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Military Commissaries Facing Budget Axe Once Again?

Service member shopping at a commissary.
Defense Commissary Agency
Service member shopping at a commissary.

Military commissaries would have to shut their doors to shoppers by up to two days a week, under a draft Defense Department budget document obtained by the Military Times.

The document lists proposed cuts to the Defense Commissary Agency's budget for fiscal 2016:

[T]he Defense Commissary Agency [must]... meet a DoD mandate to come up with $322 million in annual savings — nearly one-fourth of DeCA's annual baseline budget of $1.4 billion.

To do so, Tribune News Service reports:

[D]ays of operation would be reduced at 183 of the 241 commissaries. The number of employees at each store would be reduced by an average of six, to 45.

The Department of Defense wouldn't comment on the Military Times story, but Tom Gordy, president of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, didn't hesitate to give his opinion. Gordy explained:

"This is a death knell for commissaries...

"If it moves forward, it's an indication that DoD is saying, 'We'll no longer provide this benefit — it's a business.' This is not good for military families."
This isn't the first time military commissaries have faced major cuts. As Home Post previously reported, in February 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced taxpayer subsidies to stateside commissaries would be slashed by $200 million a year for the next five years.

The proposed cut in subsidies would have reduced the discount service members get at commissaries from 30 percent to 10 percent.

However, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted in July 2014 to restore $200 million.