Ever since I arrived in Hawaii, I’ve noticed something about the way the Navy Exchange (NEX) operates. Normally, a military exchange checks the ID cards of all patrons to ensure that only military members shop there. This is in addition to having to show your ID to actually get on base. The commissary (military grocery store) is supposed to do this also. But guess what? The NEX doesn’t do that in Hawaii, at least not consistently.
Every day, you can drive into the NEX parking lot and spot all the non-military people at the store. In a row of say, 20 cars, at least 8 will not have a military sticker in the window. Based on that alone, between 1/3 and 1/2 of the people at the NEX aren’t supposed to be there.
But this NEX is different. It’s not on-base. Every other base I’ve been too, even other branches, have their exchange within the confines of the base fence. The Hawaii NEX is actually located down the road from the Pearl Harbor base; it may be military property but it’s not gated or guarded. So it’s quite easy, and understandable, for non-military people to end up there by accident. But you would think that people who’ve lived here a while would learn that it’s a military installation and therefore they can’t go there.
But it gets worse. The food court is supposed to be open to the public because you don’t need a military ID to go in there. Though I don’t agree with it, it would explain the non-military cars in the parking lot. And of course the NEX won’t turn down the extra money generated by allowing non-military to eat at the food court.
But the people still get into the NEX and commissary, even if they aren’t supposed to. I’ve seen the ID checkers not asking for the IDs of certain individuals (I assume they are friends or relatives). I’ve heard stories from other military people who have heard the ID checkers tell their friends which cashier wasn’t checking IDs either. And the people they let in are quite obviously local; many times they don’t even look like they are military (haircut, facial hair, out of shape, etc.). I’m not claiming to be racist but they do seem to card every non-Islander person going in, so it makes me suspicious about how they operate.
My wife told me the last time she went there, the ID checker must have been new because he demanded the ID of everyone going in. When a lady was cruising past him, he stopped her and asked to see her ID. She complained, saying she never had to show her ID before. When he insisted, she showed him her driver’s license, which of course isn’t valid for entry. He stated she had to have a military ID to enter and again she complained, stating that she “forgot” her ID at home and that it was no big deal. The funny thing is, if she was truly military, she is required to carry her military ID with her and would have shown it at least a few times to get in. Plus, she just admitted that she had never been carded before which they only do to locals; all obvious military people show their IDs without question because we know the rules. We have to do it everywhere else in the military so we don’t bitch about it.
My wife also mentioned that they are starting to look at both sides of the ID cards now because there have been quite a few instances of people forging military IDs to get inside. Of course the big question is, have they actually implemented a complete 100% ID check like they’re supposed to or is it just on an individual basis?