As the economy struggles to rebound, there are many government programs that will need to be trimmed down *****or***** eliminated completely. The defense department’s budget is not exempted from the reductions, and neither are the programs that affect the members of the DOD and their families.
But military families recently dodged a bullet, after the Senate budget panel voted to restore $200 million in cuts from commissaries.
Base commissaries are essentially supermarkets. The program is run by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which falls under the DOD. Commissaries sell basic food and household goods, most of which can also be found at the Base Exchange (which is more like a Wal-Mart). Commissaries are different from exchanges in that they try to offer the same products to service members and military families, no matter where they are in the world, at a subsidized price.
While civilians who are unfamiliar with commissaries may see the program as a handout, most military families see commissaries as part of their income, and one of the benefits that caused them to jointhe military. Service members don’t make much in the way of base pay. In order to make ends meet, most military families rely on the other military benefits, including Base Allowance for Housing (BAH), subsidized on-base gas stations, military banking centers, base exchanges and commissaries. The DeCA estimates that the average military family saves more than $4,000 per year by shopping at the commissary.
It takes an estimated $1.4 billion each year to operate 178 commissaries located within the U.S. and the additional 67 commissaries located overseas. Last year, there were talks of eliminating commissaries completely. The Senate budget panel recently voted on whether *****or***** not to cut $200 million from the program, which the DeCA estimates would have cost military families approximately $1,500 per year in higher prices.
The commissary has not been saved for good. The panel only agreed to put off cuts for one year.
Civilians might question why service members don’t just do their shopping in town. But service members and their families sacrifice so much, and in reality, earn so little, that these benefits are not perks, they are necessities. Saving money by shopping at the commissary helps military familiesafford a better life… one that they have truly sacrificed for and deserve.
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Military Connection: Commissary Cuts Postponed 1yr: By Debbie Gregory