Commissaries Closing?

My friend and colleague Amy Bushatz posted yesterday about the possibility of commissaries being closed.  In Pentagon Proposes Plan To Gut Commissary’s Budget, Amy explains the Department of Defense plan to reduce the commissary funding.  Such funding pays for staff, operating costs, and transportation of goods to overseas locations.

If the funding is cut, then operations would have to be cut as well.  Eventually, stores would be closed.  After enough stores close, the commissary will lose the economic clout that allows it to negotiate great prices and support from manufacturers.  It would be a downward spiral from there.

This would obviously be a huge loss of benefit to military families and retirees.  While it is true that you can sometimes find better prices on some items off base, the commissary has always provided a solid balance of low prices and one-stop shopping convenience.  For the solo-parenting spouse of a deployed servicemember or the no-longer-able-to-shop-all-over-town retiree, the commissary is the right place for shopping.  And then there are the overseas customers who would struggle with language, products, quality control and price if forced to shop on the economy.

The closing of the commissaries would be yet another major breach of faith by our government and the Department of Defense.  I understand that there is nothing in an enlistment contract that guarantees commissary privileges, but it has become a universally understood part of the total military compensation package.

Please continue to be aware of these recommended changes as they are occurring, and contact your legislators if you feel so moved.


About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • jerry

    Raise the prices,but don t close them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bob

    Before doing this drastic closing of theCommissary Store, lets find ways to keep it running. One thing I would suggest is to raise the surcharge which is currently 5%to probably make it self supporting similar to the Post Exchange

    • Dee

      Its already 6%

  • Matthew

    I like how every time there is a planned cut to personnel benefits, it states the pentagon, who in the pentagon? I’m sure it is not the pentagon making these statements it is someone in the pentegon. Lets do some real reporting and find out specifically who that someone is.

  • guest

    why do we never hear how the pay and benefits of those in the house senate and White House will be effected by budget cuts

  • Dawn

    Hey Washington! How about you take a pay cut. Stop taking the benefits from the people who fought for all of our freedom. While the working people were
    furlowed you still recieved a paycheck. Find another way.

  • George Dinsmore

    That because they think they are above and beyond the scope of real Americans

  • Andy

    I really like when the government needs to make cuts lets go after the military, pay cuts, retirement, health care, commissary, and so on. Every time that military is cutting back on the number of soldiers deployed, because the champagne against terrorists is coming to an end, that’s when the flags go to signal the government to take everything away from soldiers. When I came back from Vietnam in 69, pour government turned their backs like we never existed. People would not look me in the eyes when I came back. Needless to say I still get mad thinking about it.

  • Myron Birdwell

    I am so sick & tired of hearing how Congress wants to cut military waste. There is no waste except for what you IDIOTS created. Spent 35 years serving this great country now you come up with another way to screw us. Have you ever considered the fact that the main reason comissaries are having fewer sales is that you have allowed military members to chose, live on base or off. Biggest percentage chooses off base, so why drive back on base when you have local markets to patronize?? Same thing goes for housing, live off base or on base, I can draw my housing allowance & in most cases a VHA (Veralbe Housing Allowance) if I choose off base. So now we have homes setting empty on base & deteriorating because lack of occupancy. Same goes for Barracks. Wake up you IDIOTS & correct the mistakes you have made, do not blame the uniforms. By the way, people who wear or have worn the uniform are “TRUE AMERICANS” who care for the USA, unlike those who wear three piece suits & call themselves Congressman, Senators & President. Spend one term in office & walk away with a lifetime pension, what a JOKE you all are.

  • Melvin Merritt

    I have spent 30 years in the Military (US Army), and seen all benefits taken away a little at a t time. First it was the dental care, and now there are other things going on that is just down right sickening. I entered the military at 17 years of age (May 1954), at that time we were told that time we were told that dental care would be ours for life upon retiring, of course the reason they were able deny that they said that the Recruiters did not have the authority to promise anything. However they knew that this was being told to us but no action was ever taken to correct it until the decision to take it away was decided. Typical Government strategy, right I served in Korea and Vietnam, what am I getting from it (Agent Orange) maladies and a lot of broken promises. Congressman, Senators and Presidents get off your behinds and correct this wrong doings!!

  • bent

    In Spain (Rota) .commissary benefits for retirees were eliminated in 1988. I don´t know why,but it happened. I´ve seen republican and democrat administrations dodge this issue. We spend hundreds of millons of dollars here maintaining the base and employing thousands of workers,and I just can´t believe that retirees can´t use the commissary because of an administrative error in the treaty of friendship and cooperation between Spain and the United States. Should an administrative error y affect retirees for twenty-five years? Could this really be caused by apathy on the part of our elected officials,or even worse a breach of faith with the men and women who have served the country ? I´m for bringing this to the attention of people who are on active duty. They deserve to know what to expect when they retire.

    • Kate

      As I understand it, the restrictions on the Rota commissary are the result of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). As you probably know, the US government has a SOFA with each country in which we have military bases or posted service members. The SOFA delineates every nuance of every interaction between the two countries. I’m not sure why the Spain SOFA does not authorize commissary privileges to all commissary patrons, but it does not apply only to retirees. Active duty service members who are not stationed at Rota are not authorized to utilize the commissary, either. I had not heard anything about administrative errors, and I find that explanation highly unlikely. SOFAs are carefully crafted documents in which each country presents their thoughts on each individual topic, and a workable agreement is negotiated. I imagine that Spain did not want the commissary to be available to anyone not actively posted to Rota, and that it wasn’t an issue on which they were willing to budge. As visiting forces, we can’t really force them to accept our desires. We are in the country at their pleasure.

      I do know that other countries have similar restrictions. In England, for example, retirees may shop at the commissary but they have to pay English taxes on their purchases. (I don’t know the details, but I do know a bit.)

      I believe that most active duty people are aware that overseas commissaries don’t necessary have the same eligibility guidelines as stateside commissaries. I’ve never been to Spain, and I was aware of their rules before your comment.

  • Marilyn Ham

    All I can think of with this proposal is I wonder if the American Grocers Association is promising the Democrats a hefty donation for revoking the support of commissaries. Someone in that chain is making something from this proposal.

  • Willie

    First pass a house bill that anyone elected in congress or in the senate who NEVER defended thier country by signing the dotted line to do so.
    These idiots in congress and senate are doing more harm to our country than good. Lower thier pay and remove all thier government benefits.
    .Its not the dems pushing for the closures it the republicunts that are..they hate for people to get any kind of benefits..unless it’s for them..then the story changes.


      Of all the post this one is right on! Cut their pay “NO” Cut their benefits “NO” they would have to be like every one else. But they are the Government and Deserve whatever they can take from us. Because We never do anything but com plane. It’s time we put people in office that are looking out for us, the voters. GET these LIFERS out of the Government!

  • Chuck Smith

    I am tired of these Blue ribbon panels recommending cuts to pay, benefits, etc for our military, active duty and retired, as well as Guards./Reserves. And what really aggravates me even more is the military associations that seem to support these hair brained ideas. You cannot balance the budget on the backs of the military. Why is this such a hard concept to comprejhend and understand?