Menendez, Lautenberg, Pallone, Holt Slam Defense Department Decision to Close Fort Monmouth Commissary

Menendez, Lautenberg, Pallone, Holt Slam Defense Department Decision to Close Fort Monmouth Commissary

NJ Lawmakers Fought to Keep Commissary Open for Military Community and their Families

Newark -U.S.Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6) and Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), today slammed the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for its decision to close theFortMonmouthcommissary when the base closes next month. Since 2010, the lawmakershave advocated for DOD to keep the commissary open to continue serving19,000 service members, surviving spouses, military retirees and their families whothe Army had estimated wouldcontinue to utilize the commissary after the base closes.

"I am incredibly disappointed that the Pentagon has chosen to ignore the Army's recommendation and close the Fort Monmouth commissary," Senator Menendez said. "Thousands of military families and veterans will now be faced with a sudden lack of access to the affordable food and basic goods they need. The Department of Defense should have at the very least kept the commissary open long enough to enable families to adjust to this change, as we've been advocating for over a year. It is the right thing to do on behalf of those who sacrifice so much on behalf of our country."

"Sincethe Bush Administrationrecommended closingFortMonmouth, we haveworkedtogetherto fight this misguided closure,and most recentlyto keep the commissary open.We are deeply disturbed by the Pentagon's decision.Closing the commissaryisthe wrong decision and it adds insult to injury for military families in the region,"said Senator Lautenberg, an Army veteran."The commissary is a critical resource for military familiesandthiswillonly serve toheighten the impact of the base closure. Wewill continue todo everything inourpower to support the military retirees and their families who have already sacrificed so much."

"The Department of Defense made the wrong decision to close the Commissary, one that ignores the needs of our military families and the effects this will have on the local economy,"Rep. Pallone said."The reality of this misguided plan is that it will make it more difficult for active duty and retired military personnel to receive the benefits they have fairly earned. It's in everyone's best interest for our military families to continue to utilize the Commissary, which is why I am extremely disappointed in this decision."

"It is inexplicable and alarming that the Pentagon has, against the recommendation of the Secretary of the Army and senior Congressional leaders, decided to closeFortMonmouth's commissary,"Rep. Holt said."The 19,000 service members, military retirees, and their dependents who rely on the commissary were right to expect that this critical resource would remain open. In spite of the Pentagon's wrong-headed decision, we will do everything possible to help Monmouth's service members and retirees and to support the community's economy."

In 2005, the Bush Administration recommended the closure ofFortMonmouthto the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)Commission. The recommendation was acceptedby the BRAC Commission and the base is nowscheduled to shut down in September 2011.

The Senators and Congressmenhave sent letters and had multiple meetings and calls to urge the Department of Defense to keep the commissary open. The delegation metwithArmy Secretary John McHughin May 2010 to personally request thecommissary remain open for a transitional two-year period afterFortMonmouthcloses. In August 2010, the lawmakers sent a letter to Army Secretary McHughto reiterate their stance that the commissary is vital for military retirees and their families across the state. In response to the lawmakers' request,Secretary McHugh recommendedinFebruary 2011 that the commissary remain open for a transitional two-year period followingFortMonmouth's closure.

In addition, the Senators andCongressmenmet with Dr. Clifford Stanley, UnderSecretary of Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense, who is responsible for military commissaries, in June to underscore the value of the Fort Monmouth Commissaryand request that it remain open.In aletterleading up to their meeting with Under Secretary Stanley, the lawmakers laid out significant concerns about the process and guidelines for deciding which commissaries would be closed.

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