This question has come up in several places, especially recently, so I thought I would post it up here and on cadetstuff.org as a reference.
CAP members have purchase privileges at AAFES as well as base exchanges and clothing sales. We are ONLY authorized to purchase uniform items through AAFES. The same goes for base exchanges and clothing sales. The rules are a bit different if you are stationed on a respective base, either temporarily or permanently. When in doubt, read the regs or consult your wing's LO.
Active Duty Military
National Guard personnel
Department of State Officials serving in foreign countries
and dependants of the above
Civil Air Patrol
Coast Guard Auxiliary
It is correct that we are not authorized to purchase items online. Sales must be done manually, via telephone or fax. I recommend direct phone call. Your best bet is to call them and request a catalog, or if you are near an AAFES store or base exchange, just run in and request one. Each service has their own catalog.
In most cases, military clothing runs smaller than civilian clothing, if for no other reason than the cuts are usually tapered, so you can almost bet you'll need at least one size larger than an equivalent item from Target. However similar items between services are usually identical or close enough to use as a gauge (example, a USN wheel cap can be used to size your head for a USAF wheel cap, likewise service coats, etc.). So if you don't have a USAF AAFES store near you, but you do have a NAVEx store, you can at least try things on before you order them.
Any AAFES store should be able to order anything from the AAFES inventory, as well as
do your alterations. Few civilian tailors will hook you up on a military dress jacket as well as an AAFES or base exchange tailor who does 20 a week. And the NAVEx's will generally have no issue doing alterations for you on a jacket you bring in - our people up here do it at NSGL all the time.
Another thing many people don't know is that AAFES can custom order blouses and other parts if your sizes are outside the norm. I have personally ordered custom-made USAF blouses through
the Scott AFB AAFES store , as they did not carry 19-1/2" neck, 37" sleeves. It took a couple of weeks, but the ladies down there were great and hand-held the order for me.
And to that issue, for goodness sake, be courteous! Once you know the 1-2-3, its pretty straightforward, but it depending on what you order and from where, like anything else there may be hiccups, and you have to hand-hold this a little more than you might prefer. I've heard more scuttle lately about CAP people acting like Alpha-Hotel's to AAFES and Vanguard, which isn't going to make it any EASIER for us. Remember, the operator does not know the whole history of the CAP-USAF relationship, etc. we are just one of thousands calling that day.
Ok, enough of that…
Here's AAFES's site: http://www.aafes.com/
You will not be able to login unless you are a member of the military, retired, etc., but you can get the phone numbers you'll need from there. Bear in mind these are standard colors, styles, etc.
Every officer in the USAF wears the same jacket - the ability to "browse" doesn't have a lot of use in this case.
Call 1-800-527-2345, and ask the operator for assistance in setting up a CAP purchasing account. For a long time, they would refer you to "Rosie" who was the operator who
handled the manual CAP transactions. The first purchase takes the longest - once you are in the system, things will go much smoother.
Whether you wind up talking direct to Rosie, or to someone else, you will need to fax a letter into AAFES explaining your status as a CAP member. The letter will need to include your
full name, address, SSN#, CAPID, grade, home unit, etc. Make sure you are clear form the operator on the requirements of the letter.
On the bottom of the letter you will need to include a copy of your CAP ID, and a photo ID, usually a driver's license. Make sure they are legible.
Follow up in a day or so that the letter was received and that you are good to go. Obviously
this is something you should do in advance of the need. Don't expect to call a week before
your dining out to order your Mess Dress, and then get cranky when it takes "too long". Also,
bear in mind that we are at war, and some items are in short supply all over.
From here you should be able to place your order(s). The more information you have regarding part number, size, color (i.e. 1620 vs 1625, etc.), will makes things easier. I have found the AAFES people very helpful and knowledgeable about their PRODUCTS, however do not expect them to know AFI 36-2903, let alone CAPM 39-1, so don't ask for advice regarding regs, etc.
Once you are done with the order, invariably the operator (unless its "Rosie"), will request credit card info, etc., and then reach a point where they try and close the order and find they can't because you are not military.
Now, I have been told, that a work-around for this is to fill in field V006 with day code "040981",
this worked the last time I ordered something. If it doesn't anymore, well, systems change.
That code enabled the order to be closed immediately.
If they are not able to release the order, it will go to "Rosie" for manual release. Unless she is out, she is good about getting things done. I'm sure some of you are grumbling right now about
only having "one person handle CAP". But my understanding is that CAP volume into AAFES is fairly light and one person is all they need.
If the order was released by the operator, you should receive it without further intervention, if it goes to manual, I would suggest calling back and checking on it in a day or so.
As I said, I have also, in the past, called AAFES stores directly and ordered things through the store, shipped direct.
Walking you through this process makes it seem more complicated than it really is. Dot the "I's",
cross the "T's" and be a little patient and this will not be a big deal.
Please reserve your comments to corrections or updates to procedures based on your recent
experience. Save nonsense about this being too complicated, or we're second class citizens, blah, blah, blah for other threads.