiers and customers, and strategically placed floor decals remind shoppers to maintain 6 feet of distance in checkout lines and other high-traffic areas.

Source: AAFES

Edited by Larry Lapka

AAFES Photo

All of AAFES’s 1,700 restaurants, including the Bun-D at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, offer healthier better-for-you (BFY) options that fit into the BE FIT lifestyle and support warfighters’ readiness and resiliency. These options are offered in a safer environment dictated by COVID-19 pandemic protocols.

President’s Message/Washington Update 1/15

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE / WASHINGTON UPDATE

From the desk of the ALA President

Vaccine distribution to the Defense industry. Since early Spring, the ALA has been working as part of joint DoD and industry task force to identify and solve pandemic issues. The effort was initiated by Ellen Lord, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Secretary Lord issued a memorandum (link below) that calls on “states to take the important national security contributions of defense industrial base personnel into account as they prioritize their allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses, especially as the vaccine become widely available across the United States.” This memorandum should be used by Defense resale contractors in their interactions with the states to promote vaccination of their workforces in the most expedient manner possible.

Yokota and Yokosuka move to Phase II of the vaccine administration. They now will be immunizing service members deploying in the next three months and patients age 65 and older facing added risk from the coronavirus, according to a base spokesman. Phase one personnel, including emergency medical providers, first responders and security forces, are still eligible.

DeCA leadership intent on revitalizing the benefit as ALA ramps-up industry support. DeCA Director Bill Moore and his leadership team have huddled for months white boarding the Agency’s approach to offering the commissary benefit and they have emerged with a game plan to boost business. And ALA is mobilizing to help bring the power of the resale industry to the cause. … READ MORE

 

PENTAGON AND MILITARY NEWS

Pentagon begins process to purge confederate names from military bases, property

Military.com

The Pentagon is moving forward to satisfy a congressional directive in the 2021 defense policy bill that will result in the renaming of at least 10 Army bases and possibly two Navy ships that honor the Confederacy. READ MORE

 

House chairman: Biden Pentagon pick ‘shares my commitment to civilian control of the military’

The Hill

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) gave his full backing to President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be Defense secretary, saying an “extensive conversation” reassured him. The House normally has no say in nominees, which are confirmed by the Senate. READ MORE

 

PRODUCT SHOWCASE

Bisek & Company, Inc. Military Resale Distributing Agent and Broker

Understands how important the benefit of the Commissary and Exchange is to the active duty and retired military service personnel. We will work with a manufacturer to bring their variety of products to this unique market. Bisek & Company’s sales team is dedicated to doing what it takes to keep those special shoppers coming back to the Commissaries and Exchanges. Contact Bisek & Company so we may help you better understand what it takes to succeed in expanding your role in this very special benefit. Contact Brooks Wotring (brooks@bisek.com) or Laurie Cust (laurie@bisek.com). LEARN MORE

 

Norquist issues guidance on breakup of CMO office

Defense News

With the Pentagon’s chief management officer role officially disestablished by Congress, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist has issued guidance on where the authorities and personnel associated with that office will go. While the CMO team “attempted to make the best use of the structure that Congress gave them,” ultimately Congress concluded a new approach was needed, Norquist told a small group of reporters in a Monday call. READ MORE

 

Did your state receive the most defense dollars? We’ve got the numbers.

Defense News

California topped the list of states receiving defense dollars in 2019, a period in which overall Pentagon contracts and payroll spending in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., totaled $550.9 billion, the Department of Defense revealed Wednesday. READ MORE

 

Spouses: Help researchers delve into long-term effects of military life

Military Times

Military spouses: watch your mail. You may be among those invited to participate in the next round of a unique long-term study of the effects of military life on career, stress, well-being, health and adjustment. The invitations to participate in the DoD Millennium Cohort Family Study are coming this month by mail, from Department of Defense addresses. READ MORE

 

INDUSTRY NEWS 

7-Eleven wants Americans to love it as much as the Japanese do

Marker

Let’s get something out of the way: You probably do not have the most positive memories of 7-Eleven. The weary-looking hot dogs and taquitos on mechanical rollers, the trauma of Slurpee brain freezes and parking lot heartbreaks past, the strange prominence of its stores in local crime stories. In many parts, 7-Eleven is practically shorthand for communal microwaves, American Spirits and bland corporate sameness. Now, despite its reputation, 7-Eleven and the convenience store world are undergoing a major recalibration brought on by the unexpected arrival and staying power of Covid-19. READ MORE

 

Grocers step in to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The Wall Street Journal

Federal and state officials are tapping regional and supermarket-based pharmacies to help speed up administration of Covid-19 vaccines amid a slower-than-planned rollout. Rite Aid Corp., Kroger Co. , Stop & Shop Supermarket LLC and other retailers are being asked to step in and provide inoculations to front-line workers and other vulnerable people. While the timeline is weeks earlier than planned, companies say they hope to test and troubleshoot protocols before distributing vaccines to the masses. READ MORE

 

MULTIBRIEFS EXCLUSIVE

The tricks online retailers use to promote impulse shopping

By Gail Short

For online retailers, the goal is not only to get customers to buy. It is getting them to buy more, even on impulse. “Impulse shopping involves making unplanned purchases with little deliberation that’s typically associated with feelings of guilt or regret afterward,” says Sarita Schoenebeck, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. For many Americans, impulse shopping is pretty common, according to a recent survey by the research firm DAC. The survey shows that 88% of Americans admit to impulse buying, spending about $81 on average every time they shop. READ MORE

 

MILITARY AND RESALE NEWS 

Commissaries keep safety No. 1 focus during COVID-19 outbreak as stores enter a new year

DVIDS

Out with 2020 and in with 2021. Although the year has changed, the Defense Commissary Agency’s responsibility to deliver the commissary benefit safely during the COVID-19 pandemic has not. “Be assured, at all of our commissary locations worldwide, we are following CDC and DOD guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO. On March 25, DeCA’s stores, central distribution centers and its central meat processing plant were designated mission-critical in DOD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. READ MORE

 

Future of benefit: Commissaries set vision, refocus mission to be military’s ‘grocer of choice’ for 2021 and beyond

DVIDS

Defense Commissary Agency leadership came together Dec. 2-3, to create a new vision for the agency and refine the mission and direction for 2021 and beyond. Looking forward to the future and using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the new vision will embrace ways to better serve the military community in line with Department of Defense direction. READ MORE

 

DoD drops plan to give exchange shopping benefits to more than a half million DoD civilians

Military Times

A proposal to give military exchange shopping privileges to more than a half million Department of Defense civilians is dead, according to defense officials. “DoD is not pursuing military exchange access for DoD civilian employees at this time,” said DoD spokeswoman Lisa Lawrence, in response to a question from Military Times. READ MORE

 

Exchange’s military-exclusive ‘Chief Chat’ continues to bring military community together in 2021

DVIDS

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is extending its popular “Chief Chat” Facebook live series into 2021, giving the military community exclusive access to military leaders, war heroes, Hollywood A-listers, athletes, musicians and more. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor, hosts the live chats at Facebook.com/shopmyexchange to boost morale for Soldiers and Airmen. READ MORE

 

Local Exchange employees save lives, receive honors

Army.mil

Two Army & Air Force Exchange Service employees were recognized today for their heroism and quick thinking, which saved the lives of two individuals in separate incidents. Gidget Rivera and Daniel Fox were presented with commander’s coins and certificates from the Garrison Commander, Col. Jarrod Moreland, and Exchange General Manager, Jeff Hyatt, to acknowledge their customer care and heroism. READ MORE

 

Army & Air Force Exchange Service celebrates first year of patronage expansion to disabled veterans

Army.mil

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is celebrating the first anniversary of welcoming home 4.1 million service-connected disabled Veterans to their lifelong, in-store shopping benefit. The new privilege, which launched Jan. 1, 2020, was specified in the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018, included in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. READ MORE

From the desk of the ALA President

Quotes of note

“We have encouraged the states to take the important national security contributions of defense industrial base personnel into account as they prioritize their allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses, especially as the vaccine become widely available across the United States.”  Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord in a January 7, 2021 memorandum for the Defense Industrial Base.

“DoD civilians should be allowed access to on-base retail commissary and exchange stores.    Civilians work side-by-side with their military counterparts, making huge contributions in service to the Nation.    For exchanges, civilian patronage would increase contributions to vital on-base MWR programs that have suffered huge financial losses due to loss of traffic during the pandemic.   The pandemic has been a tough time for exchanges and MWR programs.  The House of Representatives recognized the pandemic-related plight of the exchanges and MWR programs and included $1.4 billion in the HEROES Bill that they passed earlier this year and is now up for re-consideration in the new Congress.  And the Pentagon moved to provide nearly $200 million from the CARES Act that passed earlier this year to relieve pandemic stress on exchanges and MWR programs.  The stores have sufficient capacity and would provide a great convenience and source of vital products for this DoD civilians, especially critical during the pandemic.  Nearly 300,000 of the 800,000 or so DoD civilian workers already have the benefits by virtue of their military affiliation… and, overseas, civilians are authorized to patronize the stores.  Over the years, the Congress and various Administrations have seen fit to expand access to the stores by more groups, including most recently in the FY 2021 Defense bill that allows protective service workers on base to access these benefits.  And, last year, nearly 3.5 million disabled veterans were allowed to access on-base exchanges and commissaries.  These expansions of eligibility were in recognition of service to the Nation and DoD civilians deserve nothing less.  Also, the Department of Homeland Security has seen fit to provide DHS civilian employee access to Coast Guard exchanges in recognition of their service.”  Steve Rossetti, President of the American Logistics Association in a press statement reacting to DoD’s decision not to move forward at this time DoD civilians’ access to exchanges. 

