Reservists reap new commissary benefits
By Cpl. Luis R. Agostini
| | December 01, 2003
U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2004, Marine reservists can kiss their commissary privilege cards goodbye.
The card, which granted 24 commissary shopping days per calendar year, has been replaced with full commissary benefits given to members of the ready reserve (which includes members of the selected reserve, individual ready reserve), members of the retired reserve who possess a Uniformed Services Identification Card and their dependents, according to a United States Marine Corps press release dated Nov. 24.
That means that reservists currently activated to Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Headquarters will be able to return home and shop at their local commissary in the mainland and around the world once they complete their obligated tour of service.
One Marine reservist, Cpl. Cedric Smith, an SRB clerk for Headquarters and Service Bn., is in the process of departing Hawaii, and looks forward to the benefits awaiting him.
"I'll definitely use it [commissary] a lot more now," said Smith, a Vallejo, Calif., resident. "Travis Air Force Base is only 15 minutes away from where I live, so now I'll get to go weekly, or whenever I want, instead of once a month."
Fortunately, commissary privileges haven't been a problem for many Marine reservists, especially the hundreds who have been activated since post-Sept. 11, 2001.
"I've been on [reserve] orders for two years already," said Cpl. Medehania Baheta, a service record book clerk with Headquarters and Service Bn. here, and San Jose, Calif., resident. "and I might extend after January. So I really haven't needed the commissary card since I've been able to go for a while."
For others, like Staff Sgt. Tanya Longbine, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the MarForPac security branch, commissary privileges have not been an issue.
"I've been on orders ever since I got out," said the Rochester, N.Y., resident. "I don't even know where the closest commissary is back home."
Either way, the Defense Commissary Agency plans on immediately making the shopping experience for all service members, active, reserve and retired, and their dependents, more convenient.
"Instructions have gone out to all continental U.S. stores informing them that reservists now have unlimited shopping and telling store managers how to welcome members of the National Guard and Reserve to the full use of the commissary benefit," said Patrick Nixon, deputy director of the Defense Commissary Agency. "Commissary shoppers will begin to see banners saying 'Welcome Guard and Reserve to Full Time Savings,' along with other events recognizing these new full-time shoppers."