WASHINGTON — U.S. commissaries could face severe cuts if Congress fails reach a budget, leaving many military families without the benefits they rely on to make ends meet, according to the Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits.
The coalition reported that last year alone, there were five major attempts to undermine this “quality of life” benefit which saves service members, veterans, and their families $4.5 billion annually and contributes billions of dollars to the military communities they support.
Millions of service members, veterans, and their families rely on commissaries and exchanges to stretch their household budgets, the coaltion said. An average military family of four can save $7,000 a year. In remote and overseas locations, it is often the only affordable shopping opportunity available. In metropolitan areas, where prices are consistently higher, commissaries and exchanges help keep prices affordable. For some junior enlisted military families and fixed income retirees, savings are the difference between making ends meet and filing for public assistance. Commissaries and exchanges are also the largest employer of military families in the world and the leading employer of veterans in the nation, adding to the financial stability of the military community.
If Congress fails to work out a more permanent solution, sequestration will still go into effect on March 1, the coalition noted on its website. This means commissaries would see taxpayer support cut by 9.4% or $130 million in operating funds, and by an additional $25 million in surcharge dollars.