VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, UNITED STATES
Story by Kristine Sturkie
The Navy Exchange Service Command’s (NEXCOM) NEX Downrange Program was originally created overseas to support troops who are forward-deployed without access to a NEX. But due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the program has transformed into a quarantine support program to support service members who have either been placed on restriction of movement (ROM) by their commands or aboard a ship in port overseas and unable to disembark.
As of Apr. 9, the NEX Downrange Program, or now also known as the NEX Quarantine Support Program, has been adopted by over 20 NEX locations around the world and filled approximately 3,000 orders in a little over a week. The program will continue to expand to other NEX locations where there is a need.
At most NEX locations, service members can submit an order and pay for their merchandise via a secure encrypted internet site. The customer receives an email acknowledging the order and an estimated time the order will be delivered or will be available for pick up by the Sailor’s command. Customers can purchase a variety of items from the NEX including food, non-alcoholic beverages, electronics, personal hygiene, health and comfort items, sports nutrition and cleaning supplies. Due to social distancing guidelines, all orders are delivered or picked up without coming into close contact with the associate or customer.
“NEXCOM’s sole mission is to support our Navy, our Sailors and their families, especially in times of crisis,” said Greg Thomas, Senior Vice President, NEXCOM Operations. “Now more than ever our command must get creative and dig deep to support our service members, and this program does just that! For everyone’s safety and well-being, these men and women can’t come to a store… so we’re bringing the store to them!”
NEX locations that are providing the downrange or quarantine support program include Bahrain; Guam; Djibouti; Jebel Ali, Dubai; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Naples, Italy; NEX Jacksonville, Key West, Orlando and Pensacola, Fla.; NEX Newport, R.I.; NEX Great Lakes, Ill.; NEX San Diego; NEX Norfolk, Little Creek and Oceana, Va.; NEX Bremerton and Everett, Wash.; NEX Pearl Harbor and NEX New London, Conn.
At NEX Bahrain, its downrange program has evolved into a Ship Support Program to provide Sailors who are unable to disembark from ships in port at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. Prior to a ship’s arrival, the NEX receives and fills any merchandise orders and delivers them portside. To date, NEX Bahrain has filled 67 ship orders and 331 orders for Sailors residing in the barracks.
NEX Guam implemented its version of the program to support Sailors placed on ROM and within the first 24-hours of the program’s inception, filled over 60 orders. Last week the NEX Guam general manager received a note stating, “I cannot tell you how much of a force multiplier you and the NEX team have been. Every time you’ve has been asked to assist, you and the team not only accepted the challenge you exceeded all expectations with speed and agility. You have, once again, proved that your NEX Guam team is more than a brick and mortar store. Team NEX Guam’s efforts have made immediate and positive impact on the crew and this community.”
Stateside, NEX Great Lakes, Ill., at Navy Recruit Training Command is currently utilizing the program to support all new recruits who have been placed on ROM, and since the beginning of April has filled nearly 1,000 orders. At NEX San Diego where ROM Sailors are located all around the installation, they have adapted the program to provide a wide range of food delivery services and an online order system where their command representatives are able to also pick up items at the QMart. NEX New London, Conn., recently started its program for those students at the U.S. Naval Submarine School placed on quarantine, and has so far received over 30 orders. Additionally, NEX Pearl Harbor opened up its program on Apr. 6, and in three days, 25 orders were been placed, totaling nearly $2,000.
The NEX Downrange and Quarantine Support Program continue to be shaped and molded based on a particular installation’s need. Customers interested in finding out more information on this program should contact their local NEX.
NEXCOM’s six business lines have been industrious and determined to get Sailors and their families what they need in this ever-changing COVID-19 crisis.