I am as usual scouring Facebook when one of the most awesomest bloggers and army wives hits me up with this article.

Apparently Oklahoma Senator (R) Tom Coburn thinks that having commissaries state side just doesn’t make sense.

His Top reasons why are:

It is unlikely, he claims, that “a grocery benefit is a determining factor in a soldier deciding whether or not to re-enlist.

He cites research that purchases by military retirees – not active members – account for more than half of all Commissary sales.

U.S. commissaries just don’t make sense, Coburn says. “Fort Myer, for example, is located a stone’s throw from the Pentagon in Virginia, and has its own Commissary. But it’s located “less than two miles from at least three major national grocery store chains: Safeway, Costco and Giant.”

His Solution For Us Military Families

Raise military pay by $400 a year and let military get groceries elsewhere!

My Thoughts

I sit here with muffled thoughts and my mouth open. The place we know as the commissary has been a staple of military life for years. My mother tells me stories til this day of when my grandfather would take her and her siblings to the commissary in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. To even assume that military families can just go and shop on the economy so easily tells me that Mr. Coburn may have researched reasons why CONUS commissaries should be closed down, but obviously hasn’t done his research on how many military families receive food stamp benefits because contrary to popular belief finances are hard for us military folks too.

I live down the street from a Food Lion and while I may stop there for the occasional loaf of bread lunch meat ,or jug of milk, I do not do my household shopping there because the cost is almost double what I would pay at the commissary.

Furthermore so what if retirees make up the majority of the sales, they too earned the commissary benefit and if it were to be shut down , it would not only take it away from current military personnel but those who have earned the right to be called a Veteran and who have served so many years so they could retire and enjoy this benefit they have earned.

Speaking of “enjoying this benefit” let’s be honest while it is awesome to know that their are so many who enlist because they want to serve their country, lest not forget many do enter (in addition) because those privileges such as commissary shopping are beneficial financially in this economy. Healthcare and Commissary benefits are two of the biggest reasons so many do enlist , especially those with families.

You may not also realize that there are many one car military families or spouses whom do not drive and who rely on having a commissary in walking distance or on the installation in which they live. Soldiers also use the commissary for lunch quite often because it is close and affordable. To top it off you use an area near the Pentagon where the cost is high as hell to even shop off post.

Lastly at what point do you take into consideration how many jobs will be loss, many of which are held by military dependents and retirees. These jobs are used to supplement military family incomes. For those who are military spouses working at the commissary how do you suppose they make up for lost income and no commissary benefits?

So I ask Mr. Coburn how do you assume that military families in the states have no use for commissaries? Do you honestly believe giving an extra $33.33 a month ($400 a year) will be enough to take our shopping else where? I find that figure to almost be insulting considering the average family spends close to $300 a month on food.

I realize you are a doctor and according to your bio have never been part of the military lifestyle and to you this might seem like a small morsel. Since you do happen to have an accounting degree I think it would be wise to go back to the drawing board and recalculate your numbers because today your accounting is off!

Do you think it would be beneficial to close down commissaries in the US and would you be willing to go without them?





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Krystel is the mom of two and an Army Wife. In addition to Army Wife 101 she is the Co-Founder of SoFluential.com a digital media agency that connects brands with the military market. She has appeared on MSNBC ,FOX LA and formerly was a weekly contributor to HLN's "Raising America". She has written for various outlets including Sheknows and Lifetime and is a big fan of cupcakes and french fries.

56 Comments on So Tom Coburn Thinks Us Stateside Military Folks Don’t Need Commissaries Eh?

  1. I completely agree! My first thought was of the job loss of those who work in commissaries. My second thought was that in the article, he says its to “give choice” of places to shop. No one is being forced to shop at the commissary & it is MY family’s grocery of choice.

    • We need those commissaries! People have jobs that run them, and in case you didn’t know Mr. Senator, we are on a tight budget! The government doesn’t exactly pay a lot of money to its soldiers! While the military benefits are GREAT, we still have to live!!!

  2. Wow, in reading this article I am floored to find so many screaming about losing an entitlement given to military families.
    I didn’t know the government was subsidizing food costs for military retirees.

