Military commissaries now facing Hagel’s hatchet

Photo: Staff Sgt. John D. Strong II/Air Force

My first introduction to the military commissary system was as a teenager when my friend from church, Prince Woodbury, told us about the awesome job he’d landed at the Ft. Gillem commissary.

He was a bagger there and bragged about the tips he received, because baggers did not get a paid salary. We were automatically jealous and as soon as we could, caught the city bus and put in our applications to be baggers at Ft. Gillem and at Ft. MacPherson. Unfortunately I didn’t get one of those jobs but always appreciated those who were commissary baggers.

A military commissary is a part of tradition. It’s a place where Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and cCastguardsmen gather with their families, regardless of rank. It’s a place where military families and kids develop some fond memories, such as my wife Angela and our daughters did.

However, according to a report in the Military Times:

Defense officials have asked the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) to develop a plan to close all U.S. commissaries — about three-fourths of its stores.

The fact that defense officials want DeCA to draft a plan for how it potentially would carry out such a move is another sign of the heavy budget pressures weighing on the Pentagon as a result of sequestration.

That such a proposal would come from within DoD is “very concerning,” said Steve Rossetti, director of government affairs for the American Logistics Association. Commissaries are “one of the most valued benefits,” he said. “For what this costs the department, they get a huge return,” not only in terms of the benefit itself but in other factors such as jobs for military spouses, as about 30 percent of DeCA employees are spouses.

I find it unbelievable that military commissaries are being examined for closure while we just wasted $634 million on the failed Obamacare website, and the cost of Obamacare is now at $1.7 trillion. Our men and women in uniform, and their families, deserve every benefit, but instead the Obama administration feels it’s more important to expand the welfare nanny-state.

Again, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel should be ashamed and embarrassed. First the inability to pay death gratuity benefits to families of our fallen warriors, and now this? It’s clear where President Obama focuses his priorities. Right now on every military installation worldwide, warrior families are in commissaries purchasing their Thanksgiving meal ingredients, kids are running down the aisles.. – for goodness sake, we owe them that much.

Please share with us your favorite commissary memory, and after Thanksgiving, let’s melt down the Pentagon and White House phone lines and demand the military commissaries remain.


  1. My wife was a bagger. Very good supplemental income. These idiots on the left will soon make it that joining the military will not be something anyone wants to pursue.

    • I think destroying morale is exactly what this person wants to accomplish. Counting on our Oathkeepers to secure our country and to prevent this progressive/status/liberal/communist-socialist takeover.

  2. Just this morning I was in the commisary on MCAS New River. I was struggling with my three kids (4, 2, and newborn). The produce manager noticed I was having a hard time and came to my rescue. She gave the two older boys little toys to play with and the shopped for and bagged all of my produce. It was one of the sweetest ‘pay it forward moments’ I have ever witnessed. She made my day.

  3. Cut civilian salaries across the board. I work for DoD and believe me cutting my salary would be alright if it came down to providing the same conveniences for the troops and families. Granted we may have to adjust the family budget again but I am sure we would all survive. Those that couldn’t survive should hit the private sector.

  4. My favorite commissary memories are of the former Frankfurt, Germany PX/Commissary. It was a great place to go with your buddies or family for off-duty entertainment and shopping. Although terrorists managed to bomb it in 1985, I also provided security for all visitors as a Military Police officer at that complex. The PX/Commissaries are a huge morale booster and it would be a huge shame if they were axed.

  5. Explains why they’re scanning ID cards at the cash registers for the first time since I’ve been using the Commissary in 1973 – now USMC Ret. What does barry – disrespect warranted – want us to do – support Walmart?

  6. Our family could not have survived on the low pay of the military if we did not have access to commissaries. Just another reason Hillary can never be elected Commander In Chief. Her husband was a draft dodger for pete sakes.

  7. I’ve been shopping in one commissary or another since 1974! It has always been the mainstay of my food budget! To even entertain the thought of closing them down is ridiculous!! Why would you deny a benefit such as this for our military and retirees? It makes no sense how this administration has managed to create such hardship for this country and especially our military! Wake up people, you are destroying the very fabric of this great country!!!

  8. I was a bagger while my husband served in the Navy. The tips were great, but the competition was fierce. The fastest always won out.

  9. When I was on active duty 1965-1986 we were told that everything in the commissary was sold to us at cost and the surcharge was used to pay the wages and other overhead. If this is no longer true, what is the revenue from the surcharges used for. Next to healthcare I would say it is the family’s most valuable benefit. My wife and I still use it at Ft Gordon,Ga. We try to go during the off peak days and hours but with the active duty population at Ft Gordon(it is huge) combined with retiree support (also huge) we go and hope. It mostly flows very smoothly.

