Protecting our Commissary Savings
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.
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Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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