The President's Corner

Pat Nixon - President ALA and SaveOurBenefit 
   Patrick B. Nixon

   The Coalition To Save Our Military Shopping Benefits
   Served as Chief Executive Officer, Defense Commissary Agency 2001 - 2007

        Millions of military personnel and their families rely on commissaries and exchanges to stretch their household budgets. An average military family of four can save $7,000 a year, and in many cases, in remote and overseas areas, it is the only shopping opportunity available. For some junior enlisted military families and fixed income retirees, savings are the difference between making ends meet and filing for public assistance.

        Military families endure hardship and sacrifice beyond what most of us have ever experienced. That’s why in ALA’s recent testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, we described how commissaries and exchange are so vital to the wellbeing of military families and why it’s so important that we take a stand to protect them from federal budget cuts and misguided policy decisions.

        Last year, there were no fewer than five frontal assaults on this benefit. These threats included a Congressional Budget Office proposal to defund the Defense Commissary Agency, converting it into a Non-Appropriated Fund activity, raising prices and eliminating benefits for entire classes of current beneficiaries, including retirees.

        These ill-advised budget and policy schemes, under the guise of “Government efficiency” would endanger a valued benefit for thousands of servicemen and women and their families. In its projections, the CBO grossly underestimates the toll its proposal would take on the military resale system. To compensate for the loss of funding, exchanges and commissaries would have to raise prices and cut service, discouraging would-be customers from taking advantage of the resale system. As the stores lost patronage, they’d have to raise prices even higher, driving even more customers away – eventually leading to the complete collapse of the resale system, a system that resulted in $5.6 billion in savings for military families in 2010 and billions of dollars in contributions to the military communities they support.

        Commissaries and exchanges are a bargain for the taxpayer and a gift that keeps on giving. Over the last several years, while the cost of other federal defense programs has ballooned, the cost of commissary programs has remained constant. The military resale system is a job engine –employing 100,000 working Americans, including tens of thousands of veterans and family members – and generates billions of dollars in yearly revenue to the economy.

        We are committed to protecting this vital benefit for military families. If you don’t want to see their valued commissary and exchange benefit endangered, I invite you to join us in our fight to save the military resale program.

        You can register with us here. Through this website thousands of advocacy messages have already been sent to our leaders in Washington, D.C. But they need to hear from more of us. Together we can ensure that the other 1 percent – the 1 percent that has spent the past decade sacrificing themselves and their loved ones for the benefit of our nation – can continue to benefit from these programs.


Patrick Nixon
The Coalition To Save Our Military Shopping Benefits
American Logistics Association