Military Families’ Commissary Benefit Threatened

Military families consistently tell us how much they value their Commissary and Exchange privileges. Families rely on the savings they get by shopping at the Commissary, and for families stationed overseas, the Commissary allows them to enjoy products from home that would otherwise be unavailable or unaffordable. The National Military Family Association has long worked to promote and protect these critical benefits to military families’ quality of life.

Knowing how important the Commissary is to military families, we are increasingly concerned about potential threats to this benefit. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has recently written a report about Department of Defense spending, The Department of Everything, which specifically targets the subsidy provided to the Commissaries by the federal government. This subsidy, about $1.5 billion per year, is used to pay for Commissary operating costs. This in turn allows the Commissary to keep its prices low. Eliminating the subsidy, as Senator Coburn proposes, would force the Commissary to raise its prices to make up for the loss of federal funds. Currently, military families who shop at the Commissary save more than 30% on their groceries. Without the Commissary subsidy, families will see those bills go up.

Commissaries will also potentially be affected by sequestration. Unless the President and Congress are able to reach a debt reduction agreement by January 2, government funds provided to the Commissary will drop by 9.4%. In order to absorb this loss of funding, Commissaries may be forced to reduce hours, cut services, or lay off some employees. This is especially concerning because so many Commissary employees are affiliated with the military, either family of active duty members or military retirees, retiree spouses or military veterans. Many employees would see work hours and, therefore, incomes cut.

We urge you to let Congress know how much you value your Commissary!

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Comment: Commissary privileges are a valued asset to the military way of life. I am outraged that any Senator would even think about eliminating the subsidy which allows our Commissaries to keep their prices low. We need the subsidy and without it, it would make for a harship on many of our lower enlisted soldiers and their Families.
Submitted by: on December 7, 2012
Comment: Our family of 4 is solely supported by our E-6 enlisted service member and we barely get by as it is. We count on our commissary as one of the benefits of being a military family. Closing our commissary (NCBC Gulfport) would be fiscally devastating to our family. Use of the Commissary is supposed to be a benefit to compensate for a service member and military families whose income is less than $50,000!
Submitted by: Kelly Moore on December 7, 2012
Comment: Please, I urge you to Support our military and our military benefits which are so important to the moral and welfare of all those who serve and go into harms way. Veterans depend on their military benefits and have fought to defend our country. Our military deserve the very best as they give their very best to defend our country and the future of our country for our children and grandchildren.
Submitted by: on December 6, 2012
Comment: Senator Coburn seems to have overlooked a major benefit of the commissaries. While this report has focused solely on the monetary portion spending, it has been forgotten that as a large employer, a good number of their employees are military spouses, retirees and teenagers. Military spouses needing jobs and having difficulty finding jobs due to frequent moves, instability and discrimination are in need of services like this! The commissaries also help some retirees make ends meet, and help a teenager get their first job. Raising a service member's pay will not alieviate these issues! May I also point out that while big box stores may be able to compete with the commissaries' prices- they are limited in their selection and in some cases are not only NOT a good deal, they are NOT a good deal on things we do not need!
Submitted by: KAM on December 6, 2012
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