Commissary cut proposal

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Boozebin, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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  2. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    The commissary is still a really good benefit. It has its drawbacks like all things- but for the folks who are on constrained budgets it is a big and valuable benefit. If the PX died tomorrow, nobody would attend the funeral- but the commissary is really a valuable deal that directly impacts the take home pay of the lowest paid (and most numerous ) segment of the military population. Undoubtedly we will get some Junior Officers who post about how they never used the commissary because of some reason or another and therefore it is neither valuable nor much of an incentive- - but I don't believe that you would get that answer if you went and asked the married E7's and below what their opinion is. And if you happen to live in some out of the way place like Honolulu - the Commissary is what keeps the dependants of those paygrades off WIC.
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I think in certain locations like Hawaii and overseas the commissary saves money and is much needed. There are certain items, mostly meat, that I found cheaper stateside at the commissary than on the local market. The rest of it I didn't think saved any money and even though I was a single JO I was one of those who clipped coupons (free money) and knew the prices at all the local stores. The produce I always found sub par at the commissary. I think most of our families when I was stationed stateside shopped alot more at Costco or Sam's club as they found the prices cheaper than at the commissary. Be interesting to see a few side by side comparisons of families and see these costs.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    You may want to review a married E-7's pay these days. It's well above the poverty line..... and there are many below the poverty line who don't have access to a commissary.

    In the Coast Guard you get pretty used to not having a commissary (yes, even the E-7 and below folks). There's a tiny little bit with the Coast Guard Exchange, but not typically a full commissary. Of course, some Coast Guard bases or units are located on larger Navy or Air Force bases (Key West, Little Creek and San Diego come to mind for me), so there's that chance.

    And of course, there are good deals too.

    Commissarries are easy target because, like it or not, the same things available at the commissary are available elsewhere and, like it or not, there are plenty of examples of people making less money than junior enlisted members of the military, who can somehow survive. Not all, of course. Some don't live within their means, have too many children, broken households and spotty employment, but there are enough people out there to take some of the wind out of that argument.
     
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  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    If I read the article correctly, the stores are cutting hours by 20%. The hours at the bases we were stationed at were 9-7 T- Sat. Sunday 12-7. Cutting 11 hours won't be hard at all, nor a hardship on the military members.
    ~ They have never been open on Mondays.

    Close it on Tuesday and close at 6 instead of 7 and there you go! Let's be real, at least for AF, everybody leaves the base by 5, the only people shopping at 6 are those that live on base, otherwise they are paying electricity and wages to remain open for 2 more hours.

    The only time closing on Tuesday really will become a hardship is if the 1st is on Monday. It would mean they can't go shopping until Weds. when before they would do it on Tuesday.

    IMPO, the commissaries overseas, including AK and HI need to remain, and some bases that many would consider a state side remoypte, such as, Laughlin, Mt. Home, but places like No. Va. really don't need a commissary at every base. ( Meyers, Bolling, Andrews, Belvior)
    ~~~ We are retirees and I have not gone to a Commissary in years. Between my VIC card for Harris Teeters and double coupons I see no reason to go to the commissary. Than again, I have not checked the prices of formula and diapers, which as other posters have pointed out the commissary is a god send for those products.

    LITS,
    I would disagree with you on one factor, at least for the commissaries I have been to....many have unique products. Belvoir has a lot of German and Asian products that you will not find in your local Giant, Safeway or Harris Teeters. Can you survive a without them? Yes, but for a military spouse that is now stateside for the first time and needs a particular ingredient for a favorite family recipe, the commissary might be their only option.
     
  6. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    What about the people that work there? Once again the last time I was at one was 20 years ago but it used to be dependents working at the Commissary. Is it still this way or is it contracted now or is it that my old mind is playing tricks on me?

    My spouse losing hours/job and losing the commissary would be a bit of a double whammy to the good old budget. Not that this isn't a reality outside of the military world and you'll figure out a way to survive it just would suck big time if my spouse lost a job and Safeway announced that they're increasing their prices by 30% the same day.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    World Market, Trader Joes, Amazon, etc etc etc. It may involve taking some time to look, but it can be done.
     
  8. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    You'd be surprised. There are plenty of people who don't work 0730-1630.
     
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  9. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Understand this is an internet forum, but when was the last time any folks openly agree to some sort of cut from the DoD budget? If nothing should be cut for the DoD, we either have a perfect system or something else. We should have more discussion on what to cut than why something shouldn't be cut.
     
