Reserve, Guard Get Extra Commissary Shopping
By Herb Greene
American Forces Press Service
FORT LEE, Va., Dec. 3, 1998 National Guardsmen and reservists who think they've used their limited commissary benefit this year, or who are nursing it for monster holiday shopping, got a gift from Congress recently.
The fiscal 1999 Defense Authorization Act passed in October grants reserve component members 24 commissary visits per calendar year -- double the 12 they already had. The law applies now, so reservists received 12 more commissary shopping trips in the closing months of 1998.
"Gray-area" reservists -- those who have retired from the reserves, but who have not yet reached age 60 -- also get the 12 additional shopping visits in 1998. Reservists called to active duty have full-time commissary shopping privileges.
"Unused visits, including the additional 12 visits for 1998, do not carry over," said Kaye Fannin, Defense Commissary Agency consumer affairs advocate at Fort Lee, Va. "If reservists do not use their commissary visits [by Dec. 31], the visits will be gone come the first day of January."
To accommodate reserve component shoppers, commissary personnel will date and initial 12-visit 1998 Commissary Privilege Cards a second time, as necessary.
"The commissary benefit is part of the nonpay compensation of our reserve forces," Fannin said. "With thoughtful planning, a reservist with a family of four and 24 shopping visits per year could save about $2,000 on their grocery purchases each year. Members of the Guard and Reserve can use their commissary shopping visits anytime during the year."
For more information, reserve component members should contact their units or talk to the commissary officer where they shop.
[Herb Greene is a public affairs specialist for the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va.]