Anchorage Commissary partners with National Guard to deliver the benefit to customers in a remote area
FORT LEE, Va. – The Anchorage Commissary, Alaska, successfully partnered in an Alaska National Guard training mission Aug. 7, providing groceries at significant savings to authorized patrons in the remote town of Bethel.
With a population of 6,472, Bethel is a hub location and the logistics and retail focal point for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, a region that spans 75,000 square miles. The town relies on airplanes for contact outside of Alaska – there are no highways linking Bethel to the rest of Alaska. Residents use snow machines to travel to outlying villages in the winter and river boats in the summer.
“It was great to partner with the Alaska National Guard in their training exercise, while at the same time being able to provide the commissary benefit to our eligible customers who don’t have the opportunity to shop their commissary regularly,” said Bill Moore, director and CEO, Defense Commissary Agency.
To prepare for the event, guardsmen loaded 12 pallets of grocery products, containing more than 750 cases of items, onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, on Aug. 2. The products were staged and readied for sale at Bethel’s National Guard facility five days later.
More than 70 customers participated in the sale which saw over $16,000 worth of groceries sold. Customers were able to pre-order items in addition to the products that were available on-site.
“Due to the uniqueness and geographical isolation in Alaska, it can be challenging for eligible personnel to get access to the benefits that they have earned through service to their country,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Winfield Hinkley, Alaska National Guard senior enlisted leader. “We are proud to partner with DeCA to help realize their goal of providing Commissary benefits to all eligible patrons.”
Customers like Harry Alexi, a retired Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class, loaded their carts with bags of flour, boxes of cereal and cases of mac and cheese, available at significant savings compared to what they could buy at local stores.
“The sale was truly a success. My team and I are honored to have had the opportunity in bringing the commissary benefit to our most deserving eligible patrons in rural Alaska,” said Dwight Brown, Anchorage Commissary store director. “The response received from the community was overwhelmingly positive and is a true representation of how valuable the commissary benefit is to our service members, retirees and veterans.”
According to Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, commissioner for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, team work between the National Guard and commissary personnel was essential to the event’s success.
“This has absolutely been a group effort, and we are very excited that we were able to successfully accomplish this mission,” said Saxe. “The purpose really is to be able to provide discounted groceries to eligible military patrons. People, from recruitment through retirement years, are our greatest resource and we need to show them through our actions that we value and appreciate them.”
Both DeCA and the Alaska National Guard hope to deliver the commissary benefit to more remote communities.
“We hope in the future to be able to continue bringing the benefit to more of our remote customers as they sacrificed much to earn their commissary benefit,” Moore added.
– 1st Lt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel and Capt. David Bedard, Joint Force Headquarters, contributed to this release.
PHOTO CAPTION: Cheryl Bault, Anchorage Area Commissary store associate, rings up groceries for retired Alaska Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Harry Alexi during a Commissary sale Aug. 7 at the Alaska Army National Guard Aviation Facility, Bethel, Alaska. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard/Released)
About DeCA: 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. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.