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Office desks that went unclaimed and unsold at the Sagami DRMO are destined for disposal.

Office desks that went unclaimed and unsold at the Sagami DRMO are destined for disposal. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

Office desks that went unclaimed and unsold at the Sagami DRMO are destined for disposal.

Office desks that went unclaimed and unsold at the Sagami DRMO are destined for disposal. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

DRMO Sagami worker Russell Manuel looks on as Seaman Rosario Alcala completes paperwork Thursday after dropping off supplies from her command.

DRMO Sagami worker Russell Manuel looks on as Seaman Rosario Alcala completes paperwork Thursday after dropping off supplies from her command. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

Many vehicles at DRMOs are available to commands for free.

Many vehicles at DRMOs are available to commands for free. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

Disposal service representative Don Helle uncovers one of many gas ranges available for free at DRMO Sagami.

Disposal service representative Don Helle uncovers one of many gas ranges available for free at DRMO Sagami. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

Many furniture items are available in large volume at DRMO.

Many furniture items are available in large volume at DRMO. (Tim Wightman / S&S)

DRMO: It could just as easily stand for "Don’t Risk Massively Overpaying" for command supplies.

But for many commands, Defense Reutilization Marketing Offices represent little more than a prime opportunity to offload junk. And that’s what many people see when they drive by a DRMO facility: used supplies sitting outside waiting to get scrapped.

But if they ventured inside the facility, they’d be in for a surprise.

In a scene Costco lovers would appreciate, aisles are filled with new or used items in excellent condition: computers, TVs, tools, aircraft parts and medical supplies. There’s also an area filled with furniture. Outside you can find cars in good condition. Anything a command could possibly use is potentially available. And it’s all free.

"It’s hard to get your head around. The variety is overwhelming," said Don Helle, disposal service representative at DRMO Sagami in Japan. "Every day the inventory changes."

Helle is hoping to change his organization’s image as the first place for commands to get rid of their excess items. Although that’s accurate — it’s the official Department of Defense agency for military supply disposal — he wants it to be known as the first place commands should go if they need new items.

"We have 1,400 hospital gowns that I’m sure can be reutilized," he said. "I’m sure somewhere in the Department of Defense, there’s a hospital making or considering the acquisition of hospital gowns. Before you spend that tax dollar, that supply dollar, check us first."

Items checked into inventory are free for 42 days, he said. If they can’t be given away during that time, they are offered for sale to the public as surplus.

Individuals used to be able to visit a DRMO sale and buy chairs, tables, computers or other single items. But that’s no longer the case, Helle said. Single-item sales meant that when commands wanted a large quantity of matching items, there often weren’t enough available. The unclaimed items would then be disposed of en masse, which was deemed a waste of taxpayer money, he explained.

Now, customers must purchase entire lots of items.

The day that a supply item in inventory goes to the sales section is not a happy one for Helle.

"In a perfect world, I’d love to see sales empty," Helle said. "I’d like to see everything get reutilized to its maximum potential."

Sgt. 1st Class Clarence Parham is a frequent visitor to DRMO Sagami on behalf of his command. "We just picked up a vehicle, a very good vehicle," Parham said. "And I’m here again to see if we can get another vehicle and maybe some computer equipment. You can find a lot."

Customers browse the inventories of specific DRMOs as well as perform item searches of the more than 120 offices worldwide via a Web site — www.drms.dla.mil.

Also, if the cost of shipping an item is less than the acquisition cost, DRMO pays for the shipping. As Helle explains, all of DRMO’s activities, from reutilization to environmentally sound disposal, are focused on stretching tax dollars as far as possible.

He hopes commands and DOD entities can look past the more visible "scrap" scenes outside DRMOs and start viewing them as first options for their supply needs.

"A dollar reutilized is a dollar saved," Helle says.

What’s up for grabs?

A random sample of items available at the DRMO last week:


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