DeCA sees strong sales due to newly-eligible disabled veteran shoppers

Julia LeDoux
June 10, 2020 - 8:50 am

Defense Commissary Agency

Opening its doors to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and primary veteran caregivers has paid off for military food stores.

The disabled veterans and other new shoppers spent nearly $21 million from Jan. 1, when they became eligible to shop at the commissaries, through the end of April, Military Times reported. That figure represents about 2 percent of the commissaries sales. 

“We’re very proud and happy to be supporting them. I hope as this pandemic subsides or is at least in somewhat of a remission, we’ll see more of these folks on board,” Department of Defense Assistant for Commissary Operations retired Adm. Robert Bianchi said during a recent commissary roundtable conducted by the American Logistics Association.

New year brings big changes to commissaries

There were a total of 273,742 separate transactions at commissaries during that same four-month period. That figure doesn’t represent the number of individuals who shopped at the stores, as some may have made multiple trips to the commissary, Military Times said.  

Heightened security measures due to ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran may have also hampered the ability of the new shoppers to visit commissaries on some installations. And, they may have avoided shopping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as they are more susceptible to the disease, Military Times said. 

Online shopping available for disabled veterans, former POWs at commissaries, exchanges

The newly eligible shoppers include all veterans with VA service-connected disability ratings; Purple Heart recipients; veterans who are former prisoners of war; and primary family caregivers of eligible veterans under the VA caregiver program.

Prior to the change, only those veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability rating, and Medal of Honor recipients were allowed the benefits. They can also shop at exchanges and can use certain Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs.

The 10 commissaries with the highest sales from these customers are Pearl Harbor and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; March Air Reserve Base, McClellan, and San Diego Naval Base, Calif.; Orote at Naval Base Guam and Andersen AFB, Guam; Fort Meade and Andrews AFB, Md.; and Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Fla., Military Times reported.  Pearl Harbor had the highest number of sales among the group, with $883 million in sales over that four-month period and 10,067 transactions. 

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