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Fort McPherson commissary to close Sept. 28
by Noreen Cochran
August 21, 2013 11:32 AM | 5611 views | 5 5 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fort McPherson commissary
Fort McPherson commissary
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An East Point military base grocery store, which offers thousands of active military and veterans up to 30 percent off their food bills, will close at the end of next month.

Fort McPherson itself ceased operations Sept. 1, 2011, but its store, called a commissary, has remained open.

Franklin Henderson of Stone Mountain, a disabled Army veteran who often made the drive to East Point, said its closure will impact anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 retired personnel and their families.

“People 80, 90 years old have to drive two hours to shop for groceries,” he said about the nearest commissary at Fort Benning in Columbus.

When the base closed, Henderson, a member of the DeKalb County Veterans Council, said the plan was for a new commissary to be built at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.

That has not materialized.

“It’s like a broken promise,” Henderson said.

Dobbins spokeswoman Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten confirmed the lack of progress.

“There is no known date when the commissary will be built on Dobbins and so we don’t know when the groundbreaking will be,” she said.

According to veteran Wayman “Duane” Williams of Conyers, a member of the Greater Atlanta Association of the U.S. Army, money was set aside for its construction.

“The total cost of that new commissary is alleged to be $23 million,” he said. “That cost should and must be included in the Defense Commissary Agency budget as a line item by Congress. Both Sen. [Johnny] Isakson and Sen. [Saxby] Chambliss, plus Congressman [Phil] Gingrey assured us it would be seamless.”

But a soft economy and sequestration – an across-the-board reduction in 2013 budgets, including a $37 billion hit to the defense department – have made that a harder target to hit.

“We have known since [the Base Closure and Realignment Commission in] 2005 that the commissary at Fort McPherson would eventually close,” Isakson said. “I have worked with my colleagues in Congress for several years to delay this closing and to open a commissary at Dobbins. Unfortunately, the Dobbins project will not be able to proceed right now because of a lack of funding.”

Defense Department spokesman Kevin L. Robinson confirmed the funds have been reallocated.

“Military funding for a replacement commissary at Dobbins Air Reserve

Base has been superseded by direct mission support requirements,” he said.

Keeping the East Point location open is not an option, either.

“The property containing the Fort McPherson commissary is scheduled to transfer to the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority in September,” Robinson said. “The commissary will close to coincide with the transfer.”

In lieu of a bricks-and-mortar store, the commissary agency will hold tent sales at Dobbins.

“Going forward, DeCA will provide periodic on-site sales of limited bulk food and household products at Dobbins ARB to partially make up for the lack of a full-time

commissary,” Robinson said.

Isakson said he will not forget his commitment.

“I will continue to work to see the Dobbins commissary through because I know how much our service members and veterans value this well-deserved benefit,” he said.

Comments
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Calvinator
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September 09, 2013
Why doesn't the government/military negotiate a contract with one or more national chains, like Kroger, Walmart, etc. that would allow active and retired military personnel to present their military ID to receive the same discount on goods and produce that they would at a commissary; then close all domestic military commissaries to save operational costs? There would also be the benefit of having more in-store items available to military personnel than a commissary provides.
James Bode, USMCR
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August 31, 2013
Spend a few of the Defense Department bucks to lease the present space at Ft. Mac until it's really needed by the buyers,and save we thousands of retired vets from taking a pay cut of some 25-30% to spend for our food. Extenseve travel to another commissory location is easier said than done for us "senior citizens" - WWII and Korean War vets.
Bheld
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August 22, 2013
The Ft McPherson Commissary has continued to provide necessary service for military active duty, reserves, retired service members and their dependents past the life of Forts Gillem and McPherson. Despite it's limited stock and narrow isles that are crowed with both shoppers and stock clerks, who must continually ply the isles in attempt to keep the limited display shelves stocked, it has provided a valued service to all authorized customers. It's continued operations until a commissary is opened at Dobbins is certainly necessary for all the reasons covered in the article and the preceding Comment. The quotes in the Article are all based on reasons why it must close and none on what is required to keep it open. This defeatist line never has never solved a problem (or won a war for that matter.)

I would like to hear from our political and responsible military leaders opinions on how to keep the Ft McPherson Commissary open and allow it to continue to achieve the mission of the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCa) to "Deliver a vital benefit of the military pay system" to the thousands of authorized customers in the greater Atlanta area.

By the way, according to the the Deca website it has canceled "On-Site Sales" for September due to budget considerations.

MoGrunt
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August 21, 2013


Closure of the Ft McPherson Commissary is a pocket-book, bread & margarine issue for all who are authorized commissary privileges. In my particular circumstance I believe the closure will decrease my retirement income buying power by an estimated $2,500 per year and trekking to Ft Benning is not an option. Of course by "cherry picking" weekly grocery specials at a variety of supermarkets may allow me to reduce my loss of purchasing power to a limited degree but it will mean multiple trips, and driving from one store to another. Of course shopping time and transportation expenses increase.

Regarding our politicians, the closure of Forts Gillem & McPherson caused the politicians to scramble for some "good news" for their active duty, reserve, retired military & dependent constituents in the Metro area - the proposed commissary at Dobbins Air Reserve Base was an easy bandwagon for them to ride. Typically though their follow through and foresight has been less than continuous and ultimately ineffective. Why the proposed Dobbins commissary was to be funded from appropriations rather than the commissary surcharge trust fund (funded by the 5% surcharge on all commissary purchases specifically for the purpose of commissary improvements & new construction) has always eluded me - of course a skeptic could easily conclude that appropriated funding was selected for the Dobbins Commissary to insure it would never be built (for the very reasons listed in the article.)

Our politicians and the Department of Defense and the separate military services have done each of us a great disservice.

ofj
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September 19, 2013
It is not to late to make a decision to leave the commissary at Fort McPherson open to our service members, vets, retired members and dependents. We are depending on some one in authority to do something imediately
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