Honorably discharged veterans from all branches of service will soon have extra cash in their pockets.
Veterans who receive an honorable discharge will be able to shop tax-free at Army and Air Force Exchange stores online, where they will be able to get the same discounts as active duty military personnel, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
“It’s a modest benefit, but it can save you thousands of dollars a year,” said Exchange CEO Tom Shull, an alumnus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who embarked on a career in retail after serving for a decade in the U.S. Army.
“Veterans value the cost savings and what they can do to support the military,” Shull added.
The Exchange, which is run by the Department of Defense, sells goods that would be found at any major department store, such as name-brand clothing, makeup, electronics, toys, appliances, and home furnishings.
“The intent is to really beat Amazon at their game because we have locations literally on the installations,” Shull said. “We’re leaning toward not just ship-from-store but pick-up-from-store and eventually deliver-from-store.”
The government-run stores operate like any big-name retailer, except they do not pay rent for any location on a military base. It also provides jobs for family members of soldiers or airmen; two-thirds of employees are family members of servicemembers.
The stores also differ from typical big-box retailers in that they give a good portion of their profits back to the Defense Department. Out of the Exchange’s $384 million reported earnings last year, the stores gave $225 million to the Defense Department to fund programs that enhance soldiers’ quality of life on military bases. Some of these programs include fitness centers for servicemembers and their families as well as child development programs.
Qualified veterans can sign up at vetverify.org to check whether they are eligible for the tax-free benefit. KDVR reported that qualified veterans may start shopping with the benefit starting November 11.