New commissary rule yet to have much effect in Europe
December 12, 2003
A new rule allowing members of the reserves and National Guard to shop in commissaries won’t have much impact in Europe — at least for now.
The change, which was part of the 2004 Defense Authorization Act, removes the 24-shopping-days-a-year limit that governed how often the troops could shop at the military markets. The new rule mostly affects reserve and National Guard troops in the United States and affects personnel overseas only in countries where agreements with the United States don’t impose other limits.
Many Guard and reserve members in Europe already have access to commissaries through other affiliations with the military, such as working as civilians on bases or being married to someone on active duty. Those in the Guard or reserve recalled to active duty also have normal commissary privileges.
The best way for those living in Europe to find out if they are eligible to use a commissary is to ask the local store, according to Bonnie Powell, spokeswoman with the Defense Commissary Agency in Fort Lee, Va.
In Germany, home of the 7th U.S. Army Reserve Command, the limit is currently at 24 days of commissary use per year, which mirrors the previous Defense Department rule. Now, military lawyers have notified Germany of the stateside change and hope for the same there.
“We’re working that issue to bring awareness to the German government,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Dahms, a spokesman for the 7th ARCOM. He said it was too early to predict any change in Germany’s policy, but added that the country has a history of mirroring U.S. changes.
Italy — where a smaller number of the 7th ARCOM’s forces live — also abides by the 24-day limit.
About 600 of the 900 members of the 7th, though, already have commissary privileges through their civilian jobs or spouses. Most of the remainder work for German companies.
Reservists in most other parts of Europe can use commissaries, simply because they are serving in an active-duty status, said Gerri Young, a DECA spokeswoman in Germany.
“This ruling doesn’t change a thing for them while they’re in Europe,” she said.
In other countries, like Japan, access varies from base to base.