    Sure you should get what you deserve- but put a $$ on it and that is it. How about this article points to the question of what the RIGHT price difference would be- if its not $400, then what, $800, $2000? Just say it and tell the Senator- this is not an emotional question- it’s a financial one. Make it so.

  3. I don’t live on post. But I shop at the commissary weekly. We are a family of 5 and the commissary prices are more affordable for us. I don’t even understand what he was thinking.

  4. I think that’s a terrible thing!! There are so many other things link his OWN paycheck that could cut spending and yet all the politicians want to chase after he soldiers and the soldiers family.. The one protecting those rights and their country. The commissary is a staple and while some don’t use it, and heck even some things may be cheaper elsewhere from time to time there’s no tax AND no one can say meat alone being way cheaper isn’t worth shopping there! We always go shopping at the commissary!

  5. I’m from Oklahoma and I’m so disappointed in Senator Coburn. My family only shops at the commissary and feel as if we save so much money in doing so. An extra $400 a year won’t come close to what we save by shopping at the commissary.

  6. $400 a year is laughable! I shop at the commissary for everything! Not only is it more affordable, it is very convenient to be able to shop and be home within five minutes, which is crucial since we do share one car. Not to mention Here the closest grocery store is at least 10-15 Minute drive from post assuming there is no traffic.

  7. When I first married my husband and moved up to Fort Drum the only two places we had to grocery shop in were Walmart and the commissary. There were maybe two other small grocery stores, but they were over-priced. And even then, we often made a trip to Walmart, the commissary and a local grocery store or farmers market JUST to get our money’s worth.

    So lets keep the commissaries AND raise military pay by $400. Haha.

  8. $33 a month?! Who is he feeding? That doesn’t even cover one person for one week, at least not on a healthy diet!! This is getting crazy. Commissary, health care, those all the benefits that were supposed to make up for the lack of actual pay. But they just keep taking away and giving very little back but still ask men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Outrageous!!

  9. Wow, really an extra 33$ a month? The commissary saves me at least a $100 when i go shopping. When I find myself going to Walmart I look at prices and I can’t believe at times how much more things are there. We don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, we have no credit card and only one vehicle payment, but I for me to shop places besides the commissary would cost me more money, not to mention my 10% tax I’m charged in my city. As opposed to the 5 or so dollar surcharge i get going to the commissary.

  10. I really really hope this doesn’t pass. I love the commissary.
    It really would make things harder for so many people to lose it. I also don’t see a problem with veterans using it so much, a lot of them are barely getting by. Its crazy the views people have why are you seeing price tags instead of people…

  11. I have an idea, maybe Senator Tom Coburn should zip it. I am so very tired of people that don’t serve telling the ones that do what is best for them.

  12. I don’t think it’s a good idea to shut down the commissaries in the US. My family and I always shop at the commissary. I love how close it is to us (we live on post) and I also love how not crazy it is lol. We are from a very small town and moved to a big city where all the regular grocery stores and Wal-marts are always packed full of people. I’m not even comfortable going there by myself. If I need to go grab a few things or go all out grocery shopping I go to the commissary. I love that the commissary doesn’t charge tax as well because tax is over 8% where we are. I would much rather pay a small surcharge!

  13. Of course it wouldn’t! That is just crazy! If i had to shop elsewhere i would be spending almost the double that i do now! When i lived in Hawaii if we didn’t have a commissary even with extra cola we would’ve been broke half of the time… The ignorance behind his words are embarrassing.

  14. He is clearly out of touch with reality. So many military installations are not in areas that have decent grocery options. Just because he took one example and sees waste, maybe he should do more research and REALLY understand the system.

    His comments are a huge slap in the face to all those retirees that have sacrifices along with current military families. If they are so concerned with costs, why don’t the elected officials pay for their own retirement and heathcare and quit being a “drain” on the government. Most of THEM can afford it according to their tax forms but that doesn’t exempt them from drawing from the “free or reduced” system.

