- The Washington Times
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to decrease the size of U.S. military commissaries, which will take a $1 billion hit over the next three years.

“Over three years we will reduce by $1 billion the annual direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, which now totals $1.4 billion,” Mr. Hagel said Monday, Military.com reported.

Critics equate the move to a de facto cut in military take-home pay.

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“Drastically reducing the commissary funding will raise prices and amount to a cut in pay for service members, veterans, and their families,” Candace Wheeler, spokesperson for the Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits, told the military website. “The savings commissaries provide are critical to helping military families make ends meet. Without them, families will be forced to make tradeoffs in their household budget — deciding between getting the car repaired, sending their kids to the school of their choice, or saving for college and their future.”

Mr. Hagel said during the announcement that commissaries would not be closing, but did not provide details on how the Defense Commissary Agency would recoup the budget shortfall.

“The question then becomes: how long will the patron be able to shop at the commissaries if there’s no savings?” Thomas Gordy, president of the Armed Forces Marketing Council, which represents brokers doing business with military stores, told Military.com. “At the end of the day this is a broken promise because it’s ending the non-compensation benefit. The benefit is not the store, the benefit is the savings, and they’ve taken that away.”

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