Happy anniversary: Commissaries honor National Guard’s legacy of service
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FORT LEE, Va. – On Dec. 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Colony created an organized militia that would eventually become today’s National Guard.
“Since its formation, the National Guard has proven to be instrumental in defending the nation,” said Marine Corps Sgt.Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director.
“From providing aid during disasters, to fighting alongside their brothers and sisters in the active duty and reserve forces, the members of the Army National Guard and the Air Guard have proven to be a valued asset to the safety and security of the United States of America,” he added. “We want our customers in the Guard to know we celebrate them every day by delivering the commissary benefit they’ve earned.”
According to the National Guard website, on Dec. 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court ordered the militia organized into three permanent regiments. Today’s 181st Infantry, 182nd Infantry, 101st Field Artillery and 101st Engineer Battalions of the Massachusetts Army National Guard are descendants of those three original regiments and share the honor of being the oldest units in the U.S. military.
Since 1636, Guardsmen have participated in every American conflict including current deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq).
Although there are no official dates for when Guardsmen and other reservists were listed as beneficiaries, their access to commissaries increased as their role in the American military grew larger.
Traditionally, members of the Guard and Reserve enjoyed limited commissary access, and had unlimited shopping privileges when they were on active duty. In peacetime, “active duty” amounted to two weeks out of every year. After the all-volunteer force slowly necessitated a greater involvement by the Guard and Reserve, consideration was given to expanding the privilege. In November 1986, they received authorization for 12 shopping trips per year in addition to unlimited privileges during their two weeks active duty.
In 1990, Congress and the Department of Defense decided to consolidate the individual service commissary systems under one agency – the Defense Commissary Agency, which officially formed on Oct. 1, 1991.
Seven years later, the National Defense Authorization Act of October 1998 increased the commissary privilege entitlement from 12 to 24 visits per year for selected Guard, Reserves, & Reserve Retirees under 60 years of age. Largely because of the increasingly important role they were assigned in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, members of the Guard and Reserve were authorized full-time shopping privileges by the Defense Authorization Act of FY 2004, effective Oct. 1, 2003.
In 2008, DeCA received funding for an official Guard and Reserve on-site sale program that brought truckload and case lot events to geographically remote Guard and Reserve service members and their families. The on-site sales events take place in warehouses, aircraft hangars, armories, tents in parking lots and even the back ends of semitrailers on Guard and Reserve bases across the United States.
“Today, DeCA provides the commissary benefit for Guardsmen and other service members, saving individual authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually when compared with civilian supermarkets,” Saucedo said.
Members of the National Guard, along with other reserve component troops and their active-duty counterparts, may shop at any of DeCA’s nearly 240 commissaries at U.S. military installations around the world.
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.