Allen B. West

Military commissaries now facing Hagel’s hatchet

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My first introduction to the military commissary system was as a teenager when my friend from church, Prince Woodbury, told us about the awesome job he’d landed at the Ft. Gillem commissary.

He was a bagger there and bragged about the tips he received, because baggers did not get a paid salary. We were automatically jealous and as soon as we could, caught the city bus and put in our applications to be baggers at Ft. Gillem and at Ft. MacPherson. Unfortunately I didn’t get one of those jobs but always appreciated those who were commissary baggers.

A military commissary is a part of tradition. It’s a place where Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and cCastguardsmen gather with their families, regardless of rank. It’s a place where military families and kids develop some fond memories, such as my wife Angela and our daughters did.

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However, according to a report in the Military Times:

Defense officials have asked the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to develop a plan to close all U.S. commissaries — about three-fourths of its stores.

The fact that defense officials want DeCA to draft a plan for how it potentially would carry out such a move is another sign of the heavy budget pressures weighing on the Pentagon as a result of sequestration.

That such a proposal would come from within DoD is “very concerning,” said Steve Rossetti, director of government affairs for the American Logistics Association. Commissaries are “one of the most valued benefits,” he said. “For what this costs the department, they get a huge return,” not only in terms of the benefit itself but in other factors such as jobs for military spouses, as about 30 percent of DeCA employees are spouses.

I find it unbelievable that military commissaries are being examined for closure while we just wasted $634 million on the failed Obamacare website, and the cost of Obamacare is now at $1.7 trillion. Our men and women in uniform, and their families, deserve every benefit, but instead the Obama administration feels it’s more important to expand the welfare nanny-state.

Again, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should be ashamed and embarrassed. First the inability to pay death gratuity benefits to families of our fallen warriors, and now this? It’s clear where President Obama focuses his priorities. Right now on every military installation worldwide, warrior families are in commissaries purchasing their Thanksgiving meal ingredients, kids are running down the aisles.. – for goodness sake, we owe them that much.

Please share with us your favorite commissary memory, and after Thanksgiving, let’s melt down the Pentagon and White House phone lines and demand the military commissaries remain.

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