    • It’s sad that there is no organized resistance to join already. The Tea Party is great & all, but where’s the beef? Sooner or later, an armed uprising against this BS will occur, and I already know which side I’m gonna be on!

  10. It has always been my understanding the Commissaries were to be run “revenue neutral”, making enough money to cover costs with no profit. If they achieve that, why are they being eliminated? This is simple pain inflicted on our military families. It is wrong.

  11. My husband and I are both retired USN. When we first got married we were both stationed onboard ships at Navsta Long Beach, CA. We went to the commissary to buy groceries and were standing at the cashier and I noticed this odd piece of meat go by me. I looked at it and said, “we did not buy this”. My husband said, “yes, we did”. It was tongue. The cashier kept saying do you want it, yes or no. We bought it, but I didn’t cook it or eat it. In 30 years of marriage I can say….we have never again had tongue. 🙂

  12. I still remember going to the commissary in Nuremburg, West Germany with my mom, just before Christmas, the year my brother was born. My grandparents were coming to visit us. The turkey was larger than my brother. My father’s colonel’s wife was shopping at the same time and jokingly asked my mom which turkey was going to be cooked for Christmas dinner.

  13. Obama can find Billions to send over seas to our enemy’s but can’t take care of our Soldiers or there family’s. I wish our Soldiers would end this on going nightmare called.

  14. Sounds like they’re trying to make it less and less appealing for people to join the military? Maybe trying to weaken our military defense even more?

    • BAM that was his plan all along. Don’t you remember when he said that he wanted a national police force? It had nothing to do with any military. Sounded more like the gestapo to me.

  15. hagel could not be ashamed,, he has no shame. he has always been a scumbag council on foreign relations boy. i never voted for him here in Nebraska as a senator,,, and ripped 1 of our senators who voted to confirm him. BUT, Colonel, why do you thing obamanation pick him? YES, I know, you know, the question was rhetorical of course. I am just an old Infantry Sergeant, getting grumpier by the day!

  16. veterans should have preferential employment, NOT AA candidates. veterans who serve 10 years should have medical for life, NOT A$$WIPE POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON, veterans should receive welfare for as long as the served TIMES TWO, not worthless porch sitters who think the world owes them everything.

    although I feverishly HATE unions, veterans and service people SHOULD UNIONIZE AND TELL WASHINGTON TO SHOVE THEIR WARS UP THEIR POSTERIORS and then replace the useless UN as a peacekeeping force globally.

  17. Wait! I thought the 4% surcharge on purchases was to pay for the expense of the commissaries. What happened to that? Something is fishy about the so called expenditures of maintaining commissaries. Would someone tell me if I’m wrong?

  18. We depended in the commissary for cheap groceries when we didn’t get paid very well through the military. Case lot sales were the best. .. We’d get so excited to have a house full of groceries!!

  19. My favorite commissary story actually happened when I wasn’t even there. Having left enlisted service and being away from the military for a few years, I returned to earn my commission via USAF Officer Training School. While I was TDY at OTS, my wife took her first return trip with our children to a commissary in Southern California. She and my kids were surprised–and perhaps a bit embarrassed–when my wife noticed how inexpensive a head of lettuce was, lifted the head above her own, and announced the lower price loud enough for people in the next aisle to hear.

    On the serious side, if commissaries are taken away, it is just one more step in the ongoing reduction in the quality of life and compensation for both those who are currently serving and those of us who’ve retired.

    From the growing costs for our health coverage to the closure of our commissaries and other base services, our expenses are rising at a rate that is outpaced only by our government’s lack of appreciation for the veterans and families who’ve sacrificed so much.

  20. Back in the 60s, back BC (before children for us) we would stretch our dollars as far as humanly possible. The small commissary at the radar site where my husband was stationed had a shelf of canned goods that had no labels! At the end of the month they were cheap and made for interesting meals.

  21. We were paid so low, I could only go to the commissary once a month. And my husband, being on the development boats was gone all the time. I took the 3 kids with me once. A guy in his whites came down the aisle and all 3 ran to him, attached themselves to his legs, and yelled, “Daddy.” I had to apologize profusely while I pried them off his leg. He just laughed.

    • Faye that was a wonderful story. My husband too was in the Navy, he is retired now. From one navy wife to another, God bless you for your service in the military.

      • Well, then you know that was not an unusual story. Happened often to many of us. I met my husband when I was going to Yeoman A school and he was going to Nuclear Power school in Bainbridge, MD. He spent 21 years in the Submarine Service and I spent 21 years as “second-class baggage.” We had something going on in the family one time when I needed him at home…they were in port so it shouldn’t have been a big deal. His boss told him No, that if the Navy had wanted him to have a wife they would have issued him one. He replied they did; she has a serial number. We were married 46 years. He spent the first 17 out of 20 years at sea. He died 3 years ago of a service-acquired disability.