“Our mission statement and vision were outdated compared to where the industry is going and where our agency needs to go, so we got together as leaders and developed a better focus that takes us into 2021 and beyond, and also leverages advancements in delivering the benefit.” DeCA Director Bill Moore on DeCA’s strategic plan overhaul.

“For those of us who are political, we’re stepping onto a relay track, and when we’re part of a team, and somebody runs behind you and hands you the baton and then you get on the track and you run. But you know, at the end of the day you’re going to hand it to somebody else,” “And you need to hand it off in a way that is effective and coherent.”  Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist on the transition of the DoD from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration.

“We are supercharging our digital and omnichannel offerings to serve customers however they want, whenever they want.”  Albertson’s, executive vice president and chief customer and digital officer Chris Rupp.

Vaccine distribution to the Defense industry.  Since early Spring, the ALA has been working as part of joint DoD and industry task force to identify and solve pandemic issues.  The effort was initiated by Ellen Lord, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.  Secretary Lord issued a memorandum (link below) that calls on “states to take the important national security contributions of defense industrial base personnel into account as they prioritize their allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses, especially as the vaccine become widely available across the United States.”  This memorandum should be used by Defense resale contractors in their interactions with the states to promote vaccination of their workforces in the most expedient manner possible.

https://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/pacc/cc/docs/covid-19/DoD%20COVID-19%20Vaccine%20Allocation%20and%20Distribution%20Policy%20-%207%20Jan%202021.pdf

Yokota and Yokosuka move to Phase II of the vaccine administration.  They now will be immunizing service members deploying in the next three months and patients age 65 and older facing added risk from the coronavirus, according to a base spokesman.  Phase one personnel, including emergency medical providers, first responders and security forces, are still eligible.

DeCA leadership intent on revitalizing the benefit as ALA ramps-up industry support.  DeCA Director Bill Moore and his leadership team have huddled for months white boarding the Agency’s approach to offering the commissary benefit and they have emerged with a game plan to boost business.  And ALA is mobilizing to help bring the power of the resale industry to the cause.

And that path forward is coming together quickly.  A press announcement earlier this week by DeCA charted their strategic course.

Meanwhile, ALA industry members have been accelerating involvement with the various DeCA divisions and leadership to examine every area where DeCA/industry processes can be improved, and patron participation increased.  The ALA Board of Directors led by Chairman Michael Sleighter (Advantage Military) and its Commissary Council committees are ramping up their engagement across-the-board including a session today on Sales plans for the coming three months.  ALA member companies have engaged with DeCA leadership in nearly 15 sessions to chart a path forward.   ALA is committed to collaborating and partnering with DeCA to help them attain their goals.

Last week, the ALA Commissary Council led by Alex Sizemore with EURPAC held a session with the DeCA leadership that hit on several Council/DeCA issue areas and initiatives (briefing slides attached to this email):

  • EBS planning and roll-out
  • Joint business planning
  • Store operations
  • Resets and plan-o-grams
  • Pricing and promotions
  • Patron engagement and e-commerce

Bill Moore, DeCA director and chief executive officer (CEO) announced that: “Moving forward, and using what we have learned, we will work with our industry partners to ensure we have a steady distribution of product and the personnel available to get these items on the shelves, meeting the needs of our deserving patrons in more convenient ways.”  Moore said the commissary mission statement has been updated to “deliver a vital benefit of the military pay system that provides grocery items at a significant savings in order to enhance quality of life and readiness.”

DeCA’s new vision is “to be the grocery provider of choice for eligible patrons, delivering a vital benefit exclusively for the military community and their families.”   To achieve this vision, the agency established priority focus areas for improving the way it delivers the benefit.   Some of those areas include the following:

  • Increasing sales, as DeCA says it owes it to its customers to deliver an efficient and effective commissary shopping experience
  • Expanding patronage by educating and conducting outreach events to get more of the newest eligible patrons — first term troops and younger service members along with disabled veterans — into the stores
  • Valuing customer feedback by responding to comments provided on the annual Commissary Customer Service Survey (CCSS) and ForeSee customer feedback tool to determine what attracts and maintains new customers
  • Adding e-commerce options such as expanding CLICK2GO curbside service to more locations and accepting online payments are among the ways DeCA is looking to make shopping more convenient
  • Improving the supply chain by increasing DeCA’s order fill rates and bettering the agency’s relationship with its suppliers and distributors to ensure commissary customers have what they want, when they want it

“Overall, our overriding goal for 2021 and beyond is to ensure every eligible patron has the opportunity to enjoy the benefit,” Moore said. “This goal will be the basis of our corporate push to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our commissary operations.

“We will lean forward to achieve our future goals, while ensuring an agency culture, focused on our deserving patrons,” he noted.

Senate Armed Services Committee transitioning.  The Senate defense oversight committee is transitioning after the Georgia run-off election and the upcoming elevation of Senator Kamala Harris to President of the Senate by virtue of being Vice President.  The committee is reorganizing with Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to take the chairmanship.  Reed and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) are negotiating the organization of the committee with will mean a more active minority staff and with more rights, equal budgets and close staff working relationships.   The organization will come quickly as the committee has a full agenda with military nominations, civilian Pentagon nominations and posture hearings for the Biden 2022 budget request.

Senate Appropriations Committee leadership change?  Word in D.C. is that the Senate Appropriations Committee would likely be led by Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who would take over for Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL). However, who will lead the powerful defense subcommittee, which oversees the Pentagon budget, remains unclear as the senior Democrat there, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), has given up his role on the panel so he could either chair or be ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.  Defense spending is expected to remain flat under a Biden administration and Democratic control of Congress, thus adhering to projections set by the Trump White House.

Defense reorganizes its reform efforts.  Military resale reform efforts and partial oversight of DeCA as a Defense Agency have been centralized under the Chief Management Officer.  Now, Congress and the DoD have moved to diffuse the CMO responsibilities.  In memoranda signed Monday by David Norquist, the deputy Defense secretary, the Pentagon announced the changes.   Among the changes:

  • Strengthening of the DoD comptroller’s office, which will now be in charge of not just financial matters, but also business process improvements across the department. T
  • The comptroller will serve as DoD’s performance improvement officer and take the lead on the department’s compliance with the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA).
  • Creates policies for and overseeing the department’s working capital funds and setting requirements for DoD’s business IT systems.
  • Boosts the stature of a Pentagon organization that normally stays well out of the limelight: The office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation. CAPE now has additional responsibilities to create guidance for how the military services will design their forces and will receive a still-unspecified amount of extra “capacity” to conduct independent analyses on force development and readiness.
  • The comptroller and CAPE will take on new oversight functions over the “fourth estate” — the Defense agencies outside the military services had been overseen largely by the CMO over the past year. They’re charged with taking a “portfolio” approach to those agencies when they issue fiscal guidance, grouping them into areas such as research and engineering, intelligence and surveillance, and compensation.
  • The [comptroller] will ensure that business-oriented defense agencies and DoD field activities (e.g., Defense Logistics Agency and Defense Finance and Accounting Service) provide the necessary business performance detail in the submission.”
  • CAPE will ensure that mission-oriented and capital-intensive DAFAs (e.g., Missile Defense Agency and National Security Agency) provide the necessary mission effectiveness detail in the submission.
  • Abolishes the department’s Reform Management Group, a business system oversight board that the Government Accountability Office has criticized for gaps in leadership and a lack of clarity in its mission. Its functions will be absorbed into the existing Defense Business Council, which will be co-chaired by DoD’s chief information officer and the comptroller.
  • Reallocated some of the functions of two of those sub-units: Oversight & Compliance and Administration and Organizational Policy.
  • Re-creating two offices that had been consolidated into the CMO and its predecessor, the office of the deputy chief management officer: The director of Administration and Management (DA&M) and the assistant to the secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight.
  • The DA&M will take back control of Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), the office known colloquially as the “mayor” of the Pentagon, and which oversees the building’s physical plant, security, and other real estate in the National Capital Region. Tom Muir, the current WHS director, will serve as the interim DA&M.
  • The new office is tasked with standing up a working group to reallocate any of the CMO functions that aren’t explicitly addressed by Norquist’s memos. Those responsibilities also include sorting out the details of which former CMO personnel will work for what particular organization going forward, and how the former office’s resources will be redistributed throughout the Pentagon.

DoD releases report on Defense Spending by state. 

The top states:

  • California: $66.2 billion
  • Virginia: $60.3 billion
  • Texas: $54.8 billion
  • Florida: $29.8 billion
  • Maryland: $26.1 billion
  • Connecticut: $19.7 billion
  • Pennsylvania: $18.1 billion
  • Washington: $17.8 billion
  • Alabama: $16.0 billion
  • Massachusetts: $15.8 billion

The complete report is here:

https://oea.gov/defense-spending-state-fiscal-year-2019

 

Contactless grocery pickup.  Albertsons, owner of the Jewel-Osco and Safeway chains, is experimenting with chilled kiosks to allow customers to pick up their groceries without human contact.  The company says it is “supercharging our digital and omni channel offerings to serve customers however and whenever they want.”:   To retrieve their orders at the PickUp Kiosk, customers scan a code on their smartphone, and their groceries are robotically delivered to a clear door at the front of the unit.  Identical stores sales increased 12.3 percent year to year December.     Digital sales more than tripled and Albertsons said it has accelerated its rollout of pickup services. It now offers pickup in 1,181 locations out of 2,253 stores. To use the kiosk, Jewel-Osco online grocery customers choose the “Kiosk PickUp” option at checkout and selected a two-hour time slot to pick up their order. Upon arriving at the kiosk, they scan a code on their smartphone, and their groceries are robotically delivered to a clear door at the front of the unit for retrieval. The station features two temperature zones — regular and a deep freeze — and customer orders, made via the retailer’s e-grocery website or mobile app, can be stored in two different zones and still be delivered in the same console for pickup.  Pickup is a linchpin of Albertsons’ online grocery expansion. The retailer now has around 1,400 curbside pickup sites overall across its base of nearly 2,300 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia, and it aims to have at least 1,800 click-and-collection locations by the end of fiscal 2021. Digital sales, including home delivery, jumped 243% in Albertsons fiscal 2020 second quarter ended in September, following a 276% gain in the first quarter.