    It’s appalling that he would even suggest that $400 a YEAR would cover the cost. I just read now they want to freeze pay and start reducing pay.

  15. $400 A YEAR! HA! I spend $300(that’s what we have budgeted for groceries every two weeks) a payday on groceries and household essentials; that is with me cooking EVERY meal AT HOME(we don’t eat out because it’s too darn expensive to), me making my own laundry detergent and household cleansers, and using coupons! PLEASE!! He definately should do more research before running off at the mouth about something that he obviously has no clue about. What is the big deal about retirees shopping at the commissary; they earned that benefit as well. I don’t know where he did his research because MOST people I know do their main grocery shopping at the commissary! I have also had many civilian friends of mine talk about how they wish they could shop at the commissary! Let’s not even go into how convenient the commissary is when you have to make a grocery run with little ones in tow while your spouse is gone on training or deployed! It’s nice to not have to go offpost, too far from home! Not to mention, most posts that I have lived at have not had a Safeway or Costco within a reasonable distance, and what exactly is Giant!? Keep your uneducated opinions to yourself Mr. Coburn!

  16. If it wasn’t for living in Belgium at the moment. I wouldn’t be shopping at a commissary. The commissary doesn’t carry many off brand foods. It all taste the same, it’s all made the same no reason to pay more for name brand crap. We are a family of 6. Before we moved overseas we only spent 400-500 a month on groceries. We now spend 600-700 no matter how many coupons we use. I miss having a Sams club and a Costcos. I miss the good sales of our local grocery store. Now by all means I don’t think the should just cut out all the commissaries. With Jobs the way they are now a days it’s hard to find new jobs.

  17. I find it sad when those who haven’t experienced military life first hand as an enlisted member, spouse or child try to pass judgement or justify why certain “benefits” are a luxury versus a necessity. If you haven’t experience it personally you are in no place to judge or tell others how they are to live their lives or telling them what is best for them versus asking. You pin pointed a lot of my keys points in your response. He wouldn’t understand because he’s never witnessed many issues that military families encounter.

    Lastly, $400 extra a year for extra groceries? That solves it? How about we give him $50 for a pair of running shoes every 6months so he can run to work- versus taking a car. Same thing, right? Stop dictating and trying to limit the benefits given to military- they are EARNED not GIVEN!

  18. I think this is absolutely ridiculous. There are so many difficulties about being a military family, why take away one of the few perks we have? Many people can’t get off base to shop because they only have one car. Not to mention… our military members make very little money (the majority of them) and the savings are quite necessary for many of us.

    This is another case of our politcal “leaders” taking away from those who vote them into office. And in this case, fight for their freedom to make terrible decisions.

  19. I’m a veteran and now Army wife. I think that Sen Coburn is wrong about the commissaries but I also kinda think he is right. Defense is about to cut 500B in spending. Would y’all rather lose commissary privileges or your spouses’ jobs? What about healthcare? I’m not saying it is directly related, but something has to give.

  20. We live at Hood and generally every place around here is a Zoo. But honestly, I prefer to shop off post. I must be shopping at the commissary wrong because I always spend more there. I use a lot of generic brands that aren’t available because they are cheaper. I meal plan and usually only spend about 150 dollars for two weeks of lunch and dinner by going to the regular grocery store and buying lots of store brand items. But there have been a few times where I’ve been following a recipe and have had to run out to the commissary and I could not imagine taking them away from the posts especially when there are so many one vehicle families out there.

  21. I personally LOVE the commissary. At Ft. Bragg, we have 2 commissary’s just to try and accommodate the amount of soldiers & their families that are stationed here and they are still crowded. So to state that we could do without them is an understatement. I rarely shop elsewhere. I as a military wife will always support fellow military personnel whether it be a veteran, spouse, etc. by shopping at the commissary b/c why not give back to those who sacrifice everyday & support something you believe in. So … to be blunt, my overall opinion on the matter would be to tell Mr. Coburn to shove it where the sun don’t shine! hehe I say it with love.

