My friend and colleague Amy Bushatz posted yesterday about the possibility of commissaries being closed. In Pentagon Proposes Plan To Gut Commissary's Budget, Amy explains the Department of Defense plan to reduce the commissary funding. Such funding pays for staff, operating costs, and transportation of goods to overseas locations.
If the funding is cut, then operations would have to be cut as well. Eventually, stores would be closed. After enough stores close, the commissary will lose the economic clout that allows it to negotiate great prices and support from manufacturers. It would be a downward spiral from there.
This would obviously be a huge loss of benefit to military families and retirees. While it is true that you can sometimes find better prices on some items off base, the commissary has always provided a solid balance of low prices and one-stop shopping convenience. For the solo-parenting spouse of a deployed servicemember or the no-longer-able-to-shop-all-over-town retiree, the commissary is the right place for shopping. And then there are the overseas customers who would struggle with language, products, quality control and price if forced to shop on the economy.
The closing of the commissaries would be yet another major breach of faith by our government and the Department of Defense. I understand that there is nothing in an enlistment contract that guarantees commissary privileges, but it has become a universally understood part of the total military compensation package.
Please continue to be aware of these recommended changes as they are occurring, and contact your legislators if you feel so moved.