      • I have heard that saying so often from my husband and other sailors. I loved his reply that he gave, that was a good one. I know this is late but I am sorry for your loss, you sounded like you had a wonderful relationship with your best friend, so do I. May God bless you in everything that you do in life.

  22. I can not believe this!!! Why? I have seen way to many young Sailors and Marines and their families already on food stamps. At least at the commissary they can make a dollar, go a long way. That also includes that no taxes are paid on food items. It breaks my heart to see these young men and women who serve in the military, on call 24/7 once again, looked as if they owe Obama and his admin. something! I KNOW it is the other way around. My husband retired this past year from the USMC after serving 30 years. I have and still do shop at the commissary, because just the fact they employe so many military spouse’s, children and the local people in the community. Shame on Hagel for even thinking about it!!!!! .

  23. Mr. Hagel; I am proud you are a Veteran. However; take your butt out of the office as Secretary of Defense, somehow you lost your balls!

  24. My husband was in the Army, then got out, went to college and then went in the Air Force. I was in the commissary at Seymour-Johnson Air Force base one day when I heard someone call my name…I turned around and it was an old friend from when my husband was in the Army and we were stationed at Ft. Dix, NJ. The commissary at the AFB was the closest to where their families lived. We had not seen each other in 8 years and had a number of memorable visits before we left the area.

  25. I remember going to Ft. Gordon with my grandmother to shop at the commissary there in the early 1980s. I used to look at AWE at the soldiers and could hardly wait until I could join up. A lot has changed since then.

  26. Why are our military families being treated this way. If they need the money then take it from the 7 billion that’s going to Iran. Our Americans should come first.

    In the late 60s we were stationed at Fort Presidio in San Francisco for two years. My first visit to the Commissary I came across a case of strawberries. They were so cheap I ended up buying 3 cases. When I got them home it hit me,,,I had to do something with them before they spoiled. I made strawberry jam for the first time and I have to say it turned out pretty good.

  27. Perhaps obama and hagel should put a bag on it and check out. This happens to be National Military Family Appreciation Month and THIS is how the obama administration shows their appreciation ??? WTH?? Mofo’s!

  28. BOZO & COMPANY are doing everything in their power to make “some” people pay for the sequestration. This is bull$hit!! He has a mission – destroy the US from the inside out and he’s doing a damn good job of it. Can we make it three more years???

  29. Obama must be a carrier of some parasite that he infects every person that he comes in contact with. How can these former American people do what they are to this country? Our military gets paid nothing in salary for the sacrifices that they make everyday for Americas freedoms! These bloated and corrupt people need to be dropped off in the hottest lz that can be found.

  30. They way Obama is treating the military, he wants them to starve to death or die from lack of health care.

    In fact, I think from the the beginning of Obamacare was to make those who did not vote for him to pay for those that did.. and to deny those who did not vote for him and approve those that did. I called this from the very beginning, but those I know would not listen.

    Later on down the line will be confiscating anything of value from the opposition.

    • obamacare was never about health care…it has always been about control..a government that controls a nations heath care …controls the nation…that’s why there were so many questions about whoever was signing up ..that was bogus from the get go

  31. They just keep picking & piking at our few benefits we have left until they will all be gone then where will the military be?? No one will join up & then he’ll bring back the draft!! Why can’t people see what is happening to our Country???

  32. It isn’t really a memory but, I don’t understand them wanting to do this. There are military families that need this benefit. A lot of military families are on food stamps. Not to mention the retired military that are on fixed benefits that use the commissary. One more benefit that the government is trying to take away for those willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

  33. hagel is a muslim..what do you expect…just like the muslim president he hates the military and wants to see it demoralized and fail…

    • Agreed. That’s why he was chosen. I think he he was chosen very carefully. However, I didn’t know he was Muslim. I wouldn’t be surprised since Obama is and so are the many Muslims he’s putting in positions of power all over the government.

      • hagel became one several years ago….he fits right in with the rest of Obama’s fools…Considering his history..or rather lack of still amazes me that people actually voted for this fraud…twice…

  34. My favorite commissary story is when my husband was an E-4 back in the 70s. We were stretching every penny feeding ourselves and 3 little kids. I went to the commissary one payday and left with a bunch of groceries and $11 dollars left over to last until the next paycheck. I dutifully gave my bagger a dollar and went home. Later, I found that dollar in my purse and no $10 bill. I wanted to cry, but figured that the bagger needed that $10 worse than us. No wonder that bagger was so appreciative!

