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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Closing military commissaries bad

Bob Rinearson
Bob Rinearson
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, December 27, 2013 12:01 am
Every once in a while as I sit comfortably in my recliner while watching the evening news, an event or headline will be broadcast that will get me so angry as to make me look for something to kick. Since I don’t usually watch TV with a politician, I’m forced to settle for one of the tires on my car.But what to my wondering eyes should appear on the screen but the announcement that the Pentagon was formulating a plan to close 247 military base commissaries throughout the United States as well as those on foreign outposts.

Are you kidding me? Closing a staple so essential to those who have offered up their lives and livelihood so that the rest of us can live in freedom is in my opinion unthinkable. Shouldn’t military families be allowed a small discount on groceries in order to survive while their loved ones are off defending America’s interests?

But apparently such a consideration is not so unimaginable to President Obama or his Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who was a questionable choice for that position from the start. What’s even more amazing is that America has once again fallen victim to Obama’s smooth reassurances that ultimately become outright lies.

According to the website HeraldNet, in the same way he assured us no one would lose their insurance, he told a gathering of U.S. Marines that closing commissaries is “not how a great nation should be treating its military and military families.”

Then explain to us, Mr. President, after making those statements, why would you allow your secretary of defense to even consider a plan that would make unenviable hardships already placed on those in the military even greater?

Perhaps the suggested plan is nothing more than another “smoke and mirrors” way of thinking in order for this administration to seek sympathy from a once supportive public that has suddenly started to discover the lack of character that exists within the White House.

Director of Defense Commissary Joseph Jeu was asked why such a plan had to be considered. Just like a programmed robot, Jeu pointed to “sequestration.”

Somehow you get the feeling that this will be blamed on the Republican Congress. After all, as the past five years have shown us, this administration is responsible for nothing bad, but everything good, whatever that might be.

According to the article in the HeraldNet, “In that environment, commissaries have become ‘ground zero’ for deeper cuts. Those dollars are coveted to support other needs such as flying hours, ship streaming days and rotations to combat training centers. Closing almost 180 statewide stores could free up $800 to $900 million annually, by some estimates.”

That would make sense, right? Nothing is more important than keeping our military prepped in fighting readiness.

But here are my thoughts. The $800 million-$900 million used to supplement affordable food cost for the families of our service men and women is but a drop in the bucket to the $78 billion dollars spent on food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP. For people who are not working, that comes out to $135 a month per family. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “One out of every seven U.S. residents receives SNAP benefits.” Instead of this funding being cut, there has been an astounding increase of 77 percent from 2007 to 2012 in benefits being paid out. Plus, as shown through various investigations, SNAP is overwhelmed with fraud.

And if that’s not enough, how about the $2.1 billion dollars taxpayers fork over each year so that President Obama can give out free phones. And certainly that program isn’t being curbed. It’s just the opposite. According to the FCC, costs are expected to go up reaching an estimated $3.3 million dollars in 2014.

So what’s more important and who deserves taxpayers’ money more? The Marine or soldier or sailor or airman willing to make the ultimate sacrifice along with their families, or the dude on the street wanting free airtime so he can talk or text his girlfriend? Judging by the actions of President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel, it is evident where their priorities lie.


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