A few weeks ago we launched a poll telling you to pick your own commissary cuts. We laid out the options that are floating around the military policy world and let you tell us which one you like best. Then we pressed "publish" and waited.
According to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCMRC) report, the feedback they got through surveys and town hall events they hosted showed that, despite whatever pitfalls the system may have, service members and retirees overwhelming like their commissary. They like having it available. They believe it is an important part of their military benefits. And they don't want it to go away.
Nonetheless the MCRMC acknowledged that something must be done, so they suggested to Congress that the entire Exchange system and commissary be combined.
Still, you don't care. Here is what our poll showed as your preference for the commissary system:
The big three suggestions seriously up for consideration by Congress are combining the Exchange and commissary systems, making major changes to the commissary that results in higher prices or, as a matter of default, doing nothing.
The majority of you, at the time of this writing (the poll is still open -- we like to leave it that way) said "do nothing." And that's hardly surprising given how much we know you like using the system.
But two things about your responses did take me by surprise. First, that almost as many of you (again, as of this writing) want to combine the stores as want to do nothing, and that more of you are interested in getting rid of the system completely (except for rural and overseas areas) than are interested in raising prices and keeping it for everybody.
In the meantime, Congress has been holding hearings about all of these ideas and getting information from stakeholders as to what, in their estimation, would work best. And the information coming out on why combining them may be a terrible idea after all is, well, not encouraging. Combining would bring a price tag of $466 million, which would directly impact how much the exchange system is able to pass on to the military as MWR funding. And that doesn't sound nice.
Since not touching them doesn't seem likely, we're back to the wait and see game of Congress and the Defense Department where no idea is a good idea but something will be done anyway.