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DoD officials consider closing commissaries, other services across U.S. in 2015

By Alison Parker
Published On: Dec 03 2013 11:35:17 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2013 05:06:56 PM CST
CAMP LEJEUNE, ONSLOW COUNTY -

In the midst of creating a defense budget for 2015, Department of Defense officials say they're considering closing U.S. commissaries and other services to help with budget cuts.

Commissaries are shopping centers on military bases, where may military spouses and retirees are employed. Military families receive tax-free benefits (with a surcharge) and low prices from shopping there.

Marine wife Ruth Taylor shops there to feed her family.

"I'm all for saving money, but it needs to be through the right things, and I don't think that the commissary is one," Taylor said. "It has great savings for us, but the biggest issue is that it is a military spouse employer and military retiree employer."

According to officials, there are 178 commissaries in the U.S. There are several close to home, including the ones at Camp Lejeune, the New River Air Station and Cherry Point.

Officials say no plans have been made, and commissaries remain open as of now.

""The Secretary of Defense has made it clear on numerous occasions that all cost-cutting efforts need to be on the table in order for the Department of Defense to meet the spending caps associated with the 2011 Budget Control Act," a representative says. "At this time, no final decisions have been made on the Department of Defense's fiscal year 2015 budget submission. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to discuss any specific budget decisions."

Should the commissary close, the effects could reach far past the base.

"It would have a tremendous impact," said Joe Sanderson with the N.C. Department of Agriculture. "It's millions of millions of dollars to the farmers and our companies in NC."

Sanderson says many local farmers rely on the commissary for income, by selling items like fresh produce, meat or cotton.

"You just have to take a wait-and-see perspective, with what the military is trying to do with the funds that they do have, and see where we go forward from here," Sanderson said.

Nat Fahy, director of base public affairs, assures everyone that the deals remain for now.

"It is one of many programs that are on the table, and nothing is being ruled out, and for now, we can say for the foreseeable future that the commissary will remain open," Fahy said.