Pentagon Cuts Military Families EARNED Benefits
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday the Pentagon’s budget includes a proposal to cut the $1.4 billion commissary funding by $1 billion over the next three years.
“Drastically cutting commissary funding will raise prices, cut military pay, and eliminate critical savings for military families”
“Drastically cutting commissary funding will raise prices, cut military pay, and eliminate critical savings for military families," said Candace Wheeler, spokesperson for The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits.
“Service members and their families are used to sacrificing for their country but they shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of balancing the budget by forfeiting their EARNED benefits,” added Wheeler.
“Commissaries are an integral part of the total compensation package for our military families,” said Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, President and CEO, Military Officers Association of America. “Cutting $1 Billion dollars would sharply reduce the 30% savings military members and families now experience. Customers will vote with their feet and shop elsewhere. This proposal is a back-door way to undermine the commissary benefit,” stated Ryan.
President Obama recognizes the importance of the commissary benefit, telling troops last summer that closing these stores: “is not how a great nation should be treating its military and military families.”
Although Secretary Hagel continues to emphasize the Pentagon is not closing any commissaries, military family advocates point out an important distinction.
“The focus MUST be on preserving the 30% savings, not simply on keeping stores open,” said Joyce Raezer, Executive Director, National Military Family Association. “If the savings disappear so will the customers and the response will be ‘See, they didn’t need the commissaries after all!’” warned Raezer.
A recent Military Times survey confirmed active duty families continue to rank the commissary as a highly valued benefit, and is highly used by enlisted families.
“I personally think it’s ridiculous that we’re going after something that saves a young lance corporal $4,500 a year,” said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett during yesterday’s Congressional hearing on quality-of-life issues.
“This benefit is even more important today in our current economy,” said John P. May, Executive Director, American Military Society.
Commissaries are part of the solution, not part of the problem with our Nation’s budget challenges – providing a great return on every dollar spent to provide this benefit. Commissaries also provide vital employment for veterans, military spouses, and persons with disabilities; and help promote healthy lifestyles – all major Administration initiatives.
“We hope Congress recognizes the importance of the commissary benefit and continues to support its mission," added May.
“If we keep cutting important benefits, I fear one day Americans will wake up and discover draft cards in the wallets of their children,” said Jack Du Teil, Executive Director, U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association.
#SaveOurBenefits represents 2 million military families, veterans, persons with disabilities, employees, and concerned citizens who are working to shape polices impacting our nation’s ability to keep a healthy and vibrant military resale system, and protecting these critical EARNED benefits. Join us!