  35. What happens the next time we have a national emergency event and all the bases go on lock-down? With no on/off traffic how exactly are families supposed to feed themselves?

    Besides that question Commissaries are also one of the few places which still have low level GS positions that allow employees to start at the bottom and work their way up in Government Service. My mother started as a GS-1 in a hospital typing pool and is now a semi-retired GS14 who they do not want to fully quit as her expertise is functionally irreplaceable. Sadly those low level positions have all gone away in favor of contract workers with fewer opportunities and stability. The commissary is the last holdout of the low-level GS worker that is available to many military communities.

    • Chow hall (DFAC), clubs, McD’s or Burger King, Pizza Hut, Anthony’s Pizza, Robin Hood, Taco Bell, Charleys, Dominic’s, etc, etc. etc……..Commissary would run out of food before the rest of the base.

  36. I wish I had a story sad to say I don’t just want to let you you all know I support all the military .They need the commissary’s to remain.

  37. I was following my good friend around the commissary at Fort Bragg N.C. and while he was busy looking for the items he wanted I slipped a box of kotex in his basket, he was shocked when he got to the register.

  38. This is a despicable thing to do to the military and retirees. I love the commissary, I always have. I have always told my mother that she better start using her commissary benefits before they take them away. I guess I was right 5 years ago. This saddens me tremendously. I have so many good memories of shopping at the commissary. I shopped there as a kid with my mother and then as a navy wife with kids of my own. I now take my granddaughter with me to the commissary. I can take a couple of hours shopping there every time. I purely enjoy the commissary. It is the only time that I spend money and don’t feel so guilty.

  39. Before they closed the commissary at Ft. Gilem I made a monthly trip & stocked up, I live at least an hour away. We had 10 family members at the time it saved us so much money, at least as much as I spent + with coupons & commissary only coupons this really helped. I’m a widow now & on a fixed income & there’s no commissary close enough to drive to. We also saved a lot when we were active duty. This is terrible to be threatened every month with another lose of another earned benefit especially when almost 1 billion has been wasted on the obamacare website. I’m sick & tired of illegal aliens being put in front of American families that have defended this country with no questions asked. I’m sick & tired of takers being put in front of American families that defended this country no questions asked. We really did go without while we were active duty with a promise by our government that with a carreer in the military we would be compensated after retirement. 1% of American citizens join the military even less makes defending our country a carreer. This administration should be a shamed of themselves.

  40. And how much is this president sending to Iran so they can finish developing their nuclear bomb? Oh wait they’re not doing that. And how much is this president sending to Iran, you know the amount agreed on last Friday, (always on a Friday.) Cuts every where where needed & increases where we the people don’t want it. I’m so mad I just want to swear!

  41. I think Obama and a lot of Democrats would love to shut the military down completely. This is just one of many steps they have taken. We will be back to the draft or Obama will take all the out-of-line policeman and make his own group to allow him to do what ever he wants. This is a nightmare!

    • Cyber-Meathead, You prove that YOU are the racist. Allen West cited facts, while you are throwing out disgusting smears that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Your leftist modus-operandus is so transparent and low, you should crawl back to your filthy hole and stay there.

  42. Obama has no interest in making the military happy (or anyone else for that matter) He shows more and more protection of the muslims and less and less of our own military. I keep asking why? Maybe letting others have power in the US is not alarming for his plans. He is taking away bases, medical care, commissaries, the high generals that know what they are doing as well as much more. No one is being truthful, but after being in the Air Force for 29 years, we can see the downhill fall of the military. Who then will keep the peace?

  43. I was a bagger at the commissary at Nellis AFB las vegas
    , I made pretty good tips for the times, the dependents took over after school.

  44. So why have we not impeached this socialist? Hell we wanted to impeach Clinton over a stain on a blue dress. He wanted some on the side but this guy just wants to screw us all. Wake up America.

    • We have not impeached him because the Dems control the Senate. However, if all goes well in 2014, the GOP should control both houses of Congress. Then, impeachment proceedings can begin.

      • One can only hope! I am so tired of this administration and their evil leader, dumping on us Americans. These men and women who fight and die for this country deserve much more!! I hope everyone turns on him in November, 2014, and puts the GOP in the Senate! This is the only change we have to maybe turn things around!!

  45. True story: Our son, a Gulf conflict veteran, was in the navy in San Diego and had a visit from his younger sister. To understand this story, it is important to know that our bio son is somewhere north of 6’6″ and our adopted daughter, of Asian extraction, is proud that she has grown to 5’2″. The two of them headed into the commissary one day but were refused admittance because only immediate family members were given access. Our son informed them that she was his sister; they expressed great skepticism. After some back and forth (“we are”; “you aren’t”) and her offer to show the name on her ID, the doorkeeper gave up in some disgust, rolled his eyes, and shooed them into the commissary. Our kids have, over the years, enjoyed a number of these incidents and find them hilarious.

