One of the nicest and often overlooked military benefits is the use of the Exchange, or PX. Also called the Post Exchange, PX, or Commissary, it is the equivalent of the “military store” and offers a wide variety of goods and services at a reduced cost to Servicemembers, Veterans, Retirees, and their dependents and family members. The savings realized by Servicemembers and their families at the Commissary is considerable; because of it’s pricing and more direct to customer sales ability the savings can be up to 30 or 40 percent sometimes. The Military Exchange or Commissary represents one of the biggest military benefits available today to the active duty Servicemember.
Sales of services and good from military stores to military personnel is not a new innovation, it began back in the early 1800’s when officers serving in the U.S. Army could buy certain things at Army Post Stores purchasing them for at Cost. By the year 1841 officers could also make purchases for members of their families and their dependants. The goal of military post exchanges and commissaries is to take retail sales that occur on military installations out of the hands of civilian competition retail stores, and to provide the opportunity for the military to “take care of its own,” by providing goods, food and services at substantial savings. One of the intents of the Military Post Exchange program is to benefit Servicemembers by giving them financial advantages in purchasing things “at cost,” or close to at cost basis.
The military Post Exchange or commissary still sells things at cost, or just above cost. The Military customer today pays a 5 percent charge that was instituted by Congress. This five percent pays for renovations, new stores, and supports Exchange operations. Civilian payroll of commissary stores is taxpayer funded, to keep the costs separate from the goods and services offered. Most commissaries and post exchanges save their customers over 30 percent, and can equal about $2,700 dollars a year for the average family of four. Commissaries and Post exchanges particularly benefit young service families that live in areas where the cost of living is high. Without the commissary and Post Exchange some families of Military Servicemembers could not make ends meet.
With the advent of the Internet, the Commissary is expanding. Now it is possible to shop for some things at home, and then pick up the product on base, or arrange for shipping. This is the ultimate in convenience, and is truly technology meeting an existing need.