Military Commissaries are just like any other grocery store apart from their location. These neighborhood grocery stores are located on military installations worldwide and The United States Armed Forces have been shopping in commissaries since 1867! The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) operates 240 commissaries, including those overseas, that offer food and household items at a reduced cost compared to in-town shopping. This positions the military commissary as one of the top non pay benefits for today’s military. These stores are an important stimulus to recruitment and retention of skilled personnel, while simultaneously holding down taxpayer costs.
A military commissary bestows an exclusive benefit of discounted groceries and household goods to service members and their families. A uniformed-service member, Medal of Honor recipient, honorably discharged veterans with 100% service-connected disability, DoD Civilian employees, and authorized family members and/or survivors have shopping eligibility. Effective January 1, 2020, the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act expanded the pool of eligible exchange, commissary shoppers to include all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary veteran caregivers.
Shoppers need a valid military ID to shop, but outside of that there is nothing special needed to receive this important military commissary benefit. For those active service members and families living on base, the military commissary is incredibly convenient and everyday savings assist with staying within a tight budget. In addition to being close to home a family of four who choose to consistently shop at a military commissary can see savings add up to roughly $4,500 annually! To drive savings pricing fluctuates frequently at a military commissary as often as every two weeks as DeCA working to negotiate costs with industry partners so that saves can be passed on to military shoppers. Military commissaries are required, by low, to deliver savings to shoppers over average pricings found outside of the gate and manufacturers work with DeCA to take part in supporting the benefit for service members. For soldiers and family serving overseas the military commissary offers familiar faces and products in another wise foreign environment providing a taste of home away from home and a sense of comfort in a new place.
The COVID pandemic has reinforced the importance of the military commissary on bases around the world and shed light on shopper wants and needs. Military Commissaries DoD designation means the commissaries stay open regardless of an installation’s health protection condition, with exception of closures for cleaning due to outbreaks. The pandemic reinforced the importance of military commissary industry partners who work hard to ensure the military channel has priority within the tight supply chain environment. During the pandemic DeCA officials have learned customers want online ordering and curbside pick-up access. CLICK2GO, the military commissary online shopping and curbside pickup service has been slowly rolling out and is currently available at 5% of state side military commissaries. Officials expect to increase the number of CLICK2GO sites to 32% of the stores in the next two years.
As proven over time, the military commissary has developed and grown parallel to the development of the retail grocery industry. Growth and development continue as the benefit is expanded to additional eligible shoppers, new technology and new brands are introduced. Above all DeCA and the military commissary continues to fulfill its role to provide a top non pay benefit for today’s military through discounted groceries and household goods to service members and their families.