  46. Unbelievable, not a day goes by without more bad news. This President and his administration are destroying our country. I grew up in a military family and never in American history has a President and his administration so disrespected our military. Those that returned from Vietnam were disrespected by too much of the public, but their government and many others still stood by them. Today it is those in the White House who have turned their back on our military. Some of our soldiers have made 4-5 tours throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They deserve to be able to shop at their commissaries at lower prices and they don’t deserve to be getting the short end of the stick on something new as they too often do lately. Only a liberal could support a President who turns his back on his military. Liberals are good at closing their eyes to the truth if it doesn’t fit their agenda. It’s because of these brave men and women in uniform that we have our freedoms, although they seem to be stomped on a lot lately. I wish every Liberal would pack their bags and move to their favorite socialist country and leave those of us who still believe in the American way of life alone.

  47. I am totally disgusted with Obama, and his cronies, they would do almost anything to tear this country apart. I still for the life of me, understand why he is still in office. This is the worse president we have ever had. Why are there no sanctions put on him? He works for us, not we for him. And that is the problem

  48. Our enlisted personnel and their families are already getting such low pay that many qualify for food stamps. Now, the Administration wants to take what little dignity they have by taking away their commissary privileges? Do they want these same families to go on welfare?

  49. I was really surprise when they mention that they wanted to close the commissary, they are trying to take our privileges, we work hard for this. We need to impeach this socialist President and his cronies immediately or a military coup….

    • make that a conservative administration. If republicans take over nothing will change. they will merely reap the fields obama has sown. semper fi

  50. Commissary Memory: On what I thought would be my last day of active duty I made a first and last visit to the commissary then walked out with two full bags of food and a smile. I didn’t bother putting a hat on–I was about to drive out the gate for the last time, anyway–when, 10 feet from my car, a second lieutenant yelled at me. He ordered me to put my groceries down on the ground in the middle of the parking lot, put a hat on my head and salute him. I love butter-bars. Nice finish to 4 years of service. (BTW: Eighteen years later I re-enlisted, served 23 years and never again violated the hat rule.)

  51. Wait a minute… let me get this straight. We just give Billions to our enemy , but we are going to close our commissary for our military that use this because they don’t make as much money as the average worker??? Let’s try this instead …. Let’s reduce the money the idiots in DC get for pay. Then we could save some money.

    • Yes that’s exactly right. And he uses the military to his liken. While we give billions to country’s who don’t like us. Even if we were there to help them. They would still kill us with the chance. And this country has to go through the crap we do with this President and Congress. While our ENEMY’S get our money. What’s it gonna take until this country’s people stand up and say no more. Is it not obvious that he and those really in power are gearing toward what they said they wanted to happen. A New World Order! And they make no secret about it. Biden has said on tv. O’bama makes laws to help it along. They are putting everything in place. If anyone should see this it’s the military! You mobilize and get things in place before you launch a strike.

  52. With all due respect to the Colonel, SECDEF is not trying to close Commisaries at this point in time, just reviewing options. With the BCA and Sequestration, the choice could come down to commisary or rounds for the rifle range. Or closing entire bases, not just the commisary. DoD Is only weighing options, which is exactly what it SHOULD be doing so the leadership can make informed decisions, or at the very least, inform Congress of what the ramifications are of Too Stupid to Pass policies (like sequestration) so they (hopefully) won’t be repeated anytime soon.

    • Since when has this Administration ever made an informed Decision? If they had we would not be in this MESS!! This administration has it’s own Agenda and it is not to serve and Protect…

      • Agreed, but those of us that continue regardless of the election results will still do our job of providing the information and recommending for/against certain decisions. How (or if) it is used is not up to us.
        Either way, part of that job is to try to keep the integrity of the debate, which was the purpose of my first post. Sec Hagel, like all SECDEF’s befre and after, makes some good decisions and some, shall we say, not so good. But flaming rhetoric like this article contains does not help either side, and will actually weaken an otherwise strong position.

      • Johnnie, have you ever been on a base and needed food and shopped at the Com? You might think about the families that are on bases in other countries that need this service… My husband served two tours in Vietnam in the Army flying in Helicopters. After eight years, when his time was up he reenlisted in the Navy and flew in P3’s for the rest of his twenty years… We are retired and make use of the commissary for certain things that are cheaper than in the community stores.
        Military pay is not that much, so it helps the families.
        It is good that they might want feed back to make a good decision, but from what I have seen, their decisions have not been good ones when it comes to anything that has to do with our military. They (the Military) are the ones that keep us free, and this administration does not seem to be on the side of our Military… Just Saying….

