Proposal for DoD private-label products at military commissaries has families worried

Robins Air Force Base Commissary in Georgia. (DeCA photo: Ray Stone)

Discussions continue on Capitol Hill over whether or not military commissaries should carry national brands or private-label products. Many military families fear that the change will only increase prices and decrease quality.

Experts say the Defense Commissary Agency lacks the resources, time and money to market their own private label and bring it to a level that equals the quality of national brands.

One of the factors being considered of course is which option is more cost-effective.

During a House Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), argued that commissary costs represent only a fraction of total military spending. However, other committee members said there are many ways the current system could be more cost-effective.

Wednesday’s hearing follows the September release of a DoD-commissioned report on the effects of potential commissary reforms, reports USA Today.

The price of goods sold at military commissaries is fixed — both here and abroad. They are sold at the cost of the good plus a 5 percent surcharge that helps fund commissary operating costs.

“We have found military members consistently rank their commissary benefit very highly, alongside health care,” said Brooke Goldberg, a lobbyist for the Military Officers Association of America.

The National Military Family Association, says the commissary benefit represents the “equivalent of a 2 percent to 9 percent pay raise” for members of the military.

This proposed change would certainly hurt their pocketbooks, says Goldberg, but also it could disrupt, even damage, the sense of community for these families.

“In rural or low-density regions … commissaries are places where military families can meet up,” she said. “We risk these changes affecting the other systems that support our military families.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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