ALA Chapter emphasis.  ALA chapters work at military hubs around the globe supporting regional needs of resale agencies and supporting a wide range of worthy military family and veteran causes.  ALA is undertaking several initiatives to boost chapters, representing a major effort by Chairman Michael Sleighter and the Board of Directors to incorporate chapters into the ALA mainstream policy and communications frame work.  The Chapter handbook which serves as a guide for chapter operations is being updated and will be distributed this month.  The ALA communications platform is being designed to enable communications within chapters.  The Chapter of Excellence Award competition will be announced later this month.  And, ALA staffer Sharon Zambo-Fan will be coalescing all of the chapter efforts, the first time that chapter initiatives will have dedicated ALA staff support.

Grocers jumping in on vaccine delivery.  Food retailers are hiring thousands of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, expanding scheduling services and securing equipment such as freezers ahead of the mass vaccination. As the initial wave of vaccinations has proceeded more slowly than anticipated slowly, many grocers are being tapped by state and federal officials to step in earlier than planned to provide inoculations.

Walmart plans “smart box”.  Customers will be able to receive deliveries from their local Walmart store in a HomeValet temperature-controlled box situated outside their home. The unit’s IoT platform has three temperature zones for storage of frozen, refrigerated and pantry items. At the point of delivery, the box communicates with the courier’s mobile device to provide access and complete fulfillment of the order.  The Smart Box works with a dedicated mobile app that lets customers shop for groceries, track the delivery of their order and adjust temperature settings, which change automatically before the delivery is made. Users also can control permissions for access, such as family members and neighbors; secure their box remotely; and receive notifications for deliveries and unauthorized access, as well as temperature alerts.  The box is powered by a standard 110-volt outlet and includes a backup battery that allows it to function without cooling capabilities for up to 36 hours, according to the company.   Besides offering a contactless, more convenient experience for customers, the Smart Box enables couriers to deliver on the first attempt every time, eliminate in-person signatures and implement more flexible scheduling,

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that the new headquarters of U.S. Space Command will be headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.  The headquarters will bring approximately 1,400 positions to the state.

Healing Heroes Network settlement.  A coalition of 11 states, today announced a settlement with Healing Heroes Network, Inc. (Healing Heroes), a Florida-based veterans’ charity.

“Healing Heroes Network took advantage of donors seeking to help our wounded veterans receive the medical care they need,” Raoul said. “Today’s settlement holds these individuals accountable for violating donors’ trust and depriving veterans of financial support by preventing them from attempting to raise charitable funds in the future.”

The states alleged that between 2014 and 2018, Healing Heroes sought donations to help veterans wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatments that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs did not readily provide. Potential donors were told that 100 percent of the proceeds from telephone solicitations and sweepstakes mailers would benefit wounded veterans; however, the states’ investigation revealed that few of the contributions Healing Heroes received actually went toward assisting wounded veterans. Instead, donations were used to pay professional fundraisers, online advertising fees, and the salaries of Stacey Spiegel and her son, Neal. Donations were also used to purchase t-shirts from a Spiegel family member’s business.   The settlement requires Healing Heroes Network and Hero Giveaways to permanently cease any kind of charitable solicitations. Using remaining funds, Stacey Spiegel, Allan Spiegel and Neal Spiegel have agreed to make a payment that will be directed to a veterans’ charity whose mission matches the representations made by Healing Heroes Network. In addition, the Spiegels also are subject to a five-year ban from overseeing, managing or soliciting charitable contributions for any nonprofit organization.   The settlement wraps up a multistate action that was initiated as part of Operation Donate with Honor, a nationwide consumer protection law enforcement sweep to combat veterans’ fundraising fraud through education and enforcement. Operation Donate with Honor was coordinated in 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of State Charities Officials to target fraudulent charities affecting veterans and groups that claimed to use their donations to help America’s veterans, but were designed to enrich the charities’ founders and professional fundraisers.

CVS vaccine administration.  CVS Health Corp. says it expects to eventually administer up to 25 million vaccines a month across the country.  “We are ready in our CVS pharmacies to administer the vaccine,” Karen S. Lynch, who will take over on Feb. 1 as the health care giant’s chief executive, said. “We have over 90,000 clinicians, through our pharmacists, through our pharmacy techs, through our nurses and nurse practitioners to administer the vaccine.”  CVS has developed a digital app for scheduling appointments.  In October, CVS said it was launching an effort to hire 15,000 nationwide to respond to the double hit of the seasonal flu and COVID-19 pandemic. More than 10,000 of those positions were for full- and part-time pharmacy technicians, who assist pharmacists.  In 2020, CVS Health opened 600 HealthHUBs in CVS pharmacies across the country, Lynch said. HealthHUBs are staffed with nurses and other medical professionals that can provide services between doctor visits and eliminate trips to the emergency room. HealthHUBs also are expected to play an increasing role in telehealth visits.

Double taxation for military and contractors in Germany. Stars and Stripes reports that a key German lawmaker says it is “legally problematic” for local authorities to levy tax bills on U.S. forces and that Berlin must end double income taxation, which has financially devastated some military families.  “I do not see double taxation as justified and it is also legally problematic,” said Schaefer, who serves on the federal parliament’s defense committee.  Hundreds of troops, Defense Department civilians and contractors — all working in Germany under an international treaty designed, in part, to exempt military income from local taxes — have been targeted by local finance offices in recent months. At issue is a dispute over how to interpret the status of forces agreement, which outlines the rules for U.S. forces deployed in Germany.

Exchange privilege expansion on ice. The “DoD is not pursuing military exchange access for DoD civilian employees at this time,” said DoD spokeswoman Lisa Lawrence, in response to a question from Military Times.   The DoD had earlier indicated that the privilege was forthcoming.  It was estimated that the policy change would have resulted in $287 million in sales increases and nearly $50 million in increased exchange earnings.   ALA issued a statement in response to press inquiries that is in the Quotes of Note section above.

AAFES continues to deliver, this time with a popular troop favorite.  Popeyes’ crispy chicken sandwich, which started a food fight when it was launched in the U.S. around 18 months ago, is finally expected to be available in Europe, a spokesman for base exchanges said.  The sandwich will be available by the end of this month in Ansbach, Aviano, Baumholder, Grafenwoehr, at Panzer Kaserne in Boeblingen near Stuttgart, Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases, Vilseck and Wiesbaden, Chris Ward, a spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, told Stars and Stripes.

In no surprise, holiday online sales smash records.  $188.2 billion in U.S. online purchases, which represents more than 32% growth from the year before.  For the first time, every day of the holiday shopping season exceeded $1 billion in online sales, fulfilling expectations that the coronavirus pandemic would push consumers to spend a record amount of holiday items from the safety of their homes.  During the holidays, groceries, appliances and books saw major spending boosts compared to more incremental jumps for toys and jewelry.  Smartphones were an important way for consumers to shop with phones accounted for 40% of the holiday season’s online growth compared to 11% growth year-over-year, according to Adobe.  For the first time ever, more than half of daily online spend on Christmas Day came from smartphones.

Every wonder how an MRE is born?  Check out this video.

https://www.militarytimes.com/video/2021/01/11/how-an-mre-is-born-part-1/

US Foods Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, has been awarded a maximum $377,791,948 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment, indefinite-quantity contract for full-line food distribution.  This was a competitive acquisition with two responses received.  This is a two-year base contract with one one-year option period and one two-year option period.  Locations of performance are Virginia and North Carolina, with a Jan. 7, 2023, ordering period end date.  Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.  Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2023 defense working capital funds.  The contracting agency is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE300-21-D-3313).

GSA is overhauling its contracting processes.  GSA wrote in a fact sheet  the next generation services IDIQ will seek to combine features such as unpriced master contracts, small business set asides, vetted and open enrollment with all order types including firm fixed price, cost-type, time and materials and hybrids into one centrally managed, user friendly structure.

Beer Demand Leaps, Led by Home Buying.  Constellation Brands Inc. reported a 22% increase in sales, boosted by at-home customers buying more of its Corona and Modelo beer brands.  Total sales rose to $2.44 billion from $2 billion, while sales in its beer business grew by 28%. The company said the strong performance in sales to at-home customers more than offset the weakness seen in sales to restaurants and bars.

Amazon’s Prime Pantry delivery service is no more.   Amazon Prime Pantry, the e-commerce giant’s early foray into grocery delivery, is dead.    The company launched Prime Pantry for household items and non-perishable food and snacks back in 2014, giving customers a way to stock up on the heavy items they need for their homes that don’t usually ship for free. Now, it’s gone, shut down for good by Amazon on Wednesday.  The thousands of products previously available under the Pantry banner have been folded into Amazon’s main retail site.

ALA/DeCA Commissary Council briefing slides (mentioned above) are here:

Commissary Council Objectives 2021 01.06.2021

Best regards,

Stephen Rossetti

President

 

 

From the desk of the ALA President/Washington Update 1/8

From the desk of the ALA President

Democrats on way to taking Senate control. Control of the U.S. Senate is on the way to shifting to the Democrats. All committee and subcommittee chairs will shift to the Democrats. Normally negotiations between parties over committee sizes and ratios, action of committee assignments begin in November after the election. Because of the need for a run-off election in Georgia that took place on January 5, this organization was delayed. Congress officially convened on January 3 with the Republicans in control. While they are in the majority and control the agenda and legislative pace, they do not have the 60 votes needed to pass legislation. That is, unless, as threatened, they change the rules to eliminate the filibuster in which case they only need a simple majority. Committee assignment resolutions are considered in late January and committee funding resolutions are considered in February. Senators are already bidding for which committees they want to belong.