      • Absolutely, I’m living that life now, on active duty with retirement facing me square on in a couple years. I’ve been stationed overseas and know that overseas COLAs and OHAs don’t always make up the difference, especially when exchange rates are fluctuating faster than entitlements can keep up.

        I don’t believe closing the commissaries is a good idea, never said it was. But with the drastic cuts forced on the military, tough choices have to be made. All I’m saying is research is a good thing – SECDEF needs to know how little he would save by the closings compared with the ass-pain involved politically. But this article makes the assertion that the decision has already been made – it has not. In the future – who knows? I can tell you that it won’t be taken lightly, and Congress will have the final say – the budget request is just that – a request.

        But for the record, I believe it hit the service members a lot harder when on-post gas stations were required to price gasoline comparable to the off-post stations and collect the gasoline taxes.

  53. What are you military guys goimg to do when O’bama calls on you to aim your weapons at your families? Are you going to stand up and get rid of him or cave in? I always thought the military was more for the people, not the Gov. The military is the people’s only defense against a Gov. that try’s to force it’s rule over the people. Do you not take an oath to defend against foreign and domestic. He’s already fired over 300 generals and replaced them with those who will do what he wants. This President is doing everything against the Constitution you swore to defend. He makes his own laws. He changes laws to his liken. And he implements the Nuclear Effect! Doing away with the Checks and Balances. He’s doing everything a dictator does. When is our military going to stand for what’s really right. Instead of letting him send you off to other country’s to be slaughtered, for what? His own agenda! Wake up!

  54. Please take time to read “A Constitutional Basis for Defense by Jim Talent
    “Those who have not done so recently would
    benefit from studying what the United States Constitution says about the
    federal government’s responsibility to provide for the common defense. Most
    Americans had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution when they were
    children, so they are aware that one of the purposes of the document was to
    “provide for the common defense.” But they are not aware of the extent to which
    the document shows the Founders’ concern for national security.

    Providing for the Common Defense
    In brief, the Constitution says three things about the
    responsibility of the federal government for the national defense.

    National defense is the priority job of the national government.
    Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution lists 17 separate powers that are granted to the Congress. Six of those powers deal exclusively with the national defense—far more than any other specific area of governance—and grant the full range of authorities necessary for establishing the defense of the nation as it was then understood. Congress is given specific authority to declare war, raise and support armies, provide for a navy, establish the rules for the operation of American military forces, organize and arm the militias of the states, and specify the conditions for converting the militias into national service.

    Article Two establishes the President as the government’s chief executive officer. Much of that Article relates to the method for choosing the President and sets forth the general executive powers of his office, such as the appointment and veto powers. The only substantive function of government specifically assigned to the President relates to national security and foreign policy, and the first such responsibility granted him is authority to command the military; he is the “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”

    National defense is the only mandatory function of the national government.
    Most of the powers granted to Congress are permissive in nature. Congress is given certain authorities but not required by the Constitution to exercise them. For example, Article One, Section Eight gives Congress power to pass a bankruptcy code, but Congress actually did not enact bankruptcy laws until well into the 19th century.

    But the Constitution does require the federal government to protect the nation. Article Four, Section Four states that the “United States shall guarantee to every State a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against invasion.” In other words, even if the federal government chose to exercise no other power, it must, under the Constitution, provide for the common defense.


    • But the Consitution does not require a commissary agency, which is the current topic from the article. Nor does it even authorize a standing federal Army in peacetime. Article 1 give Congress the authority to “maintain” a Navy and “raise” an Army and fund for two years at a time; the difference in wording was NOT accidental, nor was it superficial.
      I’d like to ask Heritage whether the Air Force should be treated as the Navy (maintain) or the Army that it came from (raise as needed from the militia of the several States). Right now they are an unconstitutional (or extra-constitutional?) armed federal force.

  55. Commissaries are self-supporting. They do this by adding surcharge to the total purchase by the customer. The only thing the government provides is the facility.

  56. read a bunch of the comments, it is obvious that there is not much love for the Obama people. I new we were in trouble when hagel opened his mouth about force reduction. if the defense department was serious about saving money, they could keep the commissaries open very easily. get rid of all the civilians that have taken over the jobs that the military used to do. there is no legal job that you have to be ashamed of. I went mess cooking in 1962 at Charlestown south Carolina naval base. guess what, I lived through it. these civilians get paid an outrageous salary for doing the simple jobs that used to be done by service personnel. the guys usually did these jobs for three months. It was not a career job. just a job that had to be done, until some nitwit in Washington decided that it would be better to have civilians do it and pay them a hell of a lot more than the military member could even dream of. ask any military member and they can tell you about the waste that goes on in the services

    • If Congress were to eliminate the weapons programs the military say they don’t need or want, the constituents in these districts would lose jobs, and that means Republican and Democrat politicians would lose votes, and we can’t have that.

