If the Defense Department Retail board has its way, on Veterans Day in 2017, military Post Exchanges will open their doors to a much larger population. That population will be any honorably discharged veteran. This change identifies a major shift in policy for the Department of Defense, and a potential boom to sales as a result.
Post Exchange Access
Access to the Post Exchange was previously limited to current service members, their spouses, retirees, and spouses of those killed in the line of duty. By permitting veterans, this would expand the numbers of those who have access by upwards of 20 million people. Actual numbers that will take advantage of the updated system are likely to be significantly lower due to the proximity that many people live towards military bases after they separate from service. Since this does not require that a veteran be retired, many of those service members who left the military are still young and sought employment elsewhere.
This would not permit reserve or National Guard members who did not attain veteran status from being included in this decision. As identified before, recognition of veteran status is a specific requirement and if those members have not been called to active duty service for the requisite amount of time they do not meet the criteria.
Early estimates of possible profits resulting from this change are in the $226 million to $1.13 billion range. Based on current levels of MWR program donations from the Post Exchange, it could result in up to $108 million being added to the MWR system.
The benefits for the Post Exchange are obvious. With the addition of the honorably discharged veteran community, any increase in sales will result in an increase of profits. For the military community, the addition may only be obliquely identified. While influxes to the MWR program are always beneficial, they are not directly correlated to the sales in the Post Exchange. Service members may see reductions in their usual products available as more items are bought up by the new community. This reduction is likely to last for a few months while new logistical supply chain averages are identified. After that, they should calm down and move back to usual status quos.
What About Commissary?
While the Post Exchange would be available, that would not apply to the commissary. The commissary would still be limited to its current user base, operating at an at cost business plan with its traditional 5% surcharge.
This proposal is still under consideration by the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. Changes to improve the business practices of the government eventually do tend to be approved, but the timeline is entirely unknown. The government is a bureaucracy, and decisions take significant amounts of time to go from proposal to approval. If the Pentagon does choose to approve this change, it is likely that it would occur as a test phase first, before becoming available for all Post Exchanges.
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