Military & Spouse Employment At Military Bases

Joining the military means earning access to a wide range of benefits. Some of those are quite well-known, but others aren’t so obvious and can easily get overlooked. Some benefits are “official” programs made available from the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense, but others are less formal and made available either privately (such as military preference hiring) or publicly (discounted education, training, or career change help).

For military members, there are some not-so-obvious employment benefits and advantages to consider. When you join the Armed Forces, complete basic training and career field training (in a formal school or on-the-job), your first military duty station could provide the opportunity to earn additional income. How?

There are often opportunities for entry-level part-time employment via the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, better known as AAFES, which operates retail establishments on military bases. These establishments are basically the AAFES version of a “big box” retailer, known as The Exchange.

U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin Pacheco
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin Pacheco.

AAFES is only one retailer that operates on military installations, but it’s the most obvious choice for many in uniform who seek additional employment outside their military career field work.

Be aware that military chain-of-command approval may be required to accept “off-duty employment”, and those procedures will vary from command to command.

Circumstances play a big part in a military member’s decision to work at The Exchange or any other on-base retail establishment. Some find that their first overseas assignment turns into an opportunity to explore additional income opportunities. Those at remote assignments, “hardship tours”, or other duty that takes the military member away from family and friends may find that the part-time job is a good way to pass the time and save added funds.

AAFES isn’t the only on-base retailer that may offer entry-level or higher employment opportunities. The Defense Commissary Agency, which runs grocery stores on base, may also have positions available. Commissary operations are largely overseas, but some stateside bases (Lackland Air Force Base in Texas is a good example) also operate commissaries. There are also jobs available via the Department of Defense’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program (MWR), which operates in some form on many bases stateside and overseas.

Who are these employment opportunities good for? We started this article focusing on currently serving military members who may be in need of side income or who just want to use employment as a constructive way to pass the time, but the truth is that veterans, retirees, and military spouses/dependents are also eligible to apply for many of the jobs offered by AAFES, MWR, or the Defense Commissary Agency.

All applicants will need to provide standard job application data, but for some jobs additional information may be required such as the job seeker’s military status, or status as a dependent or spouse. Overseas jobs for military dependents and spouses may require a copy of the military member’s orders or other documentation unique to applying for an overseas job that is technically located on U.S. government property.

About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News