Democrats now will control the confirmation process for Pentagon picks with a series of quick nomination hearings to begin after the inauguration of President-elect Biden.

For resale programs, the key committees are Armed Services, which sets policy and multi-year funding levels for DoD, the Defense Appropriations Committees which allocate annual funding for DoD. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) will relinquish his Chairmanship of the committee to Jack Reed (D-R.I.). Resale program jurisdiction on the SASC falls under the Personnel Subcommittee. This Subcommittee was chaired by Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), but the chairmanship will shift to the Democrats and the current Ranking Member of the Subcommittee is Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). For Appropriations, the Chairmanship of the Defense Subcommittee will probably shift to the current ranking member, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) from Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Committee staff ratios also shift with the Democrats having more control over staff positions. It’s unclear as to the practical effect the shift will have on resale programs. Senator Jim Inhofe resisted efforts at privatizing commissaries and has consistently supported full funding or commissary budgets. And, while Democrats are generally supportive of funding for military family programs, there will be pressure on the overall Defense spending levels as progressives in the party argue for more domestic spending at the expense of defense spending.

The Senate Veterans Affairs committee chair will probably shift to the Ranking member John Tester (D-MT) and the Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is in line to replace Ron Johnson, (R-Wisc.) as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee which has jurisdiction over the CGX.

House of Representatives transition. Because leadership of the House did not change hands, they are further along in organizing for the next session of Congress. For the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will retain the Chair and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) has been approved to be Ranking Member of the Committee, replacing Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) who has retired from Congress. The Committee is still organizing but it appears the Jackie Speier (D-Calif) will be Chairman and Trent Kelly (R-Miss) will be ranking member. Three democrats were appointed to the committee including Joe Morelle (D-NY) and newly elected members Rai Kahele (D-Hawaii), and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif).

Pentagon transition taking shape. The Biden team has announced … READ MORE

 

Product Showcase

Bisek & Company, Inc. Military Resale Distributing Agent and Broker

Understands how important the benefit of the Commissary and Exchange is to the active duty and retired military service personnel. We will work with a manufacturer to bring their variety of products to this unique market. Bisek & Company’s sales team is dedicated to doing what it takes to keep those special shoppers coming back to the Commissaries and Exchanges. Contact Bisek & Company so we may help you better understand what it takes to succeed in expanding your role in this very special benefit. Contact Brooks Wotring (brooks@bisek.com) or Laurie Cust (laurie@bisek.com).

 

PENTAGON AND MILITARY NEWS

New in 2021: Confirmation timing for new DoD, VA secretaries could be tricky

Military Times

President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks to lead the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in early December. When they’ll actually be confirmed into those roles is still unclear. But the uncertainty over control of the Senate has pushed some of that confirmation work back by several weeks. Instead of combing through the candidates’ resumes, Senate leaders are still wondering who will control the chamber in the 117th Congress, with two Georgia seats to be decided in a Jan. 5 runoff.  READ MORE

 

Biden selects Hicks, Kahl for top Pentagon roles

Defense News

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to tap Kathleen Hicks as deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as the undersecretary of defense for policy, bringing in two experienced hands to guide the Pentagon under the defense secretary nominee, Lloyd Austin. READ MORE

 

New in 2021: More companies commit to hiring military spouses

Military Times

As so many military spouses struggle to maintain a meaningful career amidst repeated moves, defense and service officials and private organizations have attacked the decades-old problem of spouse unemployment from various sides. READ MORE

 

New in 2021: Confirmation timing for new DoD, VA secretaries could be tricky

Military Times

President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks to lead the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs in early December. When they’ll actually be confirmed into those roles is still unclear. But the uncertainty over control of the Senate has pushed some of that confirmation work back by several weeks. Instead of combing through the candidates’ resumes, Senate leaders are still wondering who will control the chamber in the 117th Congress, with two Georgia seats to be decided in a Jan. 5 runoff. READ MORE

 

Biden selects Hicks, Kahl for top Pentagon roles

Defense News

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to tap Kathleen Hicks as deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as the undersecretary of defense for policy, bringing in two experienced hands to guide the Pentagon under the defense secretary nominee, Lloyd Austin. READ MORE

 

New in 2021: More companies commit to hiring military spouses

Military Times

As so many military spouses struggle to maintain a meaningful career amidst repeated moves, defense and service officials and private organizations have attacked the decades-old problem of spouse unemployment from various sides. READ MORE

 

Pentagon reinstates military travel restrictions amid vaccine rollout

UPI

The majority of military installations have reinstated travel restrictions as COVID-19 case counts spike among military members and the federal government continues its rollout of the vaccine. According to a Pentagon document published this week, 59 of 62 naval bases had travel restrictions reinstated, and 140 of 231 U.S. military installations around the world — or 71% — were under some form of restriction. READ MORE

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Amazon Halo fitness tracker, which measures body fat and listens to you, launches for everyone

CNBC

Amazon’s health and fitness tracker is now available for anyone to purchase. The Halo band costs $99.99, provides access to the Halo app and comes with a six-month subscription to accompanying health services. Amazon launched the device in August, but it was only available to consumers on an invitation-only basis. READ MORE

 

Amazon Halo fitness tracker, which measures body fat and listens to you, launches for everyone

CNBC

Amazon’s health and fitness tracker is now available for anyone to purchase. The Halo band costs $99.99, provides access to the Halo app and comes with a six-month subscription to accompanying health services. Amazon launched the device in August, but it was only available to consumers on an invitation-only basis. READ MORE

 

Walgreens to hire 25,000 as part of plan to start giving COVID-19 vaccine

Chicago Tribune

Walgreens expects to receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 21 and plans to inoculate nursing home residents and workers at more than 30,000 long-term care facilities nationwide. Deerfield-based Walgreens plans to hire about 25,000 people across the U.S., including up to 9,000 pharmacists and other healthcare workers, to administer the vaccine. Once the vaccine is approved, Walgreens will administer it to long-term care facilities through a partnership with pharmacy service provider PharMerica, the companies said during a panel discussion Friday on the vaccine rollout. READ MORE

 

MILITARY AND RESALE NEWS

Healthy savings: Want to spend less on nutritious foods while you start your new year’s resolution to be healthier? Try your commissary

DVIDS

Family Fit Lifestyle Month in January highlights nutrition and the benefits of exercising. And the commissary is there to help service members and their families achieve their fitness goals without flexing their budgets. “Regardless of what you didn’t do in 2020, you can always start a healthy lifestyle in 2021which includes a consistent fitness plan and nutritious meals,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, the Defense Commissary Agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director. READ MORE

 

New in 2021: Curbside pickup coming to more commissaries

Air Force Times

One thing the pandemic has shown officials at the Defense Commissary Agency: customers want the Click 2 Go service at their commissary, allowing them to order their groceries online and pick them up at curbside. Officials had been slowly rolling out the service before the pandemic, and have now increased it to 10 stores, with another scheduled to start Jan. 4 at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Florida. More stores are scheduled in 2021 as the agency continues its technology rollout at stores to enable the Click 2 Go. READ MORE

 

2 Army veterans open Hawaiian BBQ restaurant in downtown Waco

Waco Tribune

It was 2003, and U.S. Army buddies Fred Ballard and Raymond Garrison were hunkered down in Baghdad, Iraq, mortar fire making their lives miserable. “It was a dangerous job,” said Ballard, 47, a Waxahachie native who, though otherwise sharp, retired from the military with a 100% disability rating because of hearing loss. Improvised explosive devices were an occupational hazard during his multiple Middle East tours, one explosion bursting his eardrums. READ MORE

 

Healthy savings: Want to spend less on nutritious foods while you start your new year’s resolution to be healthier? Try your commissary

DVIDS

Family Fit Lifestyle Month in January highlights nutrition and the benefits of exercising. And the commissary is there to help service members and their families achieve their fitness goals without flexing their budgets. “Regardless of what you didn’t do in 2020, you can always start a healthy lifestyle in 2021which includes a consistent fitness plan and nutritious meals,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, the Defense Commissary Agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director. READ MORE

 

New in 2021: Curbside pickup coming to more commissaries

Air Force Times

One thing the pandemic has shown officials at the Defense Commissary Agency: customers want the Click 2 Go service at their commissary, allowing them to order their groceries online and pick them up at curbside. Officials had been slowly rolling out the service before the pandemic, and have now increased it to 10 stores, with another scheduled to start Jan. 4 at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Florida. More stores are scheduled in 2021 as the agency continues its technology rollout at stores to enable the Click 2 Go. READ MORE

 

2 Army veterans open Hawaiian BBQ restaurant in downtown Waco

Waco Tribune

It was 2003, and U.S. Army buddies Fred Ballard and Raymond Garrison were hunkered down in Baghdad, Iraq, mortar fire making their lives miserable. “It was a dangerous job,” said Ballard, 47, a Waxahachie native who, though otherwise sharp, retired from the military with a 100% disability rating because of hearing loss. Improvised explosive devices were an occupational hazard during his multiple Middle East tours, one explosion bursting his eardrums. READ MORE

 

Matthew McConaughey featured on MCX Book Club for ‘Greenlights’

ALA

Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, author of “Greenlights”, will be featured in the second series of the “MCX Book Club: Cover to Cover” that premiered on Tuesday, December 22nd at 7 p.m. (EST) at www.facebook.com/MarineCorpsExchange. In this light-hearted, conversational style interview, McConaughey provides insight and reflections into his new book “Greenlights” as well as exploring his writing processes, discussing resiliency and discipline. McConaughey even reveals what’s next for him!

