As a young adult learning to live on your own or an older citizen trying to save money, there’s one thing everyone shares: we are all looking out for ways to save on groceries and the everyday goods we need.
Veterans and other military personnel are no different.
One of the benefits extended to veterans and active military personnel with appropriate ID cards is access to local commissaries found in bases around the country. These commissaries provide a much-needed service to the men and women who serve — namely providing groceries and other related goods at a discount.
A new public-private partnership between the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Defense Commissary Agency, Georgia Department of Defense and Dobbins Air Reserve Base has resulted in the extension of the commissary alike benefit to metro Atlanta through the Military Family Support Center.
Found just outside Dobbins’ front gate, the support center will host on-site commissary sales every month allowing retirees and other personnel access to the goods they need.
Lt. Col. Thomas Lesnieski’s family of five visited the Military Family Support Center’s first sale this month. “It was a great opportunity to shop locally and utilize a military benefit,” he says. “For me and my family, we were able to save a significant amount of money by going to this sales event, and we will definitely be repeat customers.”
The sales event provides goods at regular prices, plus a 5 percent surcharge. According to the DeCA’s website, personnel save an average of 30 percent by shopping at commissaries compared to other grocery chains.
Additionally, commissaries and the on-site sales being offered at the center stock everything found in an average grocery chain and provide a safe environment for servicemen. “[Shopping at the support center] was very convenient. They have everything from laundry detergent all the way to steaks to cereals and everything in between,” Lesnieski says.
The sales events currently being offered at Dobbins occur once a month, usually for a string of two or three days, explains DeCA spokesman Rick Brink. “The Chamber of Commerce came in and leased a building and cleaned it up, and [DeCA] come in once a month and do our sales,” Brink says. “If you’re saving on your grocery purchases, then that means you have more money in your pocket to spend on other things.”
This service comes as an especially great benefit to veterans returning from conflict zones and elsewhere. The sales allow a variety of people with different economic situations to get the goods they need. “I think it makes a big difference for the mere fact of the cost saving when you purchase items there. It’s definitely a significant discount compared to some of the large outlets out there,” Lesnieski says.
The Military Family Support Center is the first of its kind being served by DeCA and allows metro Atlanta servicemen an alternative to going to a commissary that may be out of the way. Commissaries as a whole are slowly decreasing in number due to base closings around the nation.
“It’s a benefit that most of our retirees and military personnel have come to enjoy over the years when there’s a large military base nearby,” Lesnieski says. “But due to commissaries being closed, this is our one opportunity here in metro Atlanta to enjoy that benefit.”
Brink has also seen the benefit of the sales firsthand, and he agrees that the support center will go a long way to helping out local authorized shoppers. “If you’re in an area where you normally can’t reach a commissary, and you’ve got this type of grocery shopping center with really good products at good prices — people take advantage of them,” Brink says.
Chamber President David Connell spent three years working with his own team at the chamber, dubbed Team Dobbins, to turn this project into a reality. For him, offering these sales to people in need was the least they could do to give back to the community.
“It’s not about recognition for [the chamber], it’s doing something to help our fellow citizens. A lot of the people that take advantage of what we put together are people who are [injured] because they served this country or put their lives on the line to allow us the freedom that we have today, or are the spouse of somebody who actually got killed,” Connell says. “So to be able to offer something to that Greatest Generation, in particular, is very, very special to me and the people who worked on this.”
Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, an adjutant general with the Georgia Department of Defense, hopes the project at Dobbins will be long-lasting and make a difference where it truly counts. “The Military Family Support Center will be beneficial to the military community in the Cobb County area,” he says. “The Georgia DOD is proud to support this project as it will support all components of the military in the metro Atlanta area.”
For more information on the goods being offered and the sales schedule at the Military Family Support Center, visit commissaries.com.