Dallas Army and Air Force Exchange Service will stay open in spite of shutdown

The government shutdown has begun and so has the finger-pointing.

President Trump says Democrats wanted to give him "a nice present" to mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. He says Democrats "could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."

Not everything related to the federal government is closed. In Dallas, one department of defense service that employs thousands will remain open.

It's a military service few may know about, based in Southern Dallas. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service operates more than 2,700 facilities, from convenience stores, to big box stores, in 36 countries; making it the 56th largest retailer in the country.

Active military members, their families and retirees can shop the stores tax free. Honorably discharged veterans can now shop online, too. All of the earnings go back to support military programs.

Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, and Senior Enlisted Advisor for the Exchange, Luis Reyes says the best service they provide is through their international stores, for troops overseas, serving in countries like Afghanistan or Iraq.

“We have department stores that provide name brand merchandise, we have food courts with name brand merchandise. We run first run movies, for example, we just showed Star Wars in Afghanistan,” he said. “The exchange brings American made products or American brands overseas, so those members could have a feel of home.”

The Exchange Service is almost entirely self-funded, meaning it does not rely heavily on taxpayer dollars. Reyes is one of the 3,000 employees in Dallas who will not be furloughed. His concern is on continuing service for our troops.

“It wouldn't be a good day if the Exchange ever shuts down. I could tell you that. It would really hurt our service members, our soldiers, all personnel, not only stateside but especially in the combat zones,” he said.

Honorably discharged veterans can shop the exchange online at shopmyexchange.com/veterans.