We recently published an article, “Commissary Closures: It’s All or Nothing,” and received quite a bit of feedback on it, especially about commissary privatization. Emotions run high when the topic turns to the potential of commissary privatization or even worse, closure.
Don’t panic; your commissary benefits are currently safe.
The government is however trying to do away with the cost associated with the operation of the commissary. After our article was published, a lot of MilitaryShoppers readers voiced their opinions. Here is what they said:
Char Johnson said
Privatization is NOT the answer! How many benefits do you think taking away from our military (active or retired) will be acceptable! What happened to honor and trust, something our members of Congress don’t seem to recognize? I am a military wife of a retiree. I/we travel to the commissary and exchange at least three times per month, and we utilize our privileges to the max. Don’t take away something that has been earned and promised. Start taking away from those who vote against what we have and what our soldiers have earned.
Mrs. Johnson makes an excellent point, where will the cutting of benefits end? Service members are promised benefits when they join the military. That is a recruiting tool. If men and women are willing to put their lives on the line, getting a few benefits for themselves and their families make a big difference.
Many have already seen significant cuts to what they were promised.
Tricare has had several changes over the years, many of which are not ideal. Retirement benefits have shrunk in size and increased in cost. Education benefits have improved, and the exchange and commissaries have remained a constant. Service men and women, along with their families, have earned these benefits and were promised them.
Now the government wants to save money by taking away some of the $1.3 billion annual Department of Defense subsidy the commissary receives. Millions of dollars have been spent researching how to keep the commissary running without government funds. Many options have been considered including commissary brand products, commissary privatization and variable pricing. So far, none of these are the answer. In the meantime, military families keep shopping at the commissary.
The majority of service members and their families shop at the commissary. It might be just once a year for some but for many, it’s multiple times a month. The slogan “it’s worth the drive” is true. I no longer live near a big commissary, even though we are active duty. The tiny 6-isle commissary 35 minutes away is worth the drive just for the savings on meat alone.
Daryel Covington also makes the drive. He said
I travel about 150 miles round trip sometimes twice a month! BTW, I’m a 70-year-old retiree and need the saving! And no I will not support a price increase nor could I support privatization.
Mr. Covington travels to the commissary to save money and realizes that if the prices go up, the commute won’t be worth it. For some, saving money isn’t the main reason they shop at the commissary though.
William C Simmons said
I am a retired airman who served 26 years. My wife and I are today over 80 years old and shop the commissary once every week. Our children have long left home and we live alone. The commissary is a great convenience to us. Of course we could shop local grocery stores; it would not be the Military Family we loved for so many years.
I share the same sentiment with Mr. Simmons. I love saving money of course, but I mostly like to shop at the commissary because of the military community or family feeling.
I grew up doing our weekly grocery shopping with my mom at the commissary and now I do it with my son. While the Simmons don’t have any children of their own left at home, they feel like they can still shop at the commissary and have that military family feeling.
If commissary privatization is realized, that sense of family may get pushed out of the way for corporate profits.
That’s what all of this comes down to, money. The government wants to save money and we just want to save our benefit. They have spent millions of dollars researching how to save money. Commissary privatization isn’t the answer.
Charles leaves us with this thought. He said
The amount the commissary gets subsidized is a small price given to our active duty troops/retirees and their families for the many contributions and sacrifices they gave to our country. So much more funds could be saved by eliminating the enormous careless [government] spending.