  10. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    1. Stop paying contractors to work the gate at sometimes 3 times the salary.
    2. Don't make the Army buy 300 tanks it doesn't want.
    3. Find a way to stop these stupid "Contract Marriages" to collect BAH.
    4. Stop using one single travel agency to book airline tickets for cadets, soldiers to travel to training. Instead of paying $950.00 for a ticket from Seattle to San Diego when you can get the same ticket on your own for 1/3 of that cost.
    5. Extend the time between PCS (I think they're actually working on that one.
    6. Close the PX on bases that are next to towns that have the same shopping opportunities.
    7. Close the Commisary on Tuesday but keep the current hours, I agree, many work longer hours and would have a tough time making it there by 6:00
    8. Back to "Contractors", review the policy and utilize more of the existing military personal instead of paying the insane cost to contractors.
    9. Have intelligent discussions about balancing the cost of having the newest and greatest toys at any cost over maintaining operational costs.
    10. I don't know if this is still in effect, it's been a while since I was in, but get rid of the "Use it or Lose it" Budget system.
    11. Keep the 20 year retirement system but make it so you can't start collecting retirement for 10 years after you retire or age 52, which ever comes first.

    See I'm willing to discuss all kinds of cuts......but I get the point of your post.
     
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I say ditch the 20 year retirement…. but we've gone over that. I'd add "change the PCS move" process for contracted movers. They brag about the time they take to move people… all charged to the federal government.
     
  12. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I use the commissary regularly and find it to be a nice benefit overall. It has some areas it can improve, but in high cost of living areas it can be a nice break. If they need to reduce the hours I feel it could be done without much effect. As noted the NEX/PX etc is a different story, but now that they price match it makes it a better deal to price match and then get the tax-free benefit.
     
  13. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Some commissaries are open 7 days a week.

    It's a nice benefit, but one that isn't so meaningful in the days of Walmart and such. After the mysterious "surcharge" you might save 5%. That could easily be countered by a boost in BAS vice having the DOD running conus grocery stores.
     
  14. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Since we are listing... Sacred cows make the best burgers!

    1) Have one prep school for SA's instead of four
    2) End the madness with different BDUs, ACUs, ABUs, etc
    3) Have a single medical service for the military
    4) Have a single JAG corps
    5) etc etc etc

    And dozens of other consolidation efforts that I'm sure you can think of that could reduce cost with practically zero impact on capability, flexibility, or service levels. Let's start leveraging that under utilized well of efficiency/savings first... then discuss cuts to each branch's budget that result in reduced capability or readiness.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Raimius,

    Yes there are many that work swing or nights, but that doesn't mean they can't shop before they go to work or on their days off. My point was for all the years I used the commissary if I went shopping after 5 the store had no customers. I used to go at that time because I would drop the kids off for sports practices and I could get it done quickly because it was empty compared to going right after church on Sunday.
    ~ Sundays were mad houses, spouses would get in line to check out while the other spouse would run up and down the remaining aisles and get what else was left.

    I agree scout, one reason I no longer use the commissary is by the time I drive 20 minutes (gas) and pay the 5% surcharge, plus tip the baggers, I am really not saving a ton of money. If I shop wiseley by using coupons and buying what is their weekly specials I am exactly at the same cost or maybe even better off base.

    As far as the loss of jobs, again they are not talking about closing them, just reduce the hours, and that means a loss of jobs would be nominal. I know every job matters to every family, but we are not talking about 100s of jobs. Additionally, there will be a ripple effect. If the military members shop more on the economy than those stores will be hiring to handle the higher volume of customers.
     
  16. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Obtw, DoD is also cutting out renters insurance coverage for those members that live in onbase housing. It isn't a lot of money @250 a year, but it illustrates how they are now at the level of nickel and dining everything they can.
     
  17. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Two anecdotes to share that fit this current discussion...

    At one point during my service time, I ran into a Supply Officer who refused to order pens. I don't know if they are still the weapon of choice but the old "US Government" black Bic pens were omnipresent in my day. This guy felt his contribution to budget cuts would be to only order replacement ink cartridges not the pen! This is the same guy who refused to issue my men sleeping bags because he didn't want to pull them from stock and then reenter them into inventory later on. He held his position until I threatened to rearrange his facial features.

    Regarding the "use it or lose it" policy, one year in late September (Government fiscal year starts Oct 1) my Infantry Company was sent out to use up all our allotted munitions. My platoon spent an entire week throwing grenades all day/ night. Another platoon spent the week shooting machine gun ammo (M60, 7.62mm). Another was at the rifle range burning through ammo and smoke grenades. It was my first exposure to this ridiculous policy.
     
  18. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Here's an off the wall suggestion.... lease the PXs to national chain stores like Belks, Kohls, etc. They could make more money while reducing their costs. Plus, they could write in the lease that military members must have preferential employment.
    ~~ Non military members already have jobs on base so that is not an issue.
    ~~ Military members would shop there because they can get the same sales as the one in the mall 40 miles away.
    ~~ They could do that with the commissary too. I believe many of us agree the commissary is great for convenience, and unless a high COLA area you can get the same amount for a minimal difference in prices. Let Food Lion pay the operating costs.

