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Your Commissary – It's Worth the Trip!
The commissary benefit has existed since the 19th century. Just as its facilities have evolved from tabletop sales counters in warehouses to huge, modern supermarkets, its administration has undergone multiple organizational alterations.
The biggest and most important change came 25 years ago. Before Oct. 1, 1991, each military service ran its own commissary system. But as of that date, for the first time all four commissary systems were managed by a single organization: the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which will observe its 25th birthday on Oct. 1, 2016.
Created to preserve the commissary benefit in an era of military cost-cutting, the new agency was the first consolidation accomplished by the Defense Department and Congress at the end of the Cold War. Expectations were that a single, larger agency would create cost savings by eliminating duplicate positions and would be better able to negotiate with industry, increasing customer savings and producing a stronger, more valuable benefit. Surcharge collected on every sale by every commissary would also enable the agency to modernize or replace multiple commissary facilities faster than the services would have been able to do by themselves.
That October, the new agency began managing all operations at 411 stores and multiple central distribution centers around the world. Now, 25 years later, DeCA has made great strides in improving the benefit, bringing state-of-the-art stores to installations that had used old facilities for decades, and increasing the level of customer savings.
Beginning July 1, 2016, farmers markets, in-store parties, case lot sales, vendor-sponsored prizes, and special savings from DeCA's industry partners will begin the pre-birthday observance. Throughout the summer, the observance will include the usual summer sales promotions and events, but all will be linked to the birthday theme.
The style and scope of the celebration will be different at every store, and each store will determine whether to celebrate on Friday Sept. 30, Saturday Oct. 1, or Sunday Oct. 2.
DeCA will also observe the 150th anniversary of the commissary benefit itself on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Together, the two observances will highlight the history, longevity and importance of the commissary benefit, the great savings and value the benefit has brought to our military community since 1867, and DeCA's continuation of those savings since October 1991.