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AAFES continues efforts to improve quality of life on Okinawa bases

A van leaves the drive-thru of the new Popeyes restaurant on Kadena, Sept. 21, 2010. The new Popeyes opened this month across from the Olympic Shopping Mall replacing the one on Fairchild and Douglas. The old Popeyes location is slated to become a Pizza Hut/Wing Stop. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Tateishi)

A van leaves the drive-thru of the new Popeye's restaurant on Kadena, Sept. 21, 2010. The new Popeye's opened this month across from the Olympic Shopping Mall replacing the one on Fairchild and Douglas. The old Popeye's location is slated to become a Pizza Hut/Wing Stop. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mike Tateishi)

CAMP FOSTER, Japan -- The Army and Air Force Exchange Service on Okinawa is continuing to pursue projects and host special events here which are aimed at improving the quality of life for its more than 54,000 customers who include military service members, their families and DoD civilians.

Some of these projects and events include Shoppette renovations, the construction of new food facilities and festivities hosted at base exchanges throughout the island to include the one-year anniversary of the Kadena Air Base Main Exchange.
In the past year, AAFES facilities on Okinawa contributed $15,423,794 of their earnings to Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs while about a third of their earnings went toward building new AAFES facilities or renovating existing ones.
According to Shawn Dorcy, AAFES area manager for Japan and the general manager for AAFES Okinawa Exchanges, the pursuit of AAFES projects and the reasons behind them have always been about giving back to the military service members who make daily sacrifices for their country.

"This is AAFES primary mission and it's why we're here," said Dorcy, "It's not only the impact we have here but the impact we have on forward deployed areas, it's the true portion of the AAFES motto which says 'we go where you go.' We're on the frontlines everyday and we have a vested interest in taking care of our customers and a heartfelt desire to be everything we can be for them."
"We are the only organization that I know of in the world that has a 100 percent return on our investment which is given directly back to the customers we serve," he added.

AAFES recently completed a major project by activating 24-hour, unattended fuel pumps which came on line at Camps Hansen, Courtney, Kinser and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma over the past few months. In addition to those locations, AAFES will also be providing unattended fuel pumps to military service members and their families on Camp Foster in early October and on Camp Schwab in November.
Providing service members full access to fuel 24-hours a day is just another way AAFES has been working to make life more convenient on Okinawa bases, said Dorcy.

Over the next few months, major construction and renovation projects have been scheduled for AAFES facilities on Kadena.
"We are really looking at the total scope of what our business models should be on the corner of Douglas Avenue and Fairchild on Kadena Air Base and how AAFES can best serve our customers there," said Dorcy. "First and foremost, we really need a larger Shoppette and additional multi-product dispensaries for fuel."
"We are also looking as we move forward for opportunities for food in that area," he added, explaining a plan which AAFES will be presenting to its board of directors, according to Dorcy, which includes resituating a Shoppette with a Burger King which will be located on the current Burger King site at Kadena.

In the Fairchild area of Kadena, the recently closed Popeye's Chicken building will be demolished to make way for future projects to be constructed on the site and the Box Office Video there will be converted to a Pizza Hut and Wing Street food venue.

"Working that project takes care of a couple of significant customer opportunities for us," said Dorcy. "It enables us to double our Pizza Hut delivery capacity and it enables us to move Box Office Video into our more traditional outlets which include Shoppettes."
"The capacity exists today at both the Fairchild Shoppette and the Olympic Shoppette to grow the Box Office Video business to ensure the impact to the community is minimal when you make that change," he added.

AAFES recently opened a new Popeye's at the Kadena Olympic area location on Sept. 3 with a grand-opening scheduled for Sept. 20.

Along with the other projects on Kadena, the Shoppette at the Olympic area will undergo a major renovation in early 2011.

AAFES will also be converting the Robin Hood at Futenma into a Subway restaurant with the project projected to be completed by December.

As the 2010 school year began, AAFES geared up to handle serving school lunches to more than 8,024 returning students at Okinawa's Department of Defense Schools.

"Our school lunch program has been very successful and the process has gone very well this year. We've had no major problems," Dorcy said, while explaining that AAFES works with the services each year to enhance the quality of lunches and ensure that serving lines run smoothly.

Besides school lunch programs, another service AAFES personnel provide on Okinawa includes a bakery which offers more than 250 items that it delivers to commissaries, dining facilities, restaurants and schools among many other facilities.

AAFES is constantly working to improve services the bakery provides, according to Dorcy.
"We're working on getting new, exciting and greater selections of wheat products and we continue to look at ways that we can increase the offerings that we have of fresh baked products," said Dorcy.

"We have our own distribution centers to ensure we get items on the shelves as quickly as possible."

In addition to services and projects, each month, AAFES facilities also host special events such as the upcoming one-year anniversary for the Kadena Air Base Main Exchange which runs Oct. 1-3 at the Exchange and the Foster Holiday Bazaar from Nov. 26-28 at the Camp Foster Field House.

Kadena Exchange's one year anniversary celebration will feature games, giveaways and special discounts on food items and merchandise. The Foster Holiday bazaar will consist of more than 40 vendors from 15 different countries, merchandise from all over the world, prize giveaways, holiday sales and entertainment.

A "Salute to Your Service" event, being held in appreciation of military retirees, will take place at Kadena Main Exchange from Sept.24-26. The three-day event will include a Salute to Service Sweepstakes online, dollar-off coupons and up to 25 and 50 percent off selected items.

Robert Rice, Kadena Main Exchange Store Manager, said holding events for AAFES customers is a way to make them feel at home and can be a real morale booster.

"We are more than a store, we're all about the experience," said Rice. "We want to make it a community hub, a true part of the community where they enjoy spending time, and bringing a piece of home to them is what it's all about."