  22. This is beyond stupid! We were stationed at Fort Wainwright Alaska and I seriously could not have survived without the commissary!! Yes there were other grocery stores outside post, but honestly I’m not the best driver especially in -40 degree weather with snow & ice on the road. The shorter the distance the better for me and everybody else on the road!!

  23. I would love to see this senator purchase groceries for his family on the economy with the same amount of money that some of our most junior soldiers do. Honestly so tired of ppl who have no idea what it’s like trying to tell us how we should be living!

  24. It’s really frustrating to hear this and then see a article in military times that suggest “we” are paying the military too much. Um excuse me?? We have military families barely making it. Even as a SNCO family we struggle still. I can’t believe with as much as we pay our so called law makers that they are going to suggest going after the military. It’s sickening.

  25. We dont’ shop at our commisarry but that’s becuase after three deployments my husband has probelms with lots of people in a small space and he’ll go instantly into guard mode. But when my Mom was active we never shopped ANYWHERE but the commissary. There were three of us and we would go through two gallons of milk in a one week period so I know for a FACT if was cheaper for her to shop there in say out the Safeway that was a few miles more up the lane. I know the country is deep in debt, what I dont’ understand is why it seems those who make less are the ones being targeted for having more taken away.

  26. The commissary is like any other store, sometimes you save a lot and sometimes you don’t. I know I would be really sad if it was gone forever. There are certain things I always get super cheap there, the trick is to avoid payday, they swear they don’t jack the prices on those days but they do. At my store kraft shredded cheese is often $1.79. It’s $4 a bag off post and we use a lot of shredded cheese. Sometimes the meat is questionable and I don’t buy everything there but so much is cheaper like paper goods and cleaning supplies. We do need the commissaries!

  27. Unless you are in the military you shouldn’t have ANY say in what benefits the members should and should not have. I say we cut his pay and see how he likes that. Ever since living in years of remotes locations, I miss the Commissary a lot. I appreciate it and I do not want it taken away.

  28. here at Riley, we really don’t have that many other groceries stores..I’ve tried shopping at Walmart and it is much much more expensive than the commissary..And I agree with what you said about one car families..I know SO many people around here who only have one car…

  29. I personally enjoy shopping at the commissary for the simple fact that it’s cheaper to feed my family of 5 when shopping there. As long as you avoid the payday rush it’s calm and not to many people unlike Wal Mart that is always packed. Let’s see this senator live for a year on a junior enlisted salary or even a senior enlisted salary.

  30. I spend almost $500 dollars on food per month to feed my family of four. Prices are outrageous now everywhere but when you’re trying to buy healthier food its ridiculous. If we had to shop out at Walmart or Food Lion or Kroger we would be straddling the lines of poverty! I dont know what he was thinking!

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  31. Wow…I think his understanding is way off base. There are so many military families that benefit from the commissary, either because it is less expensive or because when they live on base it is the closet option especially since many younger military families only have 1 vehicle. Of course an additional $400/year would be nice, but how do you put a price on your freedom. The government is already complaining that the military pay is too high (how they figure this, I have no idea) because I know so many military families on food stamps and WIC and that is a crying shame because the military is protecting your liberties.

  32. For some reason my last comment was deleted or it’s gone….

    I’ll repeat. What seems to be missing here is that even if they shut down the commissaries, it won’t matter. Obama’s administration & Congress have to stop the ridiculous spending. This is not a partisan comment either. I said the same thing about the Bush administration. It won’t matter what you cut as long as you keep this spending up no matter what you cut it will never be enough.

    Military families deserve to have commissaries. It is one of the benefits for serving. Keep slashing benefits and messing with retirement pay and you may have to bring back the draft. Let’s hope this comment sticks.

  33. I am researching the PPBE proceess, the budgeting process, for my job and started to stumble across DoD overspending and other issues.

    Government spending has to be cut back. So … give families $3,000 per year (more in HI and AK or maybe even northern VA and other cities) and close most commissaries. Close them over a one year period and all affected are given notice so that everyone can find other jobs or sources of income. Meet with grocery companies and establish a tax break for companies that provide discounts for military people.

    That sounds fair, and the government will save a lot of money.

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