Written with candor, humor, and profound insight and humility, the uniquely McConaughey “Greenlights” is an unconventional portrait of an unconventional artist and a wise road map to navigate a life of more greenlights — one that recognizes that the red and yellow lights eventually turn green, too. In “Greenlights”, readers will learn about many of the adventures and formative moments in McConaughey’s life, and the sense of meaning he’s found through his philosophy of the same name. From growing up as an adventurous kid in a tough-love Texas home of rule breakers, to revelatory journeys to Australia, Peru, and Mali, to his early days in Hollywood and meteoric rise to fame, McConaughey shares how his life experiences have instilled in him the importance of competent values, the power of new experiences, and as he puts it, “either changing your reality or changing how you see it.”

“Greenlights” is on sale now at your local Marine Corps Exchange (MCX). The MCX has a limited number of copies with a signed bookplate at select locations.

About the Author: Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey is a married man, a father of three children, and a loyal son and brother. He considers himself a storyteller by occupation, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor. In 2019, McConaughey became a professor of practice at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Minister of Culture/M.O.C. for the University of Texas and the City of Austin. McConaughey is also brand ambassador for Lincoln Motor Company, an owner of the Major League Soccer club Austin FC, co-creator of Wild Turkey Longbranch and founder of the Just Keep Livin Foundation. LEARN MORE

DeCA Sets Vision To Be Military’s ‘Grocer of Choice’

Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka

DeCA Sets Vision To Be Military’s ‘Grocer of Choice’ • FORT LEE

On Dec. 2 and 3, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) leadership came together to create a new vision for the agency and refine the mission and direction for 2021 and beyond.

Looking forward to the future and using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said its new vision will embrace ways to better serve the military community in line with Department of Defense (DoD) direction.

DeCA has identified the need to improve its long-term revenue trend and, by implementing the new vision, it will be able to make the strategic changes required to sustain the slight increase in sales seen in 2020, primarily attributed to the pandemic-buying in March and April.

“2020 was a challenging year, and the pandemic reinforced the commissaries’ critical mission in delivering to our customers the essential items they wanted and needed,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and chief executive officer (CEO). “Moving forward, and using what we have learned, we will work with our industry partners to ensure we have a steady distribution of product and the personnel available to get these items on the shelves, meeting the needs of our deserving patrons in more convenient ways.”

MISSION STATEMENT

The commissaries’ updated mission statement is to “deliver a vital benefit of the military pay system that provides grocery items at a significant savings in order to enhance quality of life and readiness.”

This mission statement focuses on the agency delivering congressionally mandated annual patron savings of 23.7 percent or more, and DeCA leaders discussed several potential initiatives to ensure this savings goal is met.

“Our mission statement and vision were outdated compared to where the industry is going and where our agency needs to go, so we got together as leaders and developed a better focus that takes us into 2021 and beyond, and also leverages advancements in delivering the benefit,” Moore said.

DeCA’s new vision is “to be the grocery provider of choice for eligible patrons, delivering a vital benefit exclusively for the military community and their families.”

This vision reaffirms the agency’s commitment to superior customer service and providing the items patrons want and need at the best price, he added.

PRIORITY FOCUS AREAS

To achieve this vision, the agency established priority focus areas for improving the way it delivers the benefit.

Some of those areas include the following:

• Increasing sales, as DeCA saus it owes it to its customers to deliver an efficient and effective commissary shopping experience

• Expanding patronage by educating and conducting outreach events to get more of the newest eligible patrons — first term troops and younger service members along with disabled veterans — into the stores

• Valuing customer feedback by responding to comments provided on the annual Commissary Customer Service Survey (CCSS) and ForeSee customer feedback tool to determine what attracts and maintains new customers

• Adding e-commerce options such as expanding CLICK2GO curbside service to more locations and accepting online payments are among the ways DeCA is looking to make shopping more convenient

• Improving the supply chain by increasing DeCA’s order fill rates and bettering the agency’s relationship with its suppliers and distributors to ensure commissary customers have what they want, when they want it

Also, as part of this refocusing process, DeCA refined its values, emphasizing a greater focus on trust and treating all with dignity and respect.

OVERRIDING GOAL

“Overall, our overriding goal for 2021 and beyond is to ensure every eligible patron has the opportunity to enjoy the benefit,” Moore said. “This goal will be the basis of our corporate push to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our commissary operations.

“We will lean forward to achieve our future goals, while ensuring an agency culture, focused on our deserving patrons,” he noted.

Source: DeCA

Edited by Larry Lapka

Tiara Edwards loads groceries in the vehicle of a customer using the Fort Lee, Va., Commissary’s CLICK2GO online ordering.curbside delivery services, CLICK2GO is among the services that are a key part of DeCA’s future focus.

Photo: Rick Brink, DeCA

From the desk of the ALA President 1/7

Democrats on way to taking Senate control.  Control of the U.S. Senate is on the way to shifting to the Democrats.  All committee and subcommittee chairs will shift to the Democrats.  Normally negotiations between parties over committee sizes and ratios, action of committee assignments begin in November after the election.  Because of the need for a run-off election in Georgia that took place on January 5, this organization was delayed.  Congress officially convened on January 3 with the Republicans in control.  While they are in the majority and control the agenda and legislative pace, they do not have the 60 votes needed to pass legislation.  That is, unless, as threatened, they change the rules to eliminate the filibuster in which case they only need a simple majority.  Committee assignment resolutions are considered in late January and committee funding resolutions are considered in February.  Senators are already bidding for which committees they want to belong.

Democrats now will control the confirmation process for Pentagon picks with a series of quick nomination hearings to begin after the inauguration of President-elect Biden.

For resale programs, the key committees are Armed Services, which sets policy and multi-year funding levels for DoD, the Defense Appropriations Committees which allocate annual funding for DoD.  Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) will relinquish his Chairmanship of the committee to Jack Reed (D-R.I.).  Resale program jurisdiction on the SASC falls under the Personnel Subcommittee.  This Subcommittee was chaired by Tom Tillis (R-N.C.), but the chairmanship will shift to the Democrats and the current Ranking Member of the Subcommittee is Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).  For Appropriations, the Chairmanship of the Defense Subcommittee will probably shift to the current ranking member, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) from Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).  Committee staff ratios also shift with the Democrats having more control over staff positions.  It’s unclear as to the practical effect the shift will have on resale programs.  Senator Jim Inhofe resisted efforts at privatizing commissaries and has consistently supported full funding or commissary budgets.  And, while Democrats are generally supportive of funding for military family programs, there will be pressure on the overall Defense spending levels as progressives in the party argue for more domestic spending at the expense of defense spending.

The Senate Veterans Affairs committee chair will probably shift to the Ranking member John Tester (D-MT) and the Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is in line to replace Ron Johnson, (R-Wisc.) as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee which has jurisdiction over the CGX.

House of Representatives transition.  Because leadership of the House did not change hands, they are further along in organizing for the next session of Congress.  For the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will retain the Chair and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) has been approved to be Ranking Member of the Committee, replacing Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) who has retired from Congress.   The Committee is still organizing but it appears the Jackie Speier (D-Calif) will be Chairman and Trent Kelly (R-Miss) will be ranking member.   Three democrats were appointed to the committee including Joe Morelle (D-NY) and newly elected members Rai Kahele (D-Hawaii), and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif).

Pentagon transition taking shape.  The Biden team has announced General Lloyd Austin as their pick for Secretary of Defense.  Also announced is Kelly Magsamen as Austin’s Chief of Staff.   Magsamen is VP for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress and has held several positions in DoD.  This is the same organization that Neera Tanden currently runs.  Tanden is up for Biden’s Director of Office of Management and Budget.  She doesn’t have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Kathleen Hicks is being nominated for Deputy Secretary of Defense.  Hicks is currently at the Centers for Strategic and International Studies.  She is heading up Biden’s Defense transition team.  ALA has hosted a number of CSIS speakers at its meetings in recent years.  As Deputy Secretary, Hick will have management responsibilities for the DoD and be involved in funding and restructuring decisions affecting resale organizations.  This is especially significant with the elimination of the Chief Management Officer’s Position that is currently in the 2021 version of the National Defense Authorization Act.  The CMO office has been leading resale transformation efforts in the Pentagon.   She worked on the Commission for the National Defense Strategy that was set up in the 2017 Defense bill.

Dr. Colin Kahl is tapped to be the Pentagon’s Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.  He worked Defense issues for Biden when he was VP under Obama.  He won’t be involved with resale issues but will be involved in basing and troop stationing decisions.

Moore, Flannery and other DeCA chiefs January 6 meeting with ALA Commissary Council.   DeCA and industry is collaboration is accelerating as Alex Sizemore, ALA’s Commissary Council Chairman and Council Subcommittee leads met with the DeCA leadership on a wide range of issues aimed at boosting volume, improving stocks on shelves, and reshaping the category management processes.  The call included Director Moore, Jim Flannery, COO Mike Dowling, Store Operations Chief Rogers Campbell, Tracie Russ, Chris Burns, IT Director Theon Danet, Randy Eller, and Bonita Moffett.   A wide-ranging discussion took place with Council briefings to DeCA on:  EBS deployment and planning, joint business planning, store operations, store resets, pricing and promotions, patron engagement and e-commerce, and cross-resale promotions.  The Council effort is part of an increasing ALA and DeCA effort to more closely synchronize efforts across the board to boost the commissary benefit and air and resolve friction both in the patron shopping experience and in the supply chain.  

CMMC determinations in the works.  The DoD is examining the impact of the Cyber Security Maturity Model implementation and its effect on commissary and nonappropriated fund contractors.  ALA is working with OSD to clarify the application of the CMMC and will report developments as they take place.

Diversity training Executive Order implementation. While Biden is expected to eliminate or radically change an executive order issued in September by Trump, Agencies, including the Department of Defense, are moving forward on implementation.     Those requirements include incorporating language in all contracts that prohibits the types of divisive training outlined in the order for contract employees and removing “divisive concepts” from agency training, ensuring diversity training contracts meet the EO’s requirements.  Biden is expected to overturn the Executive Order requesting Agencies are required to evaluate whether to debar any contracts that violate the Order.

