Navy Exchange (NEX) Guam has processed and delivered more than 1,500 remote orders to Sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) utilizing the Downrange Program.
The Downrange Program is a service developed to provide NEX shopping for Sailors who are unable to physically visit the store. The program originated at NEX Djibouti to take care of “downrange” troops in other parts of Africa.
“With the impact of COVID-19 restricting Sailors to quarters, the team here at NEX Guam modified the program to support Sailors in hotels and on ships,” NEX Guam Store Manager Chris Traxler said. “The Sailors are provided a catalog with some basic items but they can really request anything in the store.”
On March 27, the Roosevelt arrived at Apra Harbor. The Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier brought nearly 5,000 Sailors, thousands of whom are being housed on NBG and at Guam hotels amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Downrange Program is an integral part of the U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) Quality of Life (QOL) Task Force. The primary focus of the task force is to enhance the morale for the Sailors who are currently under isolation and quarantine.
“I am impressed and grateful for the phenomenal work NEX Guam is doing as part of the NBG Quality of Life Task Force,” NBG Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeffrey Grimes said. “The small comforts and pieces of home that the NEX Downrange Program brings to the fight are excellent reminders to the USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors that people care.”
According to Traxler, some of the most popular items being ordered are snacks, drinks, toiletries, and clothing as well as electronics, including laptops.
Sailors place their orders through email. Once the order is received by the NEX team, a sales associate takes the order and shops for the merchandise. The order is brought to the processing area where the payment is applied and then it is boxed. The items are then delivered to wherever the Sailor may be housed.
“Many of our team actually call the customer to see what they want and any substitutions,” Traxler said. “We have logged about 1,500 orders so far but have received over 7,000 emails. We estimate there are about 600 more orders to log and process.”
For Traxler and the NEX Guam team, this is just what they do each and every day for their military customers.
“The NEX has always been an integral part of the community and the Navy but during crisis such as COVID19, our support for the mission is clearly evident as we are the major source of food and laundry for the TR Sailors on the base, supporting sailors with the Downrange Program, and finally taking care of our Sailors, families and retirees here in Guam,” Traxler said. “Our team is always doing our best to go above and beyond for everyone we support.”