DeCA employees were extended the benefit of shopping at military commissaries starting on June 30, 2018. This policy change sparked some serious debate among our MilitaryShoppers community!
There were readers on both sides of the debate.
Some felt very strongly that allowing commissary employees to shop where they work was common sense.
Others disagreed, saying that commissary benefits are a privilege earned through service to our country.
What Our Readers Said About the Policy Change for DeCA Employees
Former service member and current DeCA employee, David Shingleton thought that the move was fair.
“I went to work at DeCA in 2016 and served over eight years in the military and I am 40% service connected disabled,” Shingleton said. “I think being able to shop will help with employee morale and give us a sense of ownership. Many of us at DeCA are veterans that wish we could shop before being allowed to do it as a DeCA employee.”
Shingleton pointed out that exchange employees already have this controversial benefit.
He also said that he wants greater access to those who have served in the military but don’t qualify for commissary privileges.
“Purple Heart recipients, as well as service-connected disabled veterans regardless of rating, should be allowed to shop at commissaries and exchanges,” he said. “Not all will (shop at the commissaries); if they don’t live near a base, it’s not like it will over-run the system and drive up costs like some say.”
George Page agreed with Shingleton. He offered a suggestion to those who disagree with the new policy.
“If you don’t want workers to have the same benefits then restrict the hiring to those that have the same privilege,” Page stated. “I’m an Army vet, 8.5 yrs (service), worked for DeCA off (and) on since the ’80s. Never got to shop there but rules (are) rules.”
Commissary Benefits Extended to DeCA Employees, Not Their Families or Commissary Baggers
There are nearly 14,000 commissary employees worldwide. Approximately 50% are already qualified to shop at the commissary as military dependents or retired service members. This new policy affects the remaining 7,000 civilian employees. It does not apply to baggers, who are technically not employed by DeCA and only work for cash tips.
This new benefit applies only to DeCA employees, not their spouses or children. When they are no longer DeCA employees, they will no longer be able to shop at the commissary.
You can read all the comments about this policy change here.
Commissary employees will only be able to purchase groceries. They are not able to purchase tobacco or other controlled substances. As wine and beer begin to be sold at commissaries in the next 90 days, these products will also be off-limits.
The rationale behind this policy change was to give commissary employees more ownership in the stores where they work. It was also a logistical decision.
They work at a grocery store all day, but get off work and need to drive to a different store to pick up milk or eggs.
Readers Support Extending Commissary Privileges to Purple Heart Recipients
Perhaps restricting commissary employment to eligible shoppers might be a common point of agreement. Another idea was that shopping privileges be extended based on length of service.
“I think it should still be an earned privilege; a reward for say three or five years of employment,” explained Teresa. “Most of our store workers are well over that anyway, but I think they would agree. I also think that those with a service-related disability should have full privilege. It’s not like they decided to just quit (the military). My own family was lucky. (M)y hubby was over 20 years when he was injured so he was medically retired instead of discharged.”
Most commenters felt that extending privileges to commissary employees was unfair. Many readers feel that commissary shopping benefits are earned and shouldn’t be granted to non-eligible commissary employees.
“The PX and commissary privileges are just that. A privilege earned by service in the military,” James said. “It should be by, for, and exclusively military. By adding yet another group we are diluting this privilege.”
“If said employee has not earned that right to shop at the commissary, it should not be given,” said Karin. “It is a privilege, whether I earned it or I’m a dependent.”
Karin also suggested that disabled veterans and certain other groups should be granted access as a result of honorable military service.
“Purple Heart recipients and disabled veterans, sure,” she said. “They have earned it, some by barely escaping that ultimate sacrifice.”