Closing Commissaries in 2015 Hurts San Diego Military Families

Pentagon leaders have been trying to comply with the mandatory budget cuts and a possible solution to save money is a closure of all U.S. military commissaries in 2015. Military commissaries provide groceries and household items to active duty troops and retirees at a 30 percent discount.

In San Diego County alone there are six commissaries, including one of the top stores in overall revenue in 2010.

Due to the major cost-cutting 2011 Budget Control Act, defense officials are looking at a $50 billion annual budget cut for the next decade. Pentagon spokeswoman Joy Crabaugh reported, “The secretary of Defense has made it clear on numerous occasions that all cost-cutting efforts need to be on the table.”

United States commissaries receive $1.4 billion in government subsidies, allowing them to mark up groceries 5 percent. Of the total 178 commissaries, there are six in San Diego County. Two are located on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, one is at the North Island Naval Air Station, another is at the Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, one is at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and an additional commissary is at the Naval Base San Diego. Last year alone these commissaries generated around $260 million in sales.

In addition to military members and families depending on U.S. commissaries for household goods and groceries, approximately two-thirds of commissary employees are military spouses, family members or veterans.

Decisions will be made soon in regards to the 2015 federal budget. The Obama administration will release the final verdict in January or February, which will conclude the debate over commissary closures.

Photo Credit: Ernesto Andrade