It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the commissary. My family has been shopping there since I was a baby and I continue to shop there today! Ironically enough, when my parents were visiting this past week, what did we do? We ran into the commissary for the typical bread, milk and eggs run.
The convenience and cost-effectiveness are the primary reasons military families visit the commissary. But, as the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is being discussed in Congress, our commissary budget is on the chopping block, yet again. That could mean more commissary closures, reduced hours and days, among other things.
The House of Representatives approved the fiscal year 2017 NDAA, H.R. 4909, on May 20, which authorizes $610 billion in funding for national defense. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to debate it.
While negotiations are in the works, this is our time to speak up! Although it may seem like military families are alone on this one, there are organizations out there lobbying and fighting for our cause.
Join forces with these organizations and they can help amplify your voice.
Blue Star Families (BSF) is a wonderful organization that provides resources, programs and partnerships for military families. Each year, they release a descriptive military lifestyle survey that indicates the concerns of military families. The best part of the survey is that the right people are reading it and it’s making a difference in influencing decisions.
The 2015 survey results showed that military benefits and pay were top issues for military families. Our commissary is looped into the mix there. To make sure our benefits continue to be in the forefront of budgetary decisions, fill out their 2016 survey. Time is running out, so hurry because the closeout date is May 30!
In addition to Blue Star Families, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) is another fantastic organization that strongly lobbies for military families. They provide scholarships and kids’ camps (i.e. Operation Purple Camps) as well as resources for military family and health care issues.
They are also monitoring the defense budget saga and provide detailed explanations to better understand the situation because let’s be honest, it can get really confusing. NMFA recently broke down the defense budget concerns, including the commissary issue here.
With the backing of BSF and NMFA, military families can have a stronger voice. Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities and ways to contribute to these organizations.
You can also connect with The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits. This coalition is “working to protect service members and their families EARNED commissary and exchange benefits, and the critical savings they provide our military community,” according to its website.
You can also contact your state senator to encourage their vote in the proceedings. This is when you, as an American voter, can and should get your issues heard. Here is how you can contact their offices (be sure to select the U.S. Senate).
That reminds me, have you registered to vote?
Lastly, I want to encourage you to patronize your local commissary because that will also influence the decision-making process.
Every time you shop at your commissary, it’s counted and every dollar you spend is calculated. If the numbers are there, it’s undeniable proof that the commissary system is beneficial.