Protecting our Commissary Savings

service member shopping

Remember when we told you that losing the budget battle doesn’t mean we’ve lost the war? Well, it’s time for the next battle.

Military.com reported January 22 on an upcoming Department of Defense (DoD) budget provision calling to close stateside commissaries over a three year period. Since then, military leaders have stated that commissaries will not be closed, but we know that they are still looking to find savings in the commissary budget and where there is a will there is a way.

So, military families must continue to fight for the 30% savings we depend on from our commissaries around the world. And, we must say loud and clear why commissaries and the savings we receive are so important and why we should all care about the commissary benefit.

Reductions in funding to the commissary would be yet another blow to compensation and benefits for the currently serving and those who have earned the right to shop at the commissary as deferred compensation. What’s worse: these cuts to compensation are being made without waiting for the report from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC), mandated by Congress to take a holistic view of all aspects of compensation.

Dollar for dollar, the commissary appropriation provides a bigger benefit to more members of the entire military community than any other DoD expenditure. The loss of the 30% savings military families receive by shopping at the commissary will be a severe blow to many families. A military family of four saves $4,500 a year when regularly using the commissary. Multiply that average savings by the number of military families who use the commissary and you see how effectively and efficiently the $1.4 billion is used.

Why would DoD want to eliminate a benefit people love when it only has to kick in a portion of the cost? The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) estimates customers receive $2 of savings for every dollar put in by the government. What a deal for the government, the taxpayers, and military families!

There's been a lot of talk about the loss of purchasing power for the average working-age retiree because of the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) caps—an estimated $80,000 for a retired E-7. What about the lost purchasing power when a military family no longer has the 30% commissary savings? Spread the loss of that purchasing power over the course of a career—active duty and retired—and military families will be hurting.

It's a deep hit to currently serving families when coupled with lower pay raises this year. An E-5 is receiving $242 less this year because of the 1% pay raise rather than the 1.8% they should receive to remain on par with private sector increases.

And, oh by the way, given the lower pay raise, which will eventually translate into lower retired pay, and the COLA reductions, our families need the commissary savings even more than ever.

C’mon Congress, #KeepYourPromise!

We believe there will be resistance in Congress regarding this proposal, and military associations will certainly mobilize in full force to help Congress understand the value of the commissary savings. We will do our part by urging Congress to allow the MCRMC to weigh in with its recommendations before this decision is made.

There’s not much time—We need your help!

Raise your voice against this attack on military compensation. Let DoD leadership, the White House, and Members of Congress know how important the commissary is to your family’s financial well-being.

Call your Congressional Leader, email them, or send them a letter; personalized letters with information unique to your military family are best.

Use a zip code search to find your Representatives and Senators

You can also tweet your Members of Congress or send them a Facebook message. Here is a list of U.S. House of Representatives social media accounts and U.S. Senate social media accounts.

We want to hear from you - tell us what you think below! 

