|(Editor’s note: “SPOTLIGHT” is a continuing series
about tenant activities and missions at Fort McCoy.)
What is it?
Associated Industries for the Blind (AIB) is Fort McCoy’s source for
equipment and supplies, which includes office supplies, cleaning
supplies, military/field training items and dining facility supply kits.
AIB is a non-profit agency of AbilityOne and National Industries for the
Kris Mize, a legally blind employee of Associated Industries for
the Blind, consolidates supply order lists she generated for
authorized customers at Fort McCoy. AIB is the base supply
center on the installation.
(Photo by Theresa Fitzgerald)
AIB opened a Fort McCoy base supply store in October 2001 when the
installation’s mobilization mission was assigned. Its customers are
government credit card purchase holders and government contractors.
Customers do not need to be located on Fort McCoy to purchase from the
installation’s base supply store. More than 38,000 items are available
for purchase from its website and are delivered on post or drop shipped
to customers. Purchase orders can be completed by walk-in, call-in, fax
and online. Items purchased using government purchase cards are tax
Nationwide, National Industries for the Blind’s members’ agencies
mission is to provide employment for people who are blind, visually
impaired or have severe disabilities, while at the same time providing a
service to the federal government. The AbilityOne organization employs
6,500 blind workers, with most in manufacturing. Seventy-five percent of
all AIB’s direct labor hours are performed by blind or visually impaired
employees. The Fort McCoy store employs three workers, one employee is
The base supply store on Fort McCoy stocks more than 1,000 items on its
shelves, most of these items are blind-made products. A sampling of
military field training products available at Fort McCoy includes
padlocks, duct tape, concertina gloves, batteries and suntan lotion.
Calculators, binders, steno pads, toner supplies and file folders are
just a few of the office supplies stocked.
The Fort McCoy store is one of 140 stores operating under AbilityOne
contracts on 140 military installations throughout the U.S.
What have they done?
AIB puts the handicapped worker high on the priority bar and provides a
clean and safe work environment for its employees.
AIB’s goal is to get customers competitive pricing for high-quality
inventory. The turn-around time for items in stock is same day; one to
three business days is necessary for products not in stock.
The Fort McCoy store was very successful during the installation’s
mobilization mission, effectively providing essential items needed for
units to complete their missions. AIB works hard to get customer
What do they have planned?
AIB’s goal is to continue to grow in knowledge on how to better support
units training on post.
To better serve units, AIB reached out to the Directorate of Plans,
Training, Mobilization and Security to obtain points of contact for
units scheduled to train here, then contacted unit supply sergeants and
assisted them in setting up an account. The items purchased in advance
were staged for pick-up upon the unit’s arrival, saving the government
time and money versus shipping items from home station. AIB also
implemented Saturday hours during the peak of the summer exercises to
further support units.
AIB now services units with items the Troop Issue Support Branch no
Why are they important?
AIB was created to allow blind, visually impaired or severely disabled
individuals to become employed members of society. Every purchase made
from AIB supports the employment of qualified blind or disabled
The Fort McCoy store provides a ready source of supplies, a one-stop
shop, performing the leg work to get the best product at the best price.
Garrison customers shop through the AIB store or catalog when
preparing orders before going to other vendors. An added benefit for on
post customers is free delivery of orders directly to the purchaser’s
For more information, call 608-388-2848 or visit the website
AIB Express (SSSC) hours of operation are: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-3
p.m. AIB will open on Saturdays during the summer months for training