    Believe it or not this is not a new idea for these stores, just a new twist. Back in the 90s when we went through BRAC, many developers went and purchased the entire base/post right out. They renovated the homes and became a gated community. The PX became a mini dept store. The hospitals were purchased and became multiple types of clinics with same day operation clinics. The golf course was maintained by HOA fees. The bases that were AF, also leased out the hangars.
    ~ When we went to Disney years after RAF Upper Heyford closed there was a British family next to us in line. We started talking and lo and behold they bought one of the homes on RAF Bicester( one of the housing areas) They said that they waited in line for 8 hours the day they went on sale and they had only 1 of 3 houses to choose from because the rest were all sold immediately. Tesco (grocery chain there) bought out the commissary. BP purchased the gas station and the shoppette was purchased by their version of 7-11.

    I know that a friend at a Marine Base said there is upheaval right now because they are now allowing retirees to stay or move into housing. I get military members being upset, but if houses are sitting empty because military members are opting to live off base, than it makes sense to me from a financial perspective.
    ~ Military members live in a bubble and do not think about the budget. If this was a corporation, Every vacancy equates to a loss on the balance sheet...eventually they either go bankrupt or try a new plan to stop the blood shed.

    Just saying impo, if they started looking outside the box, there maybe benefits that nobody saw prior. Be honest, if the PX/BX was converted to a Kohls orTarget, how many of you would shop there on Black Friday instead of going to the nearest mall? Most BXs are attached to the Commissary. Wegmens, Trader Joes have a research requirement and if SteinMart came in and their avg income meets the requirement than many military members would jump for joy to lose the commissary and gain them.

    JMPO as a spouse that stopped shopping on base.
     
  19. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Jcleppe just a few remarks

    #1 Gate guards. I agree, but the problem is deployment for AD members, thus the need for paying outside companies. If we need to go this way, than instead of having 4 lanes opened, have 3. Yes, it will take you 6-9 minutes more, but as a military member, like anyone else in the corporate world traveling to work, add it into your travel time.
    ~ Choose between Commissary and travel time.

    #5 Extend PCS. That might work for the Army, but the AF did that in the late 90s. They actually said you can homestead. The problem was those stationed at Eglin or Langley loved where they were stationed at and those at Mt. Home or Laughlin, not so much. It creates a clog in the system, especially for the rated world....AGAIN, talking AF.
    ~ They went back later on and said if you want to homestead, fine, just realize making rank will become difficult. Their polite way of saying MOVE! Some people didn't take the hint and the AF than upped the ante....don't move and learn how to spell R-E-M-O-T-E.

    # 8 Contractors and AD. I am not disagreeing with you, but I think your perception of their salary is incorrect. Many of our friends that retired out of the F15E and stayed at SJAFB, make maybe 10% more than they did when they were AD, and that includes their retirement pay. IOWS, their contractor pay + retirement = the salary they left.
    ~ Yes, there are contractors and GSs, like Bullet that the retirement pay is gravy, but remember Bullet works in DC, it is a recruitment tool. Plus, as we deploy our AD, somebody needs to be left behind to train the new blood. Do you keep the experienced members behind to train the new blood or do you deploy them? We are stretched very thin. The Army, AF and Marines are reducing their personnel roles.

    Want my opinion the biggest mistake the Obama administration did was convert contractor jobs to GSs. Bullet was with L3 Comm. His salary was slightly higher, but his bennies were not like now. When I say slightly higher, I mean 1% higher.
    ~ He has right now over 70 sick days and then he also has comp time and leave. We joke about it all the time...because he now is a GS he could retire 18-24 months out and collect the same paycheck. The other joke is since he is a GS, he basically could commit a crime and still be employed (think tenure), whereas if he was not forced to leave a s a contractor, they could have fired him. Additionally, because he is GS, they foot our insurance bill. L3 Comm footed not only that, but our 2nd retirement.
    ~~ I was not a happy camper when his job was forced into GS because we had an amazing insurance health plan, now knowing that Bullet could retire at 63 instead of 65 because the way the government works, I am more than fine!
     
  20. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Sounds very similar.

    While I was waiting for OCS I did a stint in Supply at the District Office. The end of the budget year was getting close and I started receiving large orders from a couple of the ships. I got a phone call from one of the Storekeeper Chiefs, he asked that the shipments be made in such a way that everything arrived in smaller boxes, he started asking how much some of the equipment weighed. I assumed it had something to do with how they would stow everything, when I asked he simply laughed and said "to be honest, most of this stuff will just be tossed off the deck when we're out to sea. I was a little shocked to say the least and asked what the hell he was talking about. The Chief said if they didn't spend all their budget, it would be cut for the next year. Just to give context, this was back in the mid 70's.

    That was my first introduction to "Use it or Lose it". I've been out for some time but heard they have tried to fix that issue, not really sure if the succeeded or not.
     

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