  57. This has nothing to do with Hagel. He is following the requirements of the sequester, which is law. A good executive would explore all options. I agree that closing them would be a negative event. Both Congress and the President allowed this to go into effect. Seems simple to me. Eliminate the weapons programs that the military commanders already say they don’t need.

    • Sequester, schmester. Our DOD is rolling in money compared to what we had in the post Vietnam war era in the 70’s. We upgraded our offices by having our grey, metal furniture refurbished by inmates at federal and state prisons. We did not have or even think of purchasing nice walnut desks and plush executive furniture for the offices, even senior officers. This is just one tiny example of the differences from today’s military necessities to the past. Shutting down, or even wasting money on a study of shutting down, commissaries is just another thumb in the eye of military families by this miserable administration.

  58. YGTBSM! Commissaries are chopped first or after Tri-care is axed? With this potus, there is no telling what he has planned, but it isn’t good. Maybe with the money Oblameo saves from closing the Embassy at the Vatican, we will be able to keep our commissaries for a while longer.

    • Tricare has already been axed for some of us already! As of Oct. 1, 2013, my husband and I had to go on Tricare Standard instead of Tricare Prime. We had to take out insurance through his employer. After 22 years in the military….this is what is happening.

  59. With Obama’s new “Rules of Engagement” many in the military will never have the chance to visit the commissary.

    New Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan. One step below full surrender – Obama to the Taliban: If you like your weapon, you can keep your weapon.

    The rules of engagement place the burden on U.S. air and ground troops to confirm with certainty that a Taliban fighter is armed before they can fire — even if they are 100 percent sure the target is the enemy. In some cases, aerial gunships have been denied permission to fire even though they reported that targets on the move were armed.

  60. The commissary system makes money, it does not cost the tax payer a dime and people think its the sequestor that is the reason to kill it. Not logical.

  61. The O administration and Hagel are slowly trying to dumb down our military – it is insidious, and all the while we send millions to countries that demean Americans – seems to me we are missing the whole issue. Wake up Americans!!!

  62. All of our Military need to stop fighting for these people in office, it’s not us they are fighting for anymore or this country to be free, so I say come home protect what is yours, what is the gov’t gonna do, there is a lot more soldiers than gov’t officials, come home to your loved ones, the gov’t doesn’t care about the American people anymore, look at what they are doing to America! SOLDIERS you are fighting for nothing, the gov’t is paying the very people you are fighting that hates us anyway, makes no since to lose a life for this gov’t. go A-Wall we will still love you!!!!

      • You took an Oath to protect domestic land too, and Obama is destroying it piece by piece while he is paying the enemy to keep our men and women occupied on foreign soil, that money should be going to our Country, because what are y’all fighting for?—–. To many of you to go to jail, but if you did don’t worry Obama has made this Country a Nanny Country your family will be taken care of.

      • Changing our civilian leadership is the responsibility of the voters. Do not expect us to your job for you. Part of our oath is to “obey all orders from the President of the United States, and all officers appointed over me”. We can not be turned against the homefront. Get off your [email protected]# and change this miserable failure at the ballot box. YOU choose our leaders, not us.

      • I didn’t vote for him, it’s all them other idiots that put him in office, I feel sorry for all of y’all fighting for nothing, I have friends that come home from fighting over there said it’s a joke, enemy gotta have somebody to kill, Obama keeps giving our Americans to them,and what so sad there is nothing y’all can do about it!!

    • It is not “A-Wall” it is “AWOL” meaning “Absent Without Leave”, and they will go to prison or get a dishonorable discharge (if they are lucky) if they did go AWOL. Bad idea.

      • I would rather get either one of those than die fighting Muslims for Obama any day on foreign soil, and plus him paying them to kill our men and women (THINK ABOUT IT)!!!

  63. My parents used to service commissary bases in Texas and as a kid I would love going to the commissaries while they inventoried all the grocery products that were in stock. One day I remember the most was the day I got to meet the famous Darth Vader from Star Wars. I was able to meet and great him when I was only 7 years old and got his autograph to boot with photos. This was a great experience that I will never forget and I know all of the children of the base that was their in line to meet with him to get his autograph and picture taken is an experience none of them will ever forget either. This Darth Vader, who was one of three of the Darth Vader’s to act in Star Wars was more than 7 feet tall in his uniform as he had to duck to get into the commissary from the storage room. He also had to stand in front of the freezer section with fans blowing on him because his uniform was so hot. What an experience this was for all the kids and myself . If this is the case from another Obama initiative, then may God have mercy on his soul and everyone who is in cahoots to bring this country down. GOD bless America and the troops and families who have given their time and dedication and some their lives for our freedoms which are being hindered and taken away from us one at a time. Get ready America the worst I fear is too come.

