By Margaret McKenzie, FMWRC Public Affairs
The Defense Commissary Agency is taking the commissary benefit
to National Guard and Reserve members and their families living in
Guard and Reserve members and
their families shop at an on-site case-lot sale at the North
Carolina Air National Guard base of the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte,
(Photo by Margaret McKenzie)
"The 2004 National Defense Authorization Act authorized
full commissary benefits for members of the Ready Reserve," said
Richard Page, acting director at DeCA. "Through our new
"Bringing the Benefit to You" campaign, we are reaching out
to our Guard and Reserve members who have earned the commissary
benefit, but who cannot easily travel to a local commissary to shop on
a regular basis."
"Bringing the Benefit to You" involves conducting
on-site sales out of warehouses, aircraft hangars, armories, tents in
parking lots, and even the back ends of semitrailers at remote
locations where Soldiers and families do not have access to a
This is part of the Army's reinforced commitment of support to
military members and their families through the Army Family Covenant.
A core military family support element and a valued part of military
pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness and
enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families.
"While the focus is on Guard and Reserve, the on-site
sales are a boon to all authorized shoppers living near them,"
Page said. "The Guard and Reserve members have earned this
benefit and we want to make sure that we are delivering the benefit to
More than 55 percent of the National Guard and Reserves members
do not live in what is considered the immediate area of a commissary.
"This is just
part of a larger picture," Page continued. "Back in the fall
when I became the acting director of DeCA, I had several priorities,
one of which was to make sure that we were doing our very best for the
Guard and Reserve members not located near a commissary."
Page said DeCA is exploring ways to increase the frequency of
the on-site sales and locations by looking at the demographic areas
that are largely populated with the Guard and Reserve members.
"It depends on the size and the demographics of the
area," Page said. "Fort Jackson is the closest commissary in
the Charlotte area. There is a large population of military members in
this area that do not have access to a commissary, so I will estimate
doing this quarterly and try to tie it in with the drill training
weekends so that it will be beneficial for the Soldiers and we can get
Military members from all branches of the service including
retirees flocked to the 145th Air National Guard Wing hanger, in
Charlotte, N.C., in April for a case-lot sale, the first of its kind
in this area.
Information on other benefits for military members also was
available at the sale. Representatives were on hand promoting the Army
Integrated Family Support Network through the Family and Morale,
Welfare and Recreation Command, Military OneSource, and Armed Forces
Other information about Web sites to access other resources and
benefits was available to military members and families as they filed
through the doors to make their purchases.
DeCA's own dietitian Dietician Maj. Karen Fauber was also on
hand with information about the agency's newest health and wellness
initiatives. "We partner with TRICARE on this initiative,"
"I love this case-lot sale," said Clinton R. Douglas,
a former Marine. "My wife and I were here three days ago and we
are back here again today. We can get everything here that we could
get at Sam's, only here we can get it at a cheaper rate and no sales
tax and everybody treats you nice and that's one thing I love about
Tech Sgt. Marvin Williams was equally excited about the
case-lot sale. "I have lived in Rock Hill, South Carolina since
1990. The closest commissary is about an hour and a half from me.
Most people in this area have to travel an hour and a half to
two hours to get to Fort Jackson to shop. It is a good opportunity for
me and I look forward to hopefully having more opportunities like this
"I am really excited about this," said Phillip E.
Sakowitz Jr., executive director of the U.S. Army Installation
Management Command and the new director for DeCA.
"It is all associated with helping Soldiers and
"This is my first case-lot sale." said Leslye A.
Arsht, deputy under secretary for the Military Community and Family
Policy. "I have really wanted to have these expanded so that we
are better supporting Guard and Reserve military members in areas
where they have to go a long way to take advantage of the commissary
The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of
commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and
their families in a safe and secure shopping environment.
Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a five-percent
surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and
modernizing existing ones.
"It is everything I had hoped it to be and it has great
crowds even though the weather isn't great," Arsht said.
"People are coming; some are coming even more than once. They are
seeing lots of great bargains and we are really feeling like this was
an important step in supporting a quality of life for the guard and
reserve and the rest of the folks who are eligible and who live in the
The Fort McCoy Commissary, building 1537, will host a case-lot
sale from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 10 and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, May 11.
The sale is open to authorized
military patrons only. For more information, call (608) 388-3542.