Commissary and AAFES outlets such as the Base Exchange or Post Exchange routinely employ those in the military community. These jobs are plentiful, especially for those stationed overseas, and there are opportunities for those who want upward mobility within these companies.
For military members and their families, two of the best-known on-base retailers are not just a source for food, clothes, electronics, or other items. They are also a source of employment for currently serving military members, spouses, dependent children, veterans and, military retirees.
Who Is Hired to Work at Commissaries and Exchanges?
Those interested in working at an Exchange facility should know there is no requirement to be in the military, nor a requirement that new hires be military family members or dependents. Base or Post Exchanges are run by AAFES have one basic job requirement to be eligible for consideration:
“Our basic employment requirement is that you have a passion for providing excellent customer service and the desire to serve those who serve” according to AAFES.
There are entry-level jobs, and more career-oriented management and corporate positions.
Commissary jobs may be slightly different depending on the applied positions. Some jobs are General Schedule (GS) pay grade federal positions while some may be considered more entry level and hiring may be done quite differently than for GS positions.
GS hiring can be complicated with required background checks and drug screenings, while more entry level positions may only require an interview and a resume review.
Is There Special Hiring Consideration For Military Spouses And Family Members?
For both AAFES and DeCA, hiring preference may be extended to military members, spouses, or dependents. Such preference may depend on the type of job openings available, whether the position requires a GS rating in the case of DeCA employees, and how long the applicant is available to work in a given location. This is the case for overseas work and sometimes even stateside hires.
AAFES has a special section of its official site for military spouses and family members. There are certain conditions for hiring preference and special hiring opportunities. DeCA directs military spouses and family members to resources including Military OneSource to learn more about hiring preferences and opportunities.
What Is The Commissary?
A commissary is the name of what is essentially an on-base grocery store. These facilities are centrally owned and managed by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) headquarters at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The DeCA official site describes its mission as being responsible for “a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items that are variably priced plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones.”
No matter what branch of the military you serve in, or what branch operates the military base or post you’re assigned to, commissaries provide an important service, and a cost-effective one. The DeCA official site claims that regular commissary use saves military shoppers “thousands of dollars annually” and does not charge taxes for purchases.
DeCA only operates the commissary, it does not operate the Base Exchange (BX) or Post Exchange (PX) or other retail outlets. The Army & Air Force Exchange System (AAFES) runs the Exchange system as well as other on-base retail locations.
What Is AAFES?
The Army & Air Force Exchange System, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has been operating in one form or another since 1895. The agency runs the Exchange system for both online shopping and on-base retail and serves wherever military members are found.
The motto of AAFES is “We go where you go.” According to the official site, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service “has served the Nation’s armed forces during combat operations, humanitarian missions and military exercises around the world.”
AAFES employees have “voluntarily deployed to serve troops during major wars, natural disasters, deep into jungles, high on mountaintops, and at tips of the spears in eastern Europe and South Korea”.
AAFES operates BX / PX stores which are similar to big box retail chains such as Kohl’s, Target, WalMart, etc. AAFES also runs on-base movie theaters, concessions, and other retail outlets on military bases in the United States and overseas.
These stores feature tax-free shopping, discounted goods, even a store credit card known as the Military Star Card.
Is The United States Navy Represented By AAFES?
The United States Navy has its’ own version of AAFES, known as Navy Exchange or NEX for short. NEX headquarters is in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Many of the same rules and issues apply to NEX retail jobs as the AAFES and DeCA jobs discussed here including the NEX policy of not requiring its employees to be in the military or military dependents. You can search for and find Navy exchange jobs at the NEX official site. Like AAFES, Navy Exchange Service Command jobs are not considered Civil Service positions.
Who Is Permitted to Shop at These Facilities?
In the past, only those with valid military ID could shop at AAFES and commissary locations. Dependents, retirees, and currently serving military members are all permitted, but civilian employees have been left out in decades past.
At the time of this writing, there are several proposals to change this so that DoD civilians, contractors, and other non-military personnel could also purchase from AAFES and DeCA operations.
How Do I Find AAFES Jobs?
Since AAFES does not only operate BX and PX outlets, there may be a large pool of jobs to choose from at a given military base or post. It’s possible to apply for AAFES jobs online and the AAFES official site. The “Apply Now” link takes job seekers to BrassRing.com listing individual positions at military bases all over the world.
The AAFES official site lists internship programs, management training opportunities, career offerings for those leaving military service, and much more.
How Do I Find Commissary Jobs?
Finding a job opening with the Defense Commissary Agency is centralized-the DeCA official site directs job seekers to search USAJobs.gov site. Once there, doing a general search on “DeCA jobs” will bring up both entry-level work such as tellers, baggers, and clerks at commissaries world wide, but also higher-level and federal GS positions.
Some of these jobs require only a minimum amount of experience and basic education requirements, while others may demand an extensive resume and professional experience. Some DeCA overseas jobs do not permit relocation expenses to be paid while others may.
Can I Apply For AAFES and DeCA Jobs Via Indeed, SimplyHired, Or Other Job Boards?
It is strongly recommended to apply directly via the job links from AAFES or DeCA official sites.
Third-party job boards like Indeed.com, SimplyHired, and others often simply redirect you to the AAFES or DeCA job interfaces.
Searching third party job boards may be less efficient than using the direct links from official sites, at least in terms of getting commissary or AAFES work.
Where Are These Facilities? Does Every Military Base Have AAFES and A Commissary?
AAFES and DeCA run their businesses inside military bases all over the world. AAFES can even be found in forward-deployed locations such as Iraq and elsewhere depending on mission requirements, safety issues, logistics support, etc.
Not all military bases have a commissary, but a large number of overseas installations, posts, and bases do. AAFES provides retail services at a great many military bases, but their “footprint” may not include a Base Exchange or Post Exchange. It depends on the size of the base and the permanence of the installation, etc.
BX and PX stores are only part of what AAFES does. In the past AAFES has operated video stores (remember those?), book stores, and even a liquor store known to military members as “Class Six” shops.
Is There A DeCA Commissary Near Me?
There is a searchable database of DeCA commissary locations worldwide you can use to search by zip code, state, country, or physical address.
Is There An AAFES Store, BX or PX Near Me?
AAFES offers a store finder search tool to find locations near you based on address, location, or mileage from a specific location.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
|AAFES Online Shopping For Veterans||Commissary Benefits|
|Military Exchanges||Getting A Job on A Military Base|
|Military Discounts||Military & Spouse Employment At Military Bases|