America's soldiers may be earning their pay during the government-shutdown showdown, but they aren't able to buy groceries at military commissaries.
All 175 commissaries in 46 states and the District of Columbia were closed indefinitely on Wednesday, a Defense Commissary Agency spokesman confirmed.
"We are closed until the government shutdown is resolved," DECA media specialist Kevin Robinson said.
The commissaries are military grocery stores that sell food items to soldiers, retirees, and their families at cost plus a modest surcharge. Patrons save about 30 percent on their food bills compared with commercial groceries; little wonder the commissary benefit is consistently rated the most popular perk of military service in customer surveys.
Sixty-eight commissaries in 12 countries, Puerto Rico, and Guam will remain open, however.
Ironically, many patrons of shuttered domestic commissaries are family members of a "sponsor" serving in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and other hot spots. They're struggling to make ends meet at home alone, and their grocery bill just surged.
"You can be sure a lot of those House Republicans will start hearing from their military constituents about this," one locked-out commissary patron fumed.
Many commissaries are located at bases throughout the South in congressional districts represented by many House GOP lawmakers adamantly opposed to funding the government unless Obamacare is defunded or delayed.
Military families plainly saw the crunch coming, however, and prepared for the shutdown as they might have in advance of a hurricane — by blitzing commissaries and cleaning off store shelves.
Total commissary sales for the last day the commissaries were open totaled $30.6 million, more than double the normal daily volume, and the top sales day in 13 years.