Gulf War II-era veterans have joined the fight to protect military shopping benefits and base commissaries, which are increasingly under pressure to close due to reduced defense budgets.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans association with more than 270,000 members nationwide, has teamed up with The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits, a military advocacy group composed of 1.9 million members devoted to maintaining shopping and exchange credits for servicemembers, veterans and military families, the Herald Online reports. The two organizations are currently fighting cuts to commissary subsidies, which offer servicemembers and veterans a 30 percent discount for various household goods and products.
"Commissaries and exchanges are a key part of the military community, connecting the youngest service members to military families and even local retired veterans," IAVA Chief of Staff Derek Bennett said in a statement. "Protecting this benefit will ensure that veterans and their families have access to discounted, quality groceries and products."
According to the National Military Family Association, commissaries do not make a profit, and the cost of running a commissary is subsidized by the federal government. However, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has voted in the past to eliminate the federal subsidy of commissaries and combine the commissaries with military exchanges, the organization states on its website.
The sequester and impending government shutdown might jeopardize the future of military commissaries, the Herald Online reports. The closing of commissaries and exchanges might also affect the stability of the military, the news outlet adds, since it is the largest employer of veterans in the nation.