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Gift cards can be used by any military member, stateside or overseas, at any of the Exchange facilities worldwide or online. Receiving cards boosts morale especially for those deployed.

“Exchange gift cards are a great way to ensure troops are able to get what they want,” said Chief Master Sgt. Helm, noting that there are 80 store facilities and more than 160 food vendors from Afghanistan to the United Arab Emirates in contingency locations.

For nearly 116 years, the Exchange has gone where the troops go, and these cards go as well. Americans who don’t personally know a deployed soldier but want to help can purchase cards at the Exchange online site, www.shopmyexchange.com. Midway down the page is the heading “Shop Online” and tabs to the right; click on “Support Your Troops,” and under “Don’t Know a Person to Send a Gift To?” The site shows six military charities, ranging from the American Red Cross to the USO.

No matter where shoppers celebrate summer fun, it’s easy to help our defenders of freedom — our troops — with global calling cards and gift cards.

Any American can send gift or calling cards by logging on to https://shop.aafes.com/gcs/default.aspx or by phoning the Exchange at 800/527-2345.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a joint command and is directed by a Board of Directors, which is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff. The Exchange has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases, please visit http://www.shopmyexchange.com.

• Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republican and vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has introduced legislation that would track the effectiveness of Veterans Affairs education programs.

“Billions of taxpayer dollars are being used for education programs for our nation’s veterans,” Mr. Bilirakis said. “While I believe these programs provide valuable and necessary resources, we must be able to track the progress and success of the post 9/11 GI Bill to ensure that we are spending money in the most effective and efficient manner while affording our military heroes an education.”

H.R. 2274 would require an annual report from the VA that includes the number of credit hours completed, the number of degrees earned, and the employment status and average income of veterans who use the GI Bill. The Secretary of Defense would be required report on the GI Bill’s impact on recruiting and maintaining a well-qualified military.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.