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AAFES top enlisted tours Patrick exchanges

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm, David Crain and Cheryl Alston inspect stocks of military clothing at Patrick’s Military Clothing Sales Store Tuesday. Chief Helm toured Patrick’s MCSS and discussed Air Force uniform issues with Ms. Alston, MCSS store manager and Mr. Crain, Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager for Patrick AFB. Chief Helm is the enlisted advisor to the AAFES commanding general. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm, David Crain and Cheryl Alston inspect stocks of military clothing at Patrick’s Military Clothing Sales Store Tuesday. Chief Helm toured Patrick’s MCSS and discussed Air Force uniform issues with Ms. Alston, MCSS store manager and Mr. Crain, Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager for Patrick AFB. Chief Helm is the enlisted advisor to the AAFES commanding general. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tom Czerwinski)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The senior enlisted advisor to the commanding general of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service visited here March 30 and 31.

During his visit, Chief Master Sgt. Jeffry Helm met with wing leadership, toured AAFES facilities, met with employees and addressed AAFES related issues on Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

AAFES is a joint military command with a retail mission that is two-fold, providing quality products and services to all service members, their families and military retirees, and
to generate earnings to supplement Army Morale Welfare and Recreation and Air Force Services programs, according to Chief Helm.

Chief Helm is one of 72 active duty servicemembers assigned to AAFES headquarters in Dallas to carry out this mission, and they employ more than 43,000 civilian associates world-wide.

"For every dollar earned, 67 cents comes back to the Air Force services from the MWR dividend. Last year Patrick got approximately $500,000, so shopping at the exchange is a win-win," said Chief Helm. "You get great products at a great price and your spent money comes back to the base through the dividend."

On the first day of his visit, Chief Helm met with the wing First Sergeants and group Chiefs for breakfast, giving all a chance to ask questions and most of the concerns were about military clothing sales and ABU quality.

"Part of my job as the senior enlisted advisor is to visit bases throughout the world and find out what AAFES can do to better to serve its customers and fix existing problems," said Chief Helm.

"My top priority is to straighten out the uniform issues, getting the ABUs stocked where an Airman can walk into the clothing sales and pull a set of ABU pants and coat off the shelf and not having to worry about the colors matching up," said Chief Helm.

Another big clothing issue facing Airmen is the availability of the new Green Fleece outer garment now authorized for wear.

"The Green Fleece is a great weight especially down here in Florida were the winter temps are in the 40s, but we have to give priority to our Airmen at extreme cold weather bases, so that is where most of our stocks are going," said Chief Helm.

"Currently, manufacturers are promising us 22,000 green fleece a month so prior to this coming winter Patrick's [Military Clothing Sales] should be well stocked, but don't wait for the first cold day to buy one because MCSS could be sold out by then," he added.

A new uniform item to look for by the end of the summer in Patrick's military clothing sales are the newly designed PT shorts. Now the shorts will have two pockets and be two to three inches longer, but are actually true size, where a medium is a medium. Right now most Airmen who are medium have to buy extra large, according to Chief Helm.

In 2009 alone, AAFES completed renovations on the Cape Canaveral shoppette;  reopened Patrick's Burger King and upgraded the PowerZone section in the base main exchange. According to Patrick AFB Exchange General Manager David Crain, projects for 2010 include expanding the snack avenue at Patrick's North Shopette to accommodate more selections of hot food, and a coffee bar with more selections of hot and cold drinks. Also, the mini-mall dry cleaners and alterations shop will be renovated or relocated.

"Educating our customers on the exchange benefit is the most important part of my job. Our goal is to be your number one choice for retail shopping, you can go anywhere to purchase an iPod or a TV but when you buy from AFFES that's money going back to support Airmen," said Chief Helm.

"More importantly, clothing sales is the only place Airmen can buy uniform items on base without mail ordering them, making it our goal to have what they need when they need it so they can be outfitted properly," he added.

For more information about AAFES and exchange programs visit www.aafes.com.