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Comment: What bugs me is that a lot of research on family incomes now a days is based on both parents working and collecting income, BUT i know as a constantly moving military spouse that is hard to do. When you move so often it's really hard to have a full time career, especially when your spouse gets deployed. I'm not saying it's impossible and hats off to those spouses who do have a great career. As soon as a potential employer hears that you are a military spouse, all they hear is you will be leaving at some point and how can you get a corporate job with that in mind. Are they even thinking about these kinds of things when they decide to take and take more away from us?
Submitted by: stephPNW on February 5, 2014
Comment: We are planning on moving near a Military base when we fully retire to help us live on a limited budget. We would hate to have to change those plans. It might even mean working even longer.
Submitted by: eyewonit on February 3, 2014
Comment: Enough is enough. My husband retired from the Navy after serving his country for 20 years and this is the thanks. I am sick and tired of our heros not getting the respect they deserve. We can no longer let the powers that be keep chipping away at our benefits. We need our commissary. The people making these decisions have never served a day, know nothing about military life, and really could care less about us. Keep your hands off of our benefits. We shop at our commissary all the time and it is a lifesaver. God Bless all of you who are standing up to these idiots. Lets continue to stick together and fight for what is ours.
Submitted by: Jazzlady on January 30, 2014
Comment: A true slap in the face! My husband spent 24 years serving his country, to be afforded the benefits that is rightly due to him and others. Many times he have been deployed and station away from family and under compensated for the workload and dedication. Now, you have persons that have never served a day in the armed forces to try to take away our benefits. There are some military families living below poverty level. The commissary is a must for them. Save our benefits!
Submitted by: MC on January 28, 2014
Comment: We use the commissary because it does save us money so we can keep on budget. PLUS our base isn't attached to a town so we would have to drive a bit to get into town for a grocery store or even walmart... and not everything is cheaper at walmart.
Submitted by: Becky on January 25, 2014
Comment: We wound like to keep our commissary open. For us retired and active military is all we have.
Submitted by: Frank on January 24, 2014
Comment: I wonder which stores are lobbying Congress for this action!
Submitted by: SFC OBIE on January 24, 2014
Comment: 30% savings? I don't think I ever saved that much at the commissary. In fact, the Wal Mart near base usually had better prices for necessities. I actually don't think cutting the commissaries in stateside, non-rural areas is a bad thing.
Submitted by: formermarinespouse on January 24, 2014
Comment: Why does it feel like Retirees and Military are fronting on how to save money. Does anyone really think that we make/made tons of money. Our scarifies to do a job not many would do is not being acknowledge. It feels as if we get penalized for being a soldier. I ask that you please stop and think and consider us for once. Please don't take away what little benefits we have. It's survival at this point.
Submitted by: wendycris on January 24, 2014
Comment: Really if you want to make cuts start at the top. Leave the men and women alone that protect this country! And allowes you Government people who sit behind a desk and act like whinny children fighting over nothing but how to mess things up. I'm an American. I pay taxes. I support our military. I do not support our Government on issues like this!
Submitted by: Cindy on January 24, 2014
Comment: It has already been stated that Military members are already under pay in comparison as the cilivain sector! This is something that we and many feel as if this privilege have been earn! It is a shame that our wounded warriors and veterans are being faced with such a financial hardship! It is the main place that veterans can go and the military enviroment is pure esprit de corps! It is one of the few benefits that actually help the service member maintain a cost of living! My husband and I would find it to be a hardship to not have it availble! Please help in keeping our commissaries open!
Submitted by: VICnVA on January 23, 2014
Comment: Been in for almost 26 years and rarely shopped at the Commissaries. We did a lot of comparison shopping and saved money shopping at Walmart, SAMs and Costco. For me I will not miss them.
Submitted by: Ak7 on January 23, 2014
Comment: I think its wrong to take the privilege away from the Retires and the Men and Women who are Serving,,'from way back when it was part of the incentive ,,for honesty it would be right to take it,,'the Govt word"..Please take care of the People in the Services and the ones that have Retired serving, Thank - you!! Sincerely....
Submitted by: Jean on January 23, 2014
Comment: I'm an active duty military wife of 14 years & a mom to two. My husband & I religiously shop at our commissary for everything. I make recipes & buy brands that I find at the commissary. My motto is, if I can't get it from the commissary then we don't need it. I don't go to Wal-Mart or Lincoln grocery stores to buy anything else. I'd miss my commissary. Please don't take it away.
Submitted by: soldiersgirl on January 23, 2014
Comment: This is so wrong!!! It's hard enough to raise a family in the military, now you're taking away our benefits AND food?!
Submitted by: Taters on January 23, 2014
Comment: We choose our retirement home based on commissary locale at Macdill. If we had to buy at Publix, whole foods all the time our budget wld go bust.
Submitted by: Katherine on January 23, 2014
Comment: Awesome, more working families on food stamps.
Submitted by: ChenaBabe on January 23, 2014
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