Panic! At The Commissary — UPDATE



DeCA has just announced that commissaries worldwide will remain open in the event of a shutdown. This is the latest from their Facebook page, as of 8:30 p.m. ET today (April 8):

FORT LEE, Va. – All military commissaries would be operational in the event of a government shutdown, the Defense Commissary Agency announced late today. DeCA’s announcement that its stores would continue to serve military members and their families if a government shutdown were to occur, affects 249 commissaries in 12 countries and two U.S. territories worldwide. During a potential shutdown, commissary customers would be able to access the DeCA website, However, that site would not be updated during the shutdown. Customers would be able to access the Department of Defense website, for any breaking news that affects service members and government civilians.

However, during my latest visit to the commissary (which was, again, disappointing in it’s lack of excitement) a customer service agent told me that while they will for sure be open tomorrow, they may not be open any day thereafter.

So the confusion continues — at least a little bit.

In other good news, DoD has also released more information on exactly how a shutdown will impact specific family related programs. From the release:

You can find the rest of that release here.


With commissaries around the world (except, maybe, in Japan and Korea) closing their doors tomorrow morning under the government shutdown, I headed out today to witness the grocery panic here on Fort Benning first hand. If people are going to throw punches over milk and bread, I want to be there to see it. I even had my video camera. (Maybe this makes me an ambulance chaser — but I know you are counting on me for this stuff).

What I found was a little disappointing — or maybe it was encouraging. Not only were there no fruit battles in the produce section, but it altogether seemed like just a normal Friday in the store. No one was rushing the canned goods. No one was stockpiling frozen pizzas.

The rest of this base has the same feel. There are a few comments on Benning’s MWR page asking about what may be closed starting tomorrow — but other than that, nada.

What this major lack of panic tells me is this: most people don’t yet know what’s going on or how it impacts them. The real drama, I suspect, will be tomorrow morning when customers hit the commissary only to find the doors locked.

As it stands here, the commissary will likely begin marking down perishable foods later this evening, a manger told me earlier. That means if you want to score cheap produce and meat, it might be a good idea to check-in with your commissary an hour or two before closing tonight to see if they, too, have marked stuff down. We might as well make the best of the situation.

As far as other base services such as the gym are concerned, it sounds like what’s left open will vary by installation. I’m told here on Fort Benning only one gym will remain open and the library will be closed — but that doesn’t mean everyone else will be doing the same thing. For example, SpouseBUZZ contributor John told me earlier that the only thing he’s been told that will close on his Navy base in Sasebo, Japan, is the library.

Update at 5 p.m. 4/8/11:

After reports that the commissaries wouldn’t be closed, then reports that they would, there are now (again) reports that they will not be.

This from the Defense Commissary Agency Facebook page:

UPDATE: As of Friday at 3:50, commissaries may be impacted in the event of a government shutdown. At this time, all overseas stores will be operational if a shutdown occurs. This includes stores in Puerto Rico and Guam. A decision on stateside commissaries will be forthcoming later this afternoon or in the early evening.

This, of course, does not jive with what I was told by a local manager here and reported above — that they would be closing.

Thanks to reader Claudia for the tip!

And, as always, keep checking back for more updates.

Previous Shutdown Blog Posts:

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Francheska

    no rush at the commissary @ Ft Sill when I went yesterday either! I just got double of everything and all was normal but my grocery bill ;)

    • terrein

      Just a reminder; 2012 is the year for getting even. Remember ALL the Reps/Senators/Congressman who sat on their butts and did nothing about the budget (which was supposed to be completed by October 2011. The reason I say, “Remember”, is this: You can make changes to our Government Office holders, by voting them out, whenever they begin campaigning for another free ride. They obviously didn’t do their job, don’t give them another chance at messing with the military. Remember, your vote counts and so does your spouse’s, and so does your extended family, and the neighbors. Hey, let’s get everyone involved in revamping this government that has little or no concern for their military. I’ve already prepared my list of those can be voted out in 2012, now I’m working on my next list. I’ll store that on my computer, for quick recall. Oh, don’t be afraid to share your list with families and friends. The more activity, the more chances to lose the “fat cats”. Good Hunting.

  • 11b wife

    there was mass panic here @ Grafenwoehr. Line wrapped all the way around the store to the produce section. It’s probably a lot different for us overseas than those in the states. People don’t want to shop on the economy. It was CRAZY today.

  • concerned soldier

    the commissary in wiesbaden germany is closing in half an hour and not opening up till the budget crisis is over

  • nada

    Well atleast in the states you have other stores to shop at. You might have wanted to record the commissaries overseas

  • Ryan

    There was no rush at the one here at MacDill AFB either which I was shocked about!

  • Kathleen

    I live in Italy and the base commander’s wife sent out an email letting us know that everything on base here will be business as usual. Commissary, BX, CDC, Library, everything will be open.

  • Carol

    Relavtively nomal here in San Diego… the crowd was getting heavier when I left though, as I hit it about 8:30 am.

  • matt

    wife is at the commissary onboard NAS Lemoore now and said it looks quiet and dead.

  • Claudia Rothwell
  • Claudia Rothwell

    DFAS also has a Facebook Page:

    Everyone should have these pages “Liked” to be able to stay up to date at all times.

  • Catherine Wilford


  • This may be a dumb question – but what is the big deal if the commissaries close? There is a walmart on practically every corner. Why are people in such a tiz?