Vaccines for resale program contractors?  OSD working on a memo regarding vaccine allocations to the Defense Industrial Base contractors.  We will share as soon as it clears.

Grocers administering vaccines.  Grocery chains including Albertsons, N-E-B, and Walmart have started administering COVID-19 vaccines to high-priority recipients as the food-retailing industry gears up for a large-scale rollout of inoculations against the disease during the coming months, according to announcements from the companies.  The retailers are initially giving vaccines to people in Phase 1a of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s distribution plan, which limits the shots to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.  Grocery workers are among the “frontline essential workers” included in the next phase of the government inoculation plan, but it remains unclear when vaccinations will be made available to that segment of the population.

Amazon Air. Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday it bought 11 Boeing 767-300 aircraft, as it looks to quicken delivery with an expanded fleet.  The aircraft, including seven from Delta Air Lines and four from WestJet Airlines, will join Amazon’s air cargo network by 2022

Moore assures commissary shoppers on safety.    “Be assured, at all of our commissary locations worldwide, we are following CDC and DOD guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO. “These measures are particularly important to keep our employees and customers healthy as case numbers climb.”
On March 25, DeCA’s stores, central distribution centers and its central meat processing plant were designated mission-critical in DOD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the agency has not taken this responsibility lightly, Moore said.

“The entire DeCA team appreciates the tremendous responsibility of being one of your valued lifelines for support and understands the critical mission of delivering your commissary benefit,” he said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeCA has implemented the following measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus in commissaries:

* Commissaries conduct daily health screenings of anyone who works in commissaries – including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors – before they start their shifts

* Anyone (including customers) entering a store must wear a face covering

* Stores have clear plastic sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes

* Commissary personnel wipe down checkout areas, product display cases, restrooms and shopping carts with disinfectant, and practice routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures

* Touchless credit card processing eliminates the need for the customer to sign

* Customers scan their own ID cards so cashiers can provide them touchless transactions

* Reusable bag usage has been banned

* DeCA canceled special events such as the spring sidewalk sales, in-store product demonstrations (including DeCA’s free coffee program), group tours, vendor-sponsored events and other events to discourage group gatherings

* Commissaries are working with installation leadership and public health personnel to implement risk reduction practices specific to that base

To help give customers more cost-effective options for personal protective equipment, commissaries have added disposable and reusable masks and digital contactless thermometers to store inventories.  “I would like to send a profound ‘thank you’ to our customers on behalf of our DeCA employees worldwide,” Moore said. “We all would like you to know how much we appreciate your understanding, patience, and continued support throughout the coronavirus outbreak.”

Standard retires as DeCA Chief of Staff.  Teena Standard served at DeCA since its inception in 1991.  She is being replaced by Christopher Lyons, DeCA’s resale and government affairs advisor until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Tyndall experiments with commercial vehicle scanner.  A new x-ray scanner taking only two minutes to inspect an incoming commercial vehicle is in use at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., the U.S. Air Force announced. The first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, of the Air Force was deployed in mid-December and significantly reduced the time it takes to inspect a vehicle arriving with construction supplies. The base is being rebuilt after it was destroyed by a hurricane in 2018.

Labor agreement pending in Korea.  South Korea and the United States are negotiating a plan to share labor costs and avoid once more furloughing local employees of U.S. Forces Korea, a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said Monday, according to a Stars and Stripes article.   “South Korea and U.S. defense authorities are currently holding discussions for employment stability of Koreans working for USFK,” said Boo Seung-chan at a Monday ministry briefing.  Seoul and Washington have been at odds over President Donald Trump’s demand that South Korea substantially increase the amount it pays to host a U.S. military presence, a contract called the Special Measures Agreement. The previous agreement expired in December 2018.  In April, the U.S. government placed about 4,500 South Korean base employees, about half its local workforce, on unpaid leave for almost three months when the two countries failed to agree on a plan to divide the costs of their wages. The decision was a blow to the alliance and its military readiness to fight on the divided peninsula, commanders at USFK told Stars and Stripes in April.  The current negotiations aim to break that deadlock and prevent another furlough, according to a report Monday by the Yonhap News Agency based in Seoul. In June, South Korea provided $200 million to pay the entire Korean workforce at U.S. bases through the end of 2020.  The U.S. military warned its South Korean base employees in November that they may face another furlough in 2021 if an agreement cannot be reached.

Happy 75th to VCS.  The Veterans Canteen Service is celebrating 75 years of service to our Nation’s Veterans and the thousands of dedicated caregivers in Veterans facilities.  ALA congratulates and extends its gratitude to VCS Executive Director Ray Tober and his world-class team of professionals for their service at 160 locations worldwide n caring for our Veterans and contributing to so many worthy causes on their behalf.   Ray, we are honored to be associated with you and your team.  Seventy-five years ago, on Jan. 3, 1946, President Harry S. Truman formally established the forerunner of today’s Veterans Health Administration, the Department of Medicine and Surgery within the Veterans Administration, when he signed Public Law 79-293.

Customs and Border Protection Agency detaining Sime Darby Plantation palm oil products.  Citing use of forced labor, CBP is urging consumers to “check the websites of their favorite retailers to verify that they have fair trade policies and corporate social responsibility programs.” Palm oil is a common ingredient in products that U.S. consumers encounter every day in grocery and convenience stores. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, palm oil is increasingly found in processed foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, soap and biodiesel.  The Withhold Release Orders and Findings listed onCBP.gov.  The Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced with Child and Forced Labor; and Vietnam sanctions considered.

U.S. Trade Representative to initiate an investigation of Vietnam’s manipulation of currency and is considering sanctions.     A statement from the U.S. Trade Representatives’ office says “Vietnam’s currency is closely tied to the U.S. dollar. Available analysis indicates that Vietnam’s currency has been undervalued over the past three years. Specifically, analysis indicates that the dong was undervalued on a real effective basis by approximately 7 percent in 2017 and by approximately 8.4 percent in 2018. Furthermore, analysis indicates that the dong’s real effective exchange rate was undervalued in 2019 as well.”  Hearings were held on December 29 and 30.  Retail organizations testified that

  • They are concerned about the potential for tariffs to be now placed on their imports from Vietnam as a result of this investigation.
  • As companies continue to recover from the ongoing economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, new tariffs on imports from Vietnam will further harm these U.S. companies and will result in higher costs for their consumers, many who themselves are recovering as well.
  • The proposed tariffs would increase costs to consumers (businesses and their customers, including American families) at a particularly challenging time — even after retailers attempt to adjust by changing sourcing, yet again.
  • Consumers would pay as much as $11 billion more for goods imported from Vietnam.
  • Apparel and footwear would be especially hit, as tariffs on these items from Vietnam
  • Sanctions would add to the high duties American consumers already pay for these goods. Notably, the tariffs on imports from Vietnam would shift some trade back to China, even with tariffs of equal size imposed on imports from that source.
  • The Retail Industry Leaders Association testified that American businesses and families have been assessed more than $72 billion and placing a tax on Vietnam imports now would create tremendous uncertainty for U.S. retailers and unfairly punish them for moving away from China.

All but three Navy bases have reinstated their travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The Stars and Stripes newspaper also reported that as of December 28, 59 out of 62 naval bases had travel restrictions reinstated, according to a Pentagon document released Wednesday. The only U.S. naval bases that have lifted their travel restrictions are located overseas: Naval Station Rota in Spain, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and Naval Support Activity Bahrain the paper reported.  As of Monday, 91 of 231 U.S. military installations around the world, or 39%, had lifted their travel restrictions for personnel, according to the document. The last time there was that few bases open for travel was July 13.  The military reached the most open bases on Nov. 4 at 153 out of 231, or 66%, according to the Pentagon. Since then, more installations have had to reinstate travel restrictions as coronavirus cases have risen during the holiday season and cooler weather.

DoD travel restrictions published.  https://media.defense.gov/2020/Dec/30/2002558522/-1/-1/1/COVID-19-TRAVEL-RESTRICTIONS-INSTALLATION-STATUS-UPDATE-DECEMBER-30-2020.PDF?source=GovDelivery

Operation Warp Speed briefing

https://cdn.dvidshub.net/media/video/2012/DOD_108124345/DOD_108124345-1024×576-1769k.mp4

  • With two vaccines for COVID-19 —one from Pfizer and one from Moderna— now available to Americans following emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, Operation Warp Speed has been moving quickly to get those doses out to everyone who needs them.    “We are really doing well, in my opinion, in the distribution,” Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna said during a briefing today from the Pentagon. “Over 14 million doses of vaccine have been distributed to date. And every day we push more vaccine.”
  • Operation Warp Speed stood up just seven months ago, in May, to help bring a vaccine for COVID-19 to the American people. Since then, Perna said, OWS has been instrumental in the development of two vaccines, and Americans are now receiving those vaccines. Perna also said OWS worked to develop manufacturing capacity for the vaccines while they were still in development — including the construction of new manufacturing facilities.  The general also explained other efforts OWS has undertaken since it stood up, to further the goal of getting vaccines and therapeutics to the American people.  In October, OWS announced a partnership with CVS and Walgreens where those two pharmacy chains would provide free-of-charge vaccination services to long-term care facilities across the U.S.

J.C. Penny’s and Macy’s saga continues.  Macy’s has announced the closure of 36 more stores of the 544-store chain.  Also, under new ownership, J.C. Penney is continuing its tradition of turning over chief executives.  When Soltau arrived two years ago, there were high hopes that her reputation as a talented merchant might bring about the turnaround the department store had been toiling at for years. She replaced Marvin Ellison, who left to become CEO at Lowe’s after about three years on the job, making it four CEOs in about 10 years.  The department store hasn’t had a year of positive net income since 2010, and has especially struggled in women’s apparel. Penney has watched beauty retailer Sephora plan to exit the shops it had established at several Penney stores, which have proven to be some of Penney’s best traffic drivers, and head to Kohl’s instead.

