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A Promise Broken? Pentagon May Close Some Commissaries

Defense Commissary Agency

Service member shopping at a commissary.

Defense Department officials have promised for months that while budget cuts might mean higher prices at commissaries, the doors of the military grocery stores would remain open. Now, it seems some commissaries may close after all.

Stars and Stripes reports during a congressional hearing this week, Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, testified that raising prices at commissaries may ultimately lead to closures:

“It’s a possibility [but] I don’t know what the probability is.”

Interestingly enough, military families and Home Post readers predicted that raising prices would lead to closures as soon as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that taxpayer subsidies to stateside commissaries would be slashed by $1 billion.

Home Post reader Rachel Larsen Brody wrote on Home Post's Facebook page that raising prices at commissaries would eventually lead to their demise:

"...it will be too expensive to shop there, driving down patronage so that the decision to close them will be because nobody shops there anymore."

Indeed, back in February, the American Logistics Association (a nonprofit trade group) predicted the Pentagon's proposal to cut taxpayer subsidies to commissaries would lead to closed doors:

“Make no mistake: pulling the funding rug out from under these operations will shutter these stores over time.”

According to a 2013 study conducted by the Defense Commissary Agency, commissary shoppers currently pay 30 percent less for groceries than they would at supermarkets, club stores, drug stores, discount department stores, and even dollar stores.

The proposed cut in taxpayer subsidies would reduce that discount from 30 percent to 10 percent.

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