  64. There has always been a surcharge added to my commissary bill which was reputed to cover the cost of operating the facility. How does it save the government money to close down a facility that does not cost anything to operate?

  65. Yeah…I guess I don’t get why everyone is so up in arms over the commissary. At least when I was in (Air Force veteran) the prices were relatively comparable to what you could find off base. Sure, some things were better, but many others were worse. Add into that trying to fight your way through the myriad retirees doing their month’s shopping, and then having to stand in long lines and I just found the experience to be more trouble than it was worth.

    My view is get rid of all the frivolous crap stateside (AAFES, commissary, etc…) and pay our service-members more. Let’s face it, the government has a hand in running it so it has to cost far more than it’s worth. We could put that money to far better use by raising the base pay of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and they in turn could decide how they wanted to use it, rather than have it rolled into a supposed benefits package.

    • Mike,
      I take it you are not a retiree. What if your civilian boss began deleting your retirement benefits, would you feel the same?

    • Mike, they have no intention of putting that money to use supporting our military men and women! They don’t want to raise your salary or ensure you have excellent healthcare. They want the money to pay for their increases in welfare programs such as food stamps, HUD and free lunches, which they have expanded astronomically in the last five years! This administration looks down it’s nose at our military with absolute disgust…they view you as a necessary evil…at least until they can replace you with Obama’s dream of “a civilian army just as strong and just as well armed as the US military”. Yes, he actually said that!

  66. I think everyone needs to remember that free medical care(which no longer exist). Space available travel(which is basically non existent). Commissary and base exchange shopping privileges were all part of our contractual promise that the government made when were 18 years of age if we would serve 20 years or more in the military. Now we are no longer important and cannot do their fighting, they want to take the benefits away one be one. They knew when they made these promises that it would cost to have them. They are. Doing the same for today’s veteran. Making promises they will break when they are no longer needed.

  67. In reality I see nothing wrong with this, except the potential loss of jobs for Military Spouses. The money will move into the local economy. Plus increase the bottom line of local food stores. Many in the Military tend to stay in their On Base Enclaves where they are saluted, rooted and tooted. Not mixing with the Regular Locals in almost everything. Lower Ranking Members seem to go to Walmart and Costco where prices are sometimes even lower. As a 40% Disabled Vet I have always resented not being able to use the Commissary. So I have always felt left out in the cold, or in Hawaii the tropical air.I would hate to see the Commissary Close but it would stop the cheating and abuse of privilege that often goes on.

  68. My mother fed us very well in the 50″s and 60″s by shopping at the Commissary. We could actually live a middle class lifestyle in part because of the commissary and BX system on bases.

    It seems, Obama and crowd would rather have to give military families food stamps instead. That seems to fit their agenda better.

  69. This is what happens when people vote for a fraud with and Iranian adviser. Valerie and Oblunder hate America. Add in all the other liberal sewer rats who hate the military and you can see why we are where we are…God help us…

  70. So, Obama gets blamed for the effects of sequestration? Not the Republican obstructionists? And the resultant defense cuts are tied directly to the funding of the Affordable Care Act? Only if the real intention is just to criticize the President – rather than to discuss the real causes of the sequestration. How come military sentimentalists never harp on the hundreds of millions of US taxpayer dollars that were given away to “anonymous” agents in Iraq while our troops were risking life and limb fighting an unnecessary and unjustifiable war? That money could have been better spent on military benefits, veteran pensions, injured vets, etc. Instead it was given away, and nobody knows to whom or for what – though some people, probably some Americans, certainly some Iraqis, became very rich – the only “winners” of that war. Where’s the outrage, Allen West?

  71. The DOD budget include $198B in services contracts. When are they going to attack the bloat at various service HQs and the Pentagon that is full of support contractors (mostly retired officers and senior NCOs)? The biggest “value” they provide is coming up with new bureaucratic processes that justify their existence. Their ranks could easily be cut in half if not 70% and the boots on ground would never notice the difference…other than the lack of red tape.

  72. As usual the Pentagon and White have it wrong. They want to punish the Military and for what? The commissary is paid for by the surcharge that the patrons pay at the register all the monies are used for care a maintenance of the commissaries. I know president Obama wouldn’t know that but the Pentagon does. Maybe the Pentagon is trying to pull a fast one on the military personnel. We are not stupid.


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