DeCA Plans Slate of Early CY2021 Category Reviews.  ALA’s Larry Lapka reports that throughout December, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced a slate of category reviews that will be conducted by the Sales Directorate (SD) and are scheduled to take place throughout January and into early February in calendar year 2021.  According to Tracie Russ, the agency’s director of Sales, these category review areas are slated to include items ranging from chilled butter, margarine and spreads to organic health and beauty care (HBC) products.

Delivery charges eat into supermarket profits.  Many supermarkets say they aren’t making money through Instacart, largely because the delivery company typically charges them a commission of more than 10% of each order. Some of Instacart’s retailer partners say the service holds too much control over customer interactions and expect it to take an increasing share of money that food makers spend on marketing.  All that has put grocers in a bind, as delivery continues to boom and becomes a necessity. Some grocers are focusing more on their own pickup operations or working with rival delivery companies.  For many supermarkets, food delivery cuts into already-thin profits. “We don’t think we make money from an Instacart order,” said Mark Skogen, CEO of Skogen’s Foodliner Inc., which operates more than 30 stores under its Festival Foods brand and began offering Instacart about a year ago.  Instacart said it has added or expanded arrangements with more than 150 retailers in the U.S. and Canada this year, putting it in partnership with more than 500 companies including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc., Aldi Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc.  To maintain some control, others are choosing not to outsource their entire e-commerce business. Kroger, the nation’s biggest grocer, handles pickup orders with its own staff. The company also encourages customers to order delivery through its website—rather than Instacart’s—by offering digital coupons and fuel savings at Kroger gas stations for members of its loyalty program. Kroger executives described Instacart on recent earnings call as a big partner but said the grocer is always seeking delivery partners.  Retailers have more options at hand. DoorDash Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. started delivering groceries this year while Target Corp.’s Shipt Inc. continues to expand.

DeCA health safety slot filled.  Army Col. Alisa R. Wilma is the interim director of the Defense Commissary Agency’s public health and safety directorate, announced Rogers E. Campbell, executive director of DeCA’s Store Operations Group. The appointment was effective Dec. 15.  Wilma temporarily fills a position left vacant by the departure of Army Lt. Col. Angela Parham, who is on leave as she prepares to retire Jan. 31. The agency is going through the selection process for Parham’s permanent replacement, who is expected to be on-site by mid-June.  DeCA’s food safety mission ensures all edible products destined for commissary shelves are inspected by military Veterinary Services personnel, who check items for documented place of origin, and ensure they are within appropriate temperature ranges and free of any pests or signs of contamination that could cause foodborne diseases.  N In the area of occupational health and safety, agency specialists are charged with tracking U.S. federal requirements along with those governing the local national employees in the country where the store operates.

71 percent of young Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are currently ineligible for military service, primarily because they are too poorly educated, too overweight, or have a history of crime or substance abuse. This according to Mission: Readiness, an organization of 800 retired admirals and generals in a letter to the acting Secretary of Defense.

Base operations contract award.  Valiant/ALCA JV LLC, Clarksville, Tennessee, was awarded a $7,528,791 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity modification under a contract for base operating support (BOS) services at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella. After award of this option, the total cumulative contract value will be $19,062,534. The work to be performed provides for all labor, supervision, management, tools, materials, equipment, facilities, transportation, incidental engineering, and other items necessary to provide base services for NAS Sigonella and its outlying support sites.

Long-time military family advocate Rep. Susan Davis’ farewell message.  So much of my time in Washington has focused on my two committees of Armed Services and Education and Labor. The fact that I witnessed the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon from my DC office (while watching planes strike the Twin Towers in New York) in my first year in office had a profound impact on me and the time I devoted to military families. In addition to making sure our troops got what they needed to meet their operations, I intervened with families where necessary. That extended to helping our troops with their educations and that of their families after the multiple deployments many of our men and women endured. I always felt that pairing of committees allowed me to use my skills and experience and best serve San Diego.  Thank you, Congresswoman Davis.

Germany withdrawal in question.  At least one Congressman is saying that the withdrawal of forces from Germany won’t happen any times soon.   “I do believe that if there’s a change in the administration, that this will not happen,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., told Military Times on Oct. 15 during a press call. Gallego and his colleagues passed their version of the 2021 Defense bill which includes a provision that no troops be removed from Germany until the Defense Department submits a detailed timeline and financial plan for the withdrawal, then carries out a waiting period of 120 days.  Though the Pentagon has proposed moving 12,000 troops out of Germany, officials could not offer details about the cost or the proposed timeline for carrying out the plan.

Ahold acquires FreshDirect.  A new era begins for FreshDirect after Ahold Delhaize said it received regulatory approval and closed on its acquisition of the food delivery company. After receiving regulatory clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  FreshDirect will retain its brand name and continue to independently operate out of its New York City facility.   Launched in 2002, FreshDirect provides grocery delivery to the greater New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, with seasonal service to eastern Long Island and the Jersey Shore. Principal long-term investors in the online grocer include Brightwood Capital Advisors, Maverick Capital and W Capital Partners.  Albertsons decided to move away from doing its own grocery delivery in Southern California and other areas in early December, according to Andrew Whelan, senior director, communications & public affairs for Albertsons.

Walmart Agrees to Amend National Hiring Practices to Protect Military Members. The Department of Justice announced today the resolution of a lawsuit in which Naval Petty Officer Third Class Lindsey Hunger alleged that Walmart violated her rights when it failed to offer her employment at the Walmart store located at 2545 Rimrock Avenue in Grand Junction, Colorado because of her upcoming Naval Reserve commitments. Ms. Hunger had alleged that Walmart’s actions violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney’s Office represented Petty Officer Hunger in the lawsuit.

As part of the settlement, which includes backpay for Petty Officer Hunger, Walmart has agreed to review and revise its employment and internal hiring policies across the corporation. It has also agreed to revise the policies to include the following language:  “Walmart prohibits discrimination against individuals, including applicants, based on their military service (including required military training obligations) or membership in the uniformed services.” Walmart will also ensure that “all supervisors, managers, and administrative staff” in the Grand Junction, Colorado store at issue receive training — developed in consultation with the United States —“on the requirements of USERRA and on employees’ and service members’ rights and obligations under the statute.”  This lawsuit stems from a complaint that Ms. Hunger filed with the United States Department of Labor, which, after an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

GAO protests off slightly.  Industry continued a recent downward trend in the number of bid protests filed over federal contracts in fiscal 2020, according to the Government Accountability Office.  GAO, which adjudicates bid protests, handled 2,149 bid protests in fiscal 2020, down 2% from the 2,198 bid protests filed by industry in fiscal 2019.   Fiscal 2020’s bid protest tally represents a 10-year low in the number of bid protests filed by industry, down from a peak number of 2,789 protests filed in fiscal 2016.  In fiscal 2020, GAO sustained 84 of 545 total cases decided on merit, for a sustainment rate of about 15%. The most common reason for a sustained or successful protest by industry was over unreasonable technical evaluations, followed by flawed solicitations, unreasonable cost or price evaluations, and unreasonable past performance evaluation.

Best regards,

Stephen Rossetti

President

DeCA Keeps Safety As Top Priority Into CY 2021

DeCA Keeps Safety As Top Priority Into CY 2021 • FORT LEE

Although the year has changed, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) states that its responsibility to deliver the commissary benefit safely during the COVID-19 pandemic has not waned.

“Be assured, at all of our commissary locations worldwide, we are following Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Defense (DoD) guidance, specifically regarding sanitary measures, social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and chief executive officer (CEO). “These measures are particularly important to keep our employees and customers healthy as case numbers climb.”

On March 25, DeCA’s stores, central distribution centers (CDC) and its central meat processing plant (CMPP) were designated mission-critical in DoD’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the agency has not taken this responsibility lightly, Moore said.

“The entire DeCA team appreciates the tremendous responsibility of being one of your valued lifelines for support and understands the critical mission of delivering your commissary benefit,” he said.

COMMISSARY SAFETY MEASURES

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeCA has implemented the following measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus in commissaries:

• Commissaries conduct daily health screenings of anyone who works in these stores — including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors — before they start their shifts

• Anyone entering a store — including customers — must wear a face covering

• Stores have clear plastic sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes

• Commissary personnel wipe down checkout areas, product display cases, restrooms and shopping carts with disinfectant, and practice routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures

• Touchless credit card processing eliminates the need for the customer to sign for purchases

• Customers scan their own ID cards so cashiers can provide them touchless transactions

• Reusable bag usage has been banned

• DeCA canceled special events — such as the spring sidewalk sales, in-store product demonstrations (including DeCA’s free coffee program), group tours, vendor-sponsored events and other events — to discourage group gatherings

• Commissaries are working with installation leadership and public health personnel to implement risk-reduction practices specific to that base

• To help give customers more cost-effective options for personal protective equipment, commissaries have added disposable and reusable masks and digital contactless thermometers to store inventories.

“I would like to send a profound ‘thank you’ to our customers on behalf of our DeCA employees worldwide,” Moore said. “We all would like you to know how much we appreciate your understanding, patience, and continued support throughout the coronavirus outbreak.”

AAFES SAFETY MEASURES

DeCA is not alone in its insistence on safety in its stores, as all military stores have made safety a priority. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has been providing a safe, sanitized and secure shopping experience.

Protecting the force and the military community is said to be AAFES’s top priority. Contactless shopping options, including curbside pickup and ordering at ShopMyExchange.com, are available to Exchange shoppers. “Buy online, pickup in store” service and restaurant carryout are also available.

In Exchange stores, acrylic shields have been installed at checkout; floor decals and signing remind shoppers about maintaining physical distance; and hand sanitizer stations are readily available.

Associates and shoppers adhere to DoD guidance on the wearing of cloth face coverings.

