Words by Mike Weisbecker.
The Department of Defense is looking to save money anywhere they can nowadays thanks to the sequestration enacted earlier this year. The news came out earlier this month that a plan to modify how the commissaries get monies or to outright shut down the stateside commissaries is apparently on the table.
For those of us stateside that have access to a commissary (active, guard & reserve, retiree) how often do you use this benefit? If you do not use it often, if at all, why don’t you use it?Would it impact your life significantly if DoD decided to shut down the one near you? For me personally it was always a matter of convenience stateside. On active duty, it was convenient to stop there on the way out the gate to grab my groceries for the next few days.
My lifestyle doesn’t include meal planning on a weekly/monthly schedule as some do. Now that I work in the non-military world, I don’t get near the one in my area as it isn’t on my commute to work. In fact, it is out of my way to go to the base near me. Another aspect is the layout and products the manager there makes available. It is an older facility that is very cramped and doesn’t have good traffic flow through the store. It also doesn’t have some of the product lines I was able to get at other commissaries (Boar’s Head deli products are the best, nothing else compares if you believe otherwise you are confused…)
One thing that will hurt initially is the loss of jobs if closing the stores is the option the government goes with. Many of the folks working there are retirees, dependents, and some in the local community that have no prior connection with the military. Will the hue and cry over the job losses keep this option off the table? The other two options the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has on the table are to raise the 5% surcharge to 10%, allowing the stores to sell beer, wine, and spirits along with health and beauty products at a profit, or raising the prices of all products 2-3% across the board. No matter which way DoD decides to go with this it will be a hard fight.
For what it’s worth, President Obama stated during a speech at a Marine base in August that closing the commissaries is not how the nation should be treating the military. The agency itself will be pushing back (no agency head wants to have their fiefdom reduced) as well as the suppliers to all the stateside stores. Plus the First Lady and Mrs. Biden have both been behind causes in regards to helping military families. And then getting this past the congressional delegations like California, Virginia, Washington & Texas which all have large military bases in their states may be more than DoD has the stomach for.