Source: DeCA, AAFES

Edited by Larry Lapka

A DeCA shopper at Schinnen, Netherlands, loads up on groceries, and does it safely by wearing a face covering to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

DeCA’s Hudson, Standard Retire After Decades of Service

Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka

DeCA’s Hudson, Standard Retire After Decades of Service • FORT LEE

As the ball dropped on calendar year 2020 and the world moved into the more hopeful 2021, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced that two of its long-time executive employees, Principal Deputy Director of the Store Operations Group James J. “Jay” Hudson Jr., and Chief of Staff Teena Standard, had retired. Hudson’s retirement became effect on Dec. 31, while Standard’s retirement became effective on Jan. 2.

The agency said it is conducting a formal recruitment process to select Hudson’s successor, while upon Standard’s retirement, Christopher Lyons, DeCA’s Resale and Government Affairs advisor, was chosen as the temporary chief of staff effective Jan. 3, and he will serve in that position until Standard’s permanent replacement is chosen.

Both Hudson and Standard had worked for about 40 years each in the military commissaries, spanning the pre-DeCA period, when each service had its own supermarkets, through the creation of the agency in 1990 and its implementation in 1991, into the present time.

To honor their career accomplishments, each executive received the DeCA Civilian Career Service Award from DeCA Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bill Moore for their years of service. Both Hudson and Standard received their respective awards on Dec. 15, during their final appearances at a headquarters’ senior staff meeting.

Upon presentation of their most recent agency awards, DeCA Director Moore spoke about each executive and how their work was valued by the agency.

About Hudson, Moore said, “I would like to wish you my very best on your upcoming retirement, and say thanks for your contributions to the agency, the Department of Defense, and our country.

“During your time with DeCA, you helped make the commissary benefit even better. Your professionalism and dedication produced outstanding customer support during your years in the federal civilian service.”

Moore also had high praise for Standard. “Teena has been a stabilizing force in headquarters and a constant source of institutional knowledge that has spanned several directors.

“We will miss her professionalism, expertise and dedication that significantly helped us deliver an efficient benefit to our patrons.”

HUDSON

Hudson had served as principal deputy director of the Store Operations Group since 2011 after being director of Performance and Policy from 2008 to 2011.

Before moving to Store Operations, he was the director of Corporate Communications from 2005 to 2008, where he oversaw the agency’s public affairs, history, website and audio-visual (AV) activities. 

Hudson began his commissary career on active duty with the Air Force from 1981 to 1992, during which he served in various assignments in Europe and in the continental United States (CONUS) for the Air Force Commissary Service (AFCOMS), one of DeCA’s predecessor commissary entities.

In 1992, he left active duty and entered civil service as the store manager at NSB New London, Conn. Over the next 16 years, he served in a series of management assignments at store, zone, region and headquarters levels.

From 2004 to 2005, Hudson served as chief of the agency’s Corporate Operations Group, where he supported DeCA’s executive leadership and the agency’s functional process owners, staff office chiefs and their action officers.

Hudson has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and another in business management from Lakeland College, Sheboygan, Wis. He completed the Federal Executive Institute Center for Executive Leadership DeCA Corporate Successor Development Program in 2000, 2002 and 2005.

His most recent awards include the DeCA Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Superior Civilian Service Award.

STANDARD

Standard served as full-time headquarters chief of staff since January 2020, managing the daily operations and interrelations of the DeCA headquarters staff, and serving as the principal business management advisor to the agency’s chief operating officer (COO) and the director.

Before being named full-time chief of staff, Standard served as executive officer to the DeCA director from 2013 through 2019. From 2018 to June 2019, she also served as interim chief of staff.

Prior to being the executive officer to the DeCA director, Standard was chief of the Executive Services Division from 2010 to 2013, following a two-year assignment as a process improvement specialist, specializing in Lean Six Sigma, in DeCA’s Corporate Planning Directorate.

Standard began her federal civilian career with the Air Force as a clerk typist in 1979. She subsequently joined the Air Force Material Command Depot and Worldwide Supply Corps at Robins AFB, Ga.

In 1989, she joined AFCOMS as part of a pilot program to order commissary products locally and ship them to commissaries located in Turkey and Greece. 

In 1994, Standard became a produce manager at Robins AFB. From 1996 to 1998, she served as an assistant commissary officer at NWS Charleston, S.C.

Standard later served as a store director in Georgia, from 1998 to 2002 at Hunter AAF, and later, from 2002 to 2006, at Robins AFB. After serving in the field, Standard rotated to headquarters, and from 2006 to 2008, she became deputy director at the agency’s Center for Learning.

Standard has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Saint Leo University, Tampa, Fla. She is also a Department of Defense-certified Lean Six Sigma black belt.

PARTIMNG THOUGHTS

Hudson had high regard for his DeCA experience. “I have had the honor of working with some of the most dedicated people in the world as they delivered the commissary benefit to America’s military members and their families around the world — often in a ‘come what may’ environment. The men and women of DeCA are the heart and soul of the commissary benefit. The dedication of our people will always stand out to me.

“Seeing the level of personal sacrifice our folks give during natural and man-made disasters, and even [during] a pandemic, is inspiring. Even when faced with their own personal issues during these tragedies, our people never cease to be there to provide the benefit for the military community. So to sum up my feelings about working for DeCA — I am proud to be a part of such a dedicated organization.”

Standard also valued the experience she had with the agency. “As I leave DeCA, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to my staff. You all show the highest level of professionalism and competence in your areas of expertise. Your flexibility and willingness to get the job done well are exhibited every single day.

“You have made me look good through some pretty challenging times and I feel extremely blessed to have worked with you.”

Source: DeCA

Edited by Larry Lapka

Hudson

Standard

DeCA Director Bill Moore presents Jay Hudson and Teena Standard with the DeCA Civilian Career Service Award on Dec. 15, during their final appearances at a headquarters’ senior staff meeting.

AAFES Extends ‘Chief Chat’ Into New Year

Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka

AAFES Extends ‘Chief Chat’ Into New Year • DALLAS

With the pandemic continuing to shape its operations, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is extending its popular “Chief Chat” Facebook live series into 2021, giving the military community exclusive access to military leaders, war heroes, Hollywood stars, athletes, musicians and more.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor, hosts the live chats at Facebook.com/shopmyexchange to boost morale for Soldiers and Airmen.

“The Exchange has long been a destination for the military community to come together,” Osby said. “When COVID-19 challenged our ability to hold in-store events, we quickly pivoted to an online format to provide military-exclusive events for the Army and Air Force communities the Exchange is honored to serve.

“These interactions with celebrities and military leadership — where viewers engage in real time — allow us to come together and enjoy a unique morale boost during these challenging times.”

GUEST LIST

Upcoming “Chief Chat” guests include:

• Actor Lou Diamond Phillips, 11 a.m. Central, Jan. 12

• Space Force Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, 11 a.m. Central, Jan. 13

• NASCAR driver Austin Wayne Self, 11 a.m. Central, Jan. 26

Past guests include Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston; Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass; Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón Colón-López; and a series of Medal of Honor recipients.

Other notable personalities involved in the series have included actors Matthew McConaughey and Mark Wahlberg; actor/sports personality Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; and music personalities Sean “Diddy” Combs and Garth Brooks. All 80-plus episodes can be found on the Exchange’s Facebook playlist.

“In so many of our chats, these big-name stars have been quick to point out who our nation’s real heroes are: service members and military families,” Osby said. “The Exchange is looking forward to bringing more military-exclusive opportunities to the best customers in the world in 2021.”

REAL-TIME EVENTS

Due to the continuance of the pandemic, all of the military resale groups have had to adapt to a changing promotional environment. Like AAFES, they have scheduled numerous virtual events to make up for the lack of in-person events due to coronavirus restrictions.

For one, Maine Corps Community Services (MCCS), the entity that oversees the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX), has instituted the “Book Club: Cover to Cover” series, where well-known authors and personalities address their new literary efforts. 

Popular author John Grisham and Academy Award-winning actor McConaughey have already participated in this virtual event, with more authors to come.

These events can be accessed at Facebook.com/MarineCorpsExchange.

Source: AAFES, MCX

Edited by Larry Lapka

AAFES First Anniversary, Expanded Shopping Beneifts

Editor’s Note: This release was edited by Larry Lapka

AAFES Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Shopping Privileges Expansion • DALLAS

On Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) celebrated the first anniversary of the expansion of its shopping privileges,

The new privilege, which allowed 4.1 million service-connected disabled veterans to partake of the in-store shopping benefit, was specified in the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018, included in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019.

“Welcoming home service-connected disabled veterans with a lifelong Exchange benefit has been a bright spot during 2020,” said Exchange Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tom Shull, a Vietnam-era Army veteran. “Our nation’s heroes fought for us and deserve this benefit — and the Exchange is privileged to take care of disabled veterans through the in-person shopping benefit.”

BEENFIT EXPANSION

According to AAFES, in-person shopping at military exchanges, commissaries and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) retail facilities on U.S. military installations was expanded to:

• All veterans with service-connected disabilities

• Purple Heart recipients

• Former prisoners of war (POW)

• Primary family caregivers for veterans who are enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

Before the expansion, only veterans with 100-percent service-connected disabilities could shop in person. Active-duty service members, their dependents and military retirees also have in-store and online privileges.

ENGAGING WITH THE MILITARY COMMUNITY

By shopping the Exchange, veterans also help those who wear the uniform today. One hundred percent of Exchange earnings are reinvested in the military community, including through dividends to quality-of-life (QoL) programs such as Child, Youth and School Services and Armed Forces Recreation Centers.

“Shopping with the Exchange gives service-connected disabled veterans a chance to re-engage with their military community, allowing them to remain Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members for life,” Shull said. “The Exchange provides value to the Veteran community and offers a tangible way to thank them for their service.”

Source